Monday, August 30, 2010

First victory for Groupama 70

Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race
It was at 1126 hours BST on Sunday that Franck Cammas and his ten crew took victory in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland off the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. By covering the 1,802 miles in 5 days 21 hours and 26 minutes at an average speed of 12.74 knots, the French crew considerably improved on the best time over this course which had previously been in the hands of the British sailors Dee Cafari and Sam Davies since 2009.

"Our arrival in the Isle of Wight was pretty magical. We powered along the island at over twenty knots under spinnaker before tacking against the current in the Solent. On crossing the finish line off the Squadron, the exhaustion swept over us. That's how you build a team; it's important" says Jean-Luc Nélias, navigator aboard Groupama 70.

As the winner of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland tied up to the dock in the port of Cowes, the bottle of champagne was passed around the whole crew. Very much in demand, Franck Cammas had to do a steady stream of telephone interviews and after his first confrontation against a Volvo Ocean Race specialist, the skipper of Groupama 70 was ready and waiting: "Our aim in this race was to see how the work this new team, on a new boat, has been doing over the past six months would measure up to a reference like Telefonica. The battle was great and very close-fought. We really battled hard. The confrontation was worth its weight in gold with the crew forced to sail under pressure for the first time since Groupama's engagement in the Volvo. This victory has motivated the whole team to push themselves as hard as they can. As far as the record is concerned, it's the icing on the cake" explains a happy Franck Cammas.

By taking 14 hours and 3 minutes less time than the previous Sevenstar RBI reference, Groupama 70 has confirmed the fast pace of these Volvo Ocean Race monohulls, which are capable of peak speeds in excess of 30 knots, as well as regularly sailing faster than the strength of the wind, like the multihulls that the skipper of Groupama is so familiar with.

However, the greatest satisfaction for the recent winner of the Jules Verne Trophy is a human one: "We have a new team. None of my crew come from the multihull and the three Groupama trimarans. It was necessary for me to become integrated. For that there's nothing more valuable than a race to get to know each other well and gain trust. I've learnt more in six days of racing than in six months of training in Lorient during our day sails. This victory binds our crew for the future".

Next up the crew will quickly have to head back out to sea to return to the base in Lorient: "We'll have left before Telefonica arrives. We're not being prudish, but our work schedule is a busy one and every minute counts until the start of the Volvo in November 2011. It would be a mistake to underestimate our rivals" concludes Jean-Luc Nélias.

- Time of passage over the finish line: 1126 hours BST
- Race time: 5 days 21 hours and 26 minutes
- Average speed over the 1,802 mile course: 12.74 knots
- Lead over the previous record: 14 hours and 3 minutes

Crew of Groupama 70
1. Franck Cammas, skipper
2. Jean-Luc Nélias, navigator
3. Laurent Pagès, watch leader
4. Magnus Woxen, watch leader
5. Charles Caudrelier, trimmer
6. Erwan Israël, trimmer, under 30 years of age
7. Martin Strömberg, trimmer and pitman, under 30 years of age
8. Sébastien Marsset, trimmer and pitman, under 30 years of age
9. Mike Pammenter, bowman, under 30 years of age
10. Martin Krite, bowman, under 30 years of age
11. Yann Riou, media crew

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