Extreme Sailing Series 2014 - The first leg of the Extreme Sailing Series in Singapore has been action-packed for the French crew of Groupama skippered by Franck Cammas, which has concluded today with a fine fifth place overall.
Dominating proceedings from beginning to end, the Swiss crew on Alinghi shut the door on its eleven rivals. The second of the eight events scheduled for 2014 will be held in a month's time in Oman.
After the past four days of racing and twenty-nine races run, the overall ranking reflects the calibre of the crews and it is not taking anything away from Dean Barker, Franck Cammas, Ben Ainslie or Seve Jarvin to observe that the Swiss team on Alinghi surpassed them.
The author of some fine starts and displaying great technical ability in traversing the windless zones and often choosing the right lanes on the cramped race zone surrounded by an array of majestic buildings, skipper Morgan Larson was supreme.
Behind him, The Wave Muscat, winner of the 2013 circuit, paid dearly for a rather laboured introduction since it was placed ninth with a 19-point deficit in relation to the future winner at the end of the first day.
Astern of these two leaders, Realstone, Emirates Team New Zealand, Groupama, RedBull, and JP Morgan were constantly jockeying for position with the final double-point scoring race enabling Franck Cammas' crew to move ahead of the Austrians in the overall ranking.
Lessons now need to be learned from these four days of racing so that the crew can up their performance at the next event in Oman.
Double Olympic medallist and coach for Groupama sailing team, Thierry Péponnet, has his own angle: 'We need to make progress with the starts, be more mobile by positioning ourselves further from the start line so we can power across it'.
Easy to do? 'We certainly need to get off to better starts. We lost a lot of points through early starts and standing starts. However, I think we've made progress with each passing day by being a lot more consistent in this area. On the last day, for example, in terms of the number of points bagged, we came second behind Muscat. It's very encouraging,' Franck Cammas concludes.
Injured during the collision with Aberdeen and hence just observing from back on shore on the last day, Tanguy Cariou tackles another point: 'Technically, we haven't yet got to the level of Alinghi. They've been sailing together for several seasons. They know their boat inside out and that helps a great deal on this type of race zone where the wind is very shifty. However, I believe that we haven't come off too badly for a first event. We're just behind Barker and ahead of Ainslie so we're in very good company...'
Indeed, when you look at the overall level of the fleet, Groupama certainly has nothing to be ashamed about with this fifth place, even if we're more used to seeing Cammas on the top step of the podium: 'The Swiss victory is indisputable and The Wave Muscat is also very strong. However, they're not that far ahead. Added to that, I'm not sure they've got such a good shore crew as ours, which spent last night effecting repairs to Groupama. They did a superb job of switching the mast, the trampoline and repairing the sails. Thanks to them, we were able to race with a fast boat, which is quite something when you remember the state Groupama was in on Saturday evening'.
The next meeting and `revenge match' is due to take place in under a month's time in Muscat, in the Sultanate of Oman. The race zone for this second leg of the circuit will be more open, less cramped and the wind is sure to be less shifty than that in Singapore, which Dean Barker refers to as 'One of the toughest I know'.
Franck Cammas concludes with his thoughts on the matter: 'This fifth place is satisfactory, but we're not going to be content with that!'
Overall ranking after 29 races run
1. Alinghi (Morgan Larson) with 217 points
2. The Wave Muscat, (Leigh Macmillan) 24 points behind the leader
3. Realstone, (Jérôme Clerc) 39 points behind the leader
4. Emirates Team NZ, (Dean Barker) 49 points behind the leader
5. Groupama, (Franck Cammas) 57 points behind the leader
6. Red Bull, (Roman Hagara) 61 points behind the leader
7. JP Morgan, (Ben Ainslie) 65 points behind the leader
8. Team Russia, (Igor Lisovenko) 89 points behind the leader
9. Oman Air, (Robert Greenhalgh) 89 points behind the leader
10. SAP (Jes Gram-Hansen), 91 points behind the leader
11. Team Aberdeen Singapore, (Nick Moloney) 135 points behind the leader
12. GAC Pindar, (Seve Jarvin) 158 points behind the leader.