Franck Cammas and Sophie de Turckheim competing at the Delta Lloyd Regatta 2014. Image copyright Yvan Zedda/Groupama
by Vincent Borde
A month on from the Sailing World Cup in Hyères, the crew of Groupama and the French Olympic Nacra 17 sailing team are today tackling the Dutch stage of the Eurosaf Champions Sailing Cup to the north of Amsterdam.
Winner of the Grand Prix Guyader on the M34, the one-design from the Tour de France à la Voile, Franck Cammas is now switching from the monohull to the catamaran to link back up with the European elite of Olympic sailing. It's the kind of `sea change' that delights the skipper of Groupama: "Our aim is to continue making progress in the medium wind and breezy conditions that generally reign in Medemblik. It's a tactically interesting and fairly flat inland race zone, which should enable us to improve our technique in the breeze".
Up against Franck and Sophie, the heads of the series are all in attendance, with the exception of the Italians, winners in Hyères, and Spaniard Iker Martinez, who is busy with other projects: "We've had a great welcome. You get the impression that the organisers have a real culture for Olympic sailing," adds the skipper of Groupama. With some fifteen series at the start, notably including the arrival of the Kitesurfers and foiling Moth sailors, the thirtieth edition of the Delta Lloyd Regatta is placing the emphasis on the quality of the organisation and the welcome to draw in the top racers.
With eight French crews on the start line, including its top players, Besson and Riou, it's safe to say that the Dutch have really pulled it off. As such, the French coach, Franck Citeau, is sure to have his work cut out.
With regards to the weather, the two training days prior to hostilities commencing have been marked by a gentle breeze and glorious sunshine: "We'd have liked to have had more wind, but that's how it is. We should have windier conditions this week though, with a good medium breeze," adds the skipper of Groupama, keen to get going.
Alongside him out on the wire, Sophie de Turckheim has made the most of the two weeks that have elapsed since the Chinese stage of the Extreme Sailing Series to ensure she is at the top of her game both physically and tactically, so as to get a good handle on the closed race zone in Medemblik.
We'll be following their progress each day through until Saturday and the final day of the Eurosaf Champions Sailing Cup.
The French participants
1/ Billy Besson - Marie Riou
2/ Franck Cammas - Sophie de Turckheim
3/ Moana Vaireaux - Manon Audinet
4/ Audrey Ogereau - Matthieu Vandame
5/ Charles Hainneville - Alizée Desbordes
6/ Ingrid Petitjean - Olivier Backes
7/ Flora Laugier - Valentin Bellet
8/ Vincent Domand - Fanny Merelle
The overseas heads of the series
Darren Bundock - Nina Curtis (AUS)
Lucy Macgregor - Andrew Walsh (GB)
Tom Phipps - Pascoe Zennor (GB)
Benjamin Saxton - Hannah Diamond (GB)
Pippa Wilson - John Gibson (GB)
Renée Groenveld - Steven Krol (NED)
Cammas - Groupama
Delta Lloyd Regatta