At the Little America's Cup, Franck Cammas and Louis Viat are continuing with their training aboard their fixed wing foiling catamaran Groupama C just days before their departure from Lorient bound for Falmouth, England, to compete in the 26th edition.
Navigation au large de Lorient de Groupama C - Skipper : Franck Cammas
Being closely monitored by their shore crew and Groupama sailing team's design office, the two sailors are expecting a very hotly-contested competition against the specialists of this incredible series.
Since 1961, top-flight engineers, inshore racers and technicians have been tirelessly working to design a catamaran measuring 7.60m long and 4.2m wide and equipped with a 27m2 sail area, which will enable them to secure victory in the World C-Class Championship, which is contested every two years against the reigning champion.
Since 1974, fixed wings have replaced the less high performance soft sails. As such it's taken over thirty years for what is an obvious fact in this highly technical class to be widely accepted by the general public as a result of the Americans on Oracle, who secured a win in the 33rd America's Cup aboard a fixed wing trimaran, helmed by Jimmy Spithill.
It comes as no surprise then that the World C-Class Championship is also known as the 'Little America's Cup': 'It's a great thrill to take on this challenge as architecturally it's wide open, in contrast to the other competitions we've been participating in like the Tour de France à la Voile or the Olympic preparation, which is raced on one-designs where sailors are on an equal footing,' the Groupama skipper explains.
With an entourage made up of Groupama sailing team's design office and naval architects Guillaume Verdier, Benjamin Muyl and Martin Fisher, Franck Cammas has once again shown himself to have very ambitious objectives: 'Besides the fixed wing, which is a series' classic now, we've done a lot of work on the appendages and notably the foils, which enable us to fly. On small boats, it's hard to stay balanced when you're in the air, as you have a lot less inertia than the AC72s in the America's Cup. As such we've done a lot of testing and sea trials'
In order to develop the best possible hull shape below the waterline, the most efficient wing and foils with the best possible lift in a matter of months, Groupama sailing team has been racking up a great deal of time on the waters offshore of Lorient, with sea trials aboard the C-Class Alpha, world number two in the hands of Jimmy Spithill, as well as trialling foils aboard the Flying Phantom.
During this time, the hulls and beams for the new boat were built at the Multiplast yard using a brand new process known as TPT® (Thin Ply Technology®), which combines lightweight properties with high resistance.
Sailing aboard the finalised version of Groupama C since early September, Franck Cammas and Louis Viat won't have had a lot of time to familiarise themselves with their new steed. The question is, will it be enough to secure a new international title?: 'We'd obviously have liked to have had more time to train. Some of our rivals, particularly the Hydros team and that of Canaan, the reigning champion, have done more sailing than us. We'll wait and see what happens, but either way I'm very happy with the work our team has done. Groupama C is a fine boat and she's quick,' concludes the Groupama skipper, who has another five days of sailing in Lorient.
A genuine technological showcase of the expertise of Groupama sailing team's design office, Groupama C is about to make for Falmouth, where the first start will take place on Sunday 22 September and the last on Saturday 28...
The ten entries:
1. Patient Lady, France with Gurvan Bontemps and Gwenolé Gahinet
2. Groupama C, France with Franck Cammas and Louis Viat
3. Hydros, Suisse with Jérémie Lagarrigue and Billy Besson
4. Hydros, Suisse with Mischa Heemskerk and Tentij
5. Canaan, Canada with Fred Eaton and Magnus Clark
6. Canaan, Canada with Billy Gooderham and Christian Pavey
7. Invictus, UK with Norman Wijker and Tom Phipps
8. Team Cascais, Portugal
9. Cogito, USA with Steve Clark and Oliver Moore
10. Aethon, USA with Lars Guck and Max Kramers