Groupama's adventure is continuing

Groupama is slowly lowered the right way up
Martin Balch
Back in France after righting Groupama 3 in the New Zealand port of Dunedin, eight of the crew of the giant trimaran were in Groupama's press centre in Paris today to answer questions from journalists and web surfers during today's press conference.

The most important news from this meeting is the confirmation by Groupama's Managerial staff that the adventure is continuing. Indeed, the damage suffered by the giant trimaran is considerable but reparable. Franck Cammas indicated that Groupama 3 was going to be loaded onto a cargo ship around 13th March with an arrival at the technical base in Lorient scheduled a month later.

The skipper also specified that the current assessment still hadn't revealed the reasons behind the breakage of the float between the forward crossbeam and the port foil casing: 'We're going to discuss all this with the architects, the yard and the structural engineers. If this amounts to a design fault, then that means we were wrong but sailing remains a mechanical sport... We have a working base, which defines the stresses that the boat should be able to withstand and in the general project strategy, we never wanted to take risks: we didn't put any less carbon in it than for Geronimo! We may have to look at our calculations again but the concept isn't at fault. The way Groupama 3 handled, its sensations at the helm, its performance and its Atlantic records confirm that the project is viable: we want to head back out again next winter with a trimaran, which will handle in the same type of way, but without any doubts in the back of our minds about the reliability of the boat...'

The giant trimaran will therefore go into the yard as soon she returns to France, but in the meantime, the shore crew is already preparing for the work in the knowledge that numerous parts of the boat can be recuperated (rudders, deck hardware, hooks...). The engineers and the designers will also look into means of consolidating the trimaran: 'It will be necessary to rebuild one entire float and reconstruct the puzzle: a launch at the start of November can be envisaged, followed by a month of fine tuning and validation for the start of stand-by in December for the Jules Verne Trophy' detailed Franck Cammas.

Jan Dekker went directly home to South Africa, whilst Loïc Le Mignon remained in Dunedin (New Zealand) to monitor the loading of the giant trimaran onto the cargo ship with two members of the shore crew from Lorient, Olivier Mainguy and Jean-Marc Normant, who came out to join him,. The eight other crew are already in the process of preparing for new competitions with the Spi Ouest France competition looming for one designs, sports catamarans...

Interview with Franck Cammas, skipper
'The weather didn't spoil us and I hope the Deep South isn't like that all the time! We had a lot of messy seas, which was painful for the boat and the men alike... We also had to extend our course to remain to the North of the lows and we were blocked for a long time by a front which wasn't making headway: in the end we had just one good day in the whole of the Indian Ocean! Even that was still behind a low, in SW'ly winds. From New Zealand we had just started to find more favourable seas and winds...'

Interview with Franck Proffit, watch leader
'The story ended very radically whilst we were still inside the round the world record time. Despite difficult weather, we got off to a great start, but the conditions weren't in our favour, especially in the Indian Ocean. The boat is exceptional. It's very quick, with a fabulous crew and the alchemy was positive for producing a great performance...'

Interview with Steve Ravussin, watch leader
'Going as fast as this for so long is something I've never done! It's a fairly stressful pace when you're down below but we never pushed the boat too far in my view. Unfortunately, the seas were often very difficult...'

Interview with Sébastien Audigane, helmsman
'Groupama 3 is a very, very, very quick boat! Of course, in big seas, Orange II was more pleasant but the trimaran's potential is remarkable and things should go well next winter...'

Interview with Frédéric Le Peutrec, helmsman
'Between Club Med and Groupama 3, which are of a similar length, the trimaran is a lot faster and has much greater potential! Orange II is at the other end of the scale and passes better through the water, but that's not enough... This type of boat requires a lot of concentration and selflessness, but we never experienced the kind of stress you can encounter sailing single-handed on a 60 foot trimaran!'

Interview with Ronan Le Goff, bowman
'We all knew at the start of the Jules Verne Trophy that it wouldn't be easy! But we'll make another attempt next year...'

Interview with Jacques Caraës, bowman
'In this type of challenge, it's the seas which let you past as Francis Joyon said on his arrival. They didn't let us past... Groupama 3 has the ability to be in phase in the transition zones, which is a huge asset in relation to Orange II. The Indian Ocean is always hard and powerful and we suffered behind a front. On Orange II though, we didn't have the sea breeze and the catamaran just slipped along... I also believe that carbon has a memory and that's why it broke.'

Interview with Yves Parlier, navigator
'Finding yourself on shore after two hours with this incomplete circumnavigation is a strange sensation: My head is still in this round the world and my mind is still thinking about the days which were set to follow, where we were set to make really good speed at the start of the Pacific Ocean...'

The crew of Groupama 3
Franck Cammas: skipper & watch leader 1
Franck Proffit: watch leader 2
Steve Ravussin: watch leader 3
Yves Parlier: navigator
Sébastien Audigane: 2nd helm
Loïc Le Mignon: 2nd helm
Frédéric Le Peutrec: 2nd helm
Jan Dekker: bowman
Ronan Le Goff: bowman
Jacques Caraës: bowman