Three months is how long Groupama Sailing Team and its skipper Franck Cammas have left to prepare for the World C Class Catamaran Championship, which is due to take place late September in Falmouth. Created and designed by the internal design office, with the collaboration of some eminent external architects and technicians like Guillaume Verdier, Benjamin Muyl, Martin Fisher and Denis Glehen, Groupama C is in build and being assembled in Lorient.
2013 World C Class Catamaran Championship
Switching with an equal degree of pleasure from the French Nacra 17 team to the Tour de France à la Voile aboard an M34, to sail trials on Alpha and Flying Phantom offshore of Lorient, the Groupama skipper has been amassing precious experience on the water. With Louis Viat out on the wire and Gurvan Bontemps on the helm when he's otherwise engaged, Franck doesn't really have any cause to be jealous of the skippers preparing for the America's Cup in San Francisco Bay: 'We're sailing in the C Class as we need to continue to enhance our technical expertise. The research and development that we do on this craft is essentially the same as what you do in the America's Cup. We could spend as much time on a C Class as on an AC72, even though our deck layout is simpler. Aside from that, all the aerodynamics, hydrodynamics and workings of the wing are the same. As such all this work is highly beneficial for our design team'.
With regard where Groupama sailing team is at with its preparation, Franck has this to say: 'The boat should be out on the water in early August, which is later than initially planned, but given that the Tour de France à la Voile is in July, we're making the most of this time to continue our tests on Alpha and on Flying Phantom and will choose the final version of Groupama C as late in the day as possible.
The tests we're carrying out on these two boats are as follows:
- For Flying Phantom, the appendages, with a flight formula which won't be the only formula possible in the C Class, but it's certainly the most difficult to get straight,
- and on Alpha, the wing, the deck layout, the manoeuvres and the helming system itself along with a few performance measurements'.
With the support of the performance analysis team managed by Yann Riou, has Groupama sailing team had more work on the wing or on the foils?: 'We've taken more time with the flying foils and the stability, which is very difficult to get right the minute there are quite big seas, though we're really pulling some interesting things out of the bag on flat seas.
We've decided to kit Groupama C up with all the gadgets and all the technical refinements there are and that we've already used in the past, or which also exist on some of the Cup boats in certain domains.
We haven't restricted ourselves to making a simple, light catamaran, instead focusing on a boat that is technologically complex and daring.
Obviously, once we start, we'll have a lot of fine-tuning to do so there will be some wastage at that point. The hope is that during the World Championship, all these new techniques will be perfected. One thing for sure though is that the systems on Groupama C won't be anything like what's gone before'.
One of the other teams preparing for the World Championship is the Swiss Hydros team with Jérémie Lagarrigue. We imagine that you're watching their progress closely?
'Yes, it's a new team in this class. They've come into it with a fairly open mindset compared with what's been done before, like us a little, particularly in terms of the hull shape. Their boat looks pretty light, which is a considerable asset in the C Class. On top of that, they've had the time and the means to put their two boats on the water and be able to trial them. As a result, they're obviously one of the favourites for this Little America's Cup and it's a really good thing that we will be able to vie with new teams coming to the fore with a desire for research. It's all very exciting'.
Before heading for Dunkirk and the start of the Tour de France à la Voile 2013 on Thursday, the Groupama skipper is continuing to attend meetings and go sailing. Indeed, he seems keen to avoid a dip in his time on the water since the start of the year, which equates to 161 out of 180 days!