Amid steely grey skies and howling winds on Monday, Franck Cammas and Louis Viat on Groupama C dominated the fleet on the first full day of racing for the 2013 International C-Class Catamaran Championship. More than half the fleet suffered damage of some kind, though most will return Tuesday stronger than before.
Groupama C - 2013 C-Class Catamaran Championships
'It is not easy to start a regatta like this in so much wind, but we certainly enjoyed the day out there.' said Cammas, who sailed to an easy three victories in three races while more than half the fleet returned to shore to tend their wounds and fight another day. As those boats struggled with wing and hull damage and their shore crews tended to their problems, Cammas and Viat made the 18-22 knot winds and lumpy, spectator-boat filled course look simple. 'We luckily have some really good upwind speed on Groupama C in those conditions, so it makes the racing a bit easier when you can start with some advantage,' Cammas explained.
Only one boat would challenge Cammas on Monday; Jeremie Lagarrigue and Billy Besson aboard Hydros I showed moments of blinding speed as they flew a meter above the water’s surface to speeds of over 32 knots, nearly catching Cammas during race 2. 'The boat was absolutely wild at those speeds, and we were definitely out of control at times!' said Besson. The Swiss team struggled with their upwind speed, but downwind, they came alive.
'When designing these boats there are some important compromises to decide on,' explained Lagarrigue, the team principal for the two-boat Hydros program. 'We chose a foiling system that would allow us a higher top speed at the expense of some control – we need to continue to work on our competitiveness against Groupama clearly, but we’re very happy with our downwind speed.'
While Besson was able to keep the boat upright and sail to a strong second place on the day, team members Mischa Heemskerk and Bastian Tentij weren’t so lucky aboard Hydros II. 'I lost control of the rudder – perhaps due to ventilation — and the boat rounded down into a gybe,' explained Heemskerk. 'I couldn’t recover before capsizing thanks to a broken tiller extension.' The boat was largely unscathed until the team began to flip it over, when the wing suffered extensive rib damage. Lagarrigue said his shore team will work all night to replace many of the carbon-fiber ribs forming the skeleton of the wing, and he hopes to see Heemskerk on the course Tuesday morning for up to five more races in lighter air.
Results after three races:
1 – Cammas/Viat, Groupama C, 3 points
2 – Besson/Lagarrigue, Hydros I, 6 points
3 – Eaton/Clarke, Fill Your Hands, 10 points
4 – Downey/Larson/Aviles, Sentient Blue, 14 points
5 – Bontemps/Gahinet, Patient Lady VI, 15 points
Full results here
In a Class known as the ultimate test bed for the latest, leading-edge sailing technology, here’s the damage report from Day One:
Team Cascais (Portugal): Forward beam. Unlikely to return.
Canaan (Canada): Boom box, lower wing structure. Will be on course Tuesday
Hydros II (Switzerland): Second element wing structure. Likely on course Tuesday
Invictus (UK, host team): Forward beam. Likely on course Tuesday
Cogito (USA): Second element wing structure. Likely on course Tuesday
Aethon (USA): Second element wing structure. Unlikely on course Tuesday*
*Team USA explains they may only have enough time/materials to field one boat.
The Flying Boats