Thursday, May 6, 2010

Groupama unveils its strategy for the Volvo Ocean Race

This Thursday in Eric Tabarly's Cité de la Voile and then its base in Lorient, vessel owner Groupama and its team, revealed the reasons behind their commitment to the next two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race, the crewed round the world race with stopovers. It proved to be an excellent opportunity for the European insurance and banking group to display its international ambition and for Franck Cammas and his team to vie with the top Anglo-Saxon crews.

"When we committed ourselves to supporting Franck Cammas back in 1998, he was a young sports entrepreneur, who was just discovering the multihull scene. Twelve years on, he has won virtually all the crewed races and racked up no less than six records, including the legendary Jules Verne Trophy on 20th March 2010. By confirming our commitment to the next two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race, namely until 2015, we are supporting the Group's international development, which makes 30% of its turnover overseas and employs over 11,000 employees outside France. Groupama is today identified as the leading vessel owner in French sailing. With the Volvo Ocean Race, this presence will further develop overseas" analyses Frédérique Granado, Groupama's director of external communications.
To achieve this, Groupama can count on the complete involvement of its team led by Franck Cammas. Today this team is made up of 45 people and within the workforce it is fairly commonplace to hear English spoken or perhaps French with a slightly exotic accent: "The challenge we've committed ourselves to is a sizeable one. Since 1993 and Eric Tabarly, not a single French team has participated in the Volvo Ocean Race. Up against the top crews from New Zealand, America, Spain and Ireland, it's going to be an intense battle. We're just rediscovering the monohull and we still have a lot to learn. However, we're going about it with as much enthusiasm, seriousness and humility as possible. Thanks to Groupama's commitment, we were the first to put our team together. Making up my entourage are Volvo specialists like Damian Foxall, Ben Wright, Luc Gellusseau, Hervé Le Quilliec as well as Killian Bush, who are joining together with various long-term stalwarts of the Groupama Team like Stéphane Guilbaud, Pierre Tissier, Loïc Dorez, Yann Riou and Olivier Mainguy" explains Franck Cammas.

With the purchase of Ericsson 4, winner of the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, Groupama Team can boast an excellent platform for training and analysis. Rechristened Groupama 70, the Koujoumdjian design is performing an increasing number of sail trials offshore of Lorient in Brittany, where the Team is based.

When the team aren't out sailing, the various members of the Team are participating in the design of the future boat, it too due to be designed by the Franco-Argentine architect: "Unfortunately we didn't have the time to involve the excellent French architects in the work, as they are also only just discovering the restrictions of the class measurement linked to these 70 foot (21.5 metres long) boats. As such we opted for Juan Koujoumdjian, who is based in Valencia, Spain. However, it's actually in nearby Vannes, at the Multiplast yard, that Groupama 4 will be built. This will represent 40,000 man hours and we know the team well because we built the maxi trimaran Groupama 3 with them" adds Franck.

With work having started in the last few days, the construction will take 10 months till her scheduled launch on 15th March 2011. In the meantime, the Groupama skipper will have also taken part in the Route du Rhum La Banque Postale aboard a Groupama 3 adapted to solo sailing, as well as the Extreme Sailing Series Europe aboard the one design catamaran Groupama 40.

Suffice to say that the schedule for the Groupama skipper is a busy one. However, supported by a committed, long-lasting ship owner and an experienced Team, Franck Cammas has what it takes to succeed in his ambitions. - Find all the latest about the Groupama trimarans on: