Just two months after its creation was revealed at the Nautic Paris Boat Show, and thanks to Groupama, Team France is competing in its first international competition at the Extreme Sailing Series, which starts in Singapore this Thursday. Up against some of the world’s top racers like Dean Barker (NZ) and Sir Ben Ainslie (GB), Franck Cammas and his crew will be defending France’s colours with their trademark determination.
At the same time, Team France is also unveiling itself on the web with a dedicated website, a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and a channel on Dailymotion to enable this fantastic sports project and the whole of the network to be closely monitored. Together for excellence, starting now!
The setting is sumptuous. Surprising even, since it’s amidst the buildings that make up the capital’s Business Centre that the twelve 40-foot (12 metres) catamarans competing in the eighth edition of this international championship will do battle.
Created by Briton Mark Turner, the ESS stands out through its short 10-minute long courses within the direct vicinity of the public. Suffice to say that at this pace, the slightest error costs dearly: 'If you stuff up your start, you’ve had it. It’s the same if you make the slightest manoeuvring error and given that there are a lot of them, you constantly have to anticipate your moves', explains Tanguy Cariou, mainsail trimmer and project manager for Groupama sailing team.
Alongside him, Thierry Fouchier adds: 'In contrast to the races we usually compete in, here we’re never on a straight line course for more than 30 seconds. As such you need to be really good in the transitions so you immediately reach the target speed. You don’t have the time to hunt for it because you’re already having to prepare for the next manœuvre. The helmsman is the only one who has the time to watch what’s going on around him. For us crew, often we don’t even know where we are in the race anymore, whether we still have another lap to do or if it’s the finish.' Coming from the mouth of one of just two Frenchmen to have won the America’s Cup (BMW Oracle in 2010), it’s an edifying explanation.
It now remains to be seen how the crew of Team France will perform in its return to the series, which the majority of its rivals has never left: 'Clearly we’re not the favourites. I’d even go so far as to say that we may struggle at times against the specialists, who are often Olympic medallists, not to mention the three sailors who have recently won the America’s Cup (Barker, Ainslie, Bertarelli). However, we have a good team, that is capable of making progress,' Franck Cammas comments.
Practice day has confirmed the fleet’s high level as well as its uniformity. The Wave Muscat, JP Morgan, Team New Zealand, Groupama and Alinghi took it in turns to shine in a breeze of four to 10 knots. The victims of slight damage, the Australian and French teams weren’t able to compete in all the races.
However, whatever happens, determination combined with a certain calmness was etched on the faces of Barker and Ainslie. Acknowledged champions, they’re quite looking forward to the start of hostilities to show protagonists like Jarvin and Cammas that the Cup has to be earned. And it’s the kind of confrontation that the skipper of Team France isn’t the type to shun. Far from it in fact, as he is convinced that, beyond the result, he will again learn more valuable lessons…
The first results will be in tonight with the weather forecast indicating an easterly wind of around ten knots, a temperature of 30° and quite a high ambient humidity…
The first sporting competition for a Team France skipper is a great opportunity to put in place the tools to enable you to follow the project and get all the latest news. Team France Website