For the second time in 2014, the crewed multihull specialists will be doing battle aboard Extreme 40s in the Extreme Sailing Series. Fifth in the first event contested in Singapore some four weeks ago, Franck Cammas and the crew of Groupama have been putting in some practice time on Muscat's race zone in the Sultanate of Oman.
Groupama helmed by Franck Cammas in action during the Extreme Sailing Series in Singapore.
'You should keep going back to your work and improving it' so they say. Whether they've been plundering the circuit's prize haul for years like Larson or MacMillan or they're newcomers like Ben Ainslie or Dean Barker, the competing skippers aren't the sort to rest on their laurels, Olympic or otherwise.
On the eve of the first day of racing, in a light wind of five to 10 knots blowing inshore, the crews have been warming up in more ways than one.
with Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan and Sophie de Turckheim, Franck Cammas is no exception: 'It was interesting and also very different to the sailing conditions we encountered in Singapore. The race zone is open and the wind is very shifty. Getting off to some good starts will be all the more important for the ranking. It'll also be more difficult as the race committee will alternate between starts where we're on a reach or starts sailing close-hauled'.
French sailor and skipper of Groupama 4 Franck Cammas - Haute Route 2012
Returning from a week's sailing on the Nacra 17 in Palma de Mallorca with his crewmate Sophie, the Groupama skipper has put any bad memories from Singapore behind him: 'The collision we suffered is all but forgotten and most importantly, Tanguy Cariou is fighting fit again. The boat is in tip-top condition too. The shore crew has done a fantastic job'.
Alongside Franck, the tactician will be keeping his helmet on to protect his scars from the sun, his focus again on the numerous solid tacks to be performed over the course of the day: 'The race zone is pretty technical with a fair bit of chop. There are some fairly clear-cut wind shifts too and you can't always see them coming.'
In brilliant form in Singapore, the Swiss on Alinghi don't appear to have lost the thread over the past four weeks' interruption. Quite the contrary in fact. The New Zealanders and the British are still increasingly in the game too one might say!
Finally, the last element to take into account in terms of the difficultly of the task that lies ahead of the French crew: the advantage that The Wave Muscat and Oman Air may have in sailing on `home waters'.
Needless to say the battle is set to be of the highest level in what promises to be a light breeze. Both muscle power and brain power will be called for here, which is an area where Franck Cammas has excelled before.
The crew of Groupama Sailing Team
Tanguy Cariou, mainsail trimmer and tactician
Thierry Fouchier, headsail trimmer
Devan Le Bihan, bowman
Sophie de Turckheim, floating crew and observation of the race zone
Wednesday from 1430 to 1730 hrs (time difference: +4 hours in Muscat / UK)
Thursday from 1430 to 1730 hrs
Friday from 1430 to 1730 hrs
Saturday from 1430 to 1730 hrs