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Rolex Fastnet Race - Groupama 4 prepares to confront rivals

by Welcome on Board on 9 Aug 2011
Groupama 4 - Rolex Fastnet Race Yvan Zedda © http://www.zedda.com.
Rolex Fastnet Race is due to set off on Sunday 14th August from Cowes, Isle of wight. Around 350 boats will compete in the race.

Groupama 4, Franck Cammas and his men will leave Lorient, France bound for the UK, where they'll take the start of the 44th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race. It will be the first opportunity for the French team to do battle with two of the six other Volvo Open 70 entries in the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. The enthusiasm is mounting, as is the desire to get going…

Among the numerous rules to which the Volvo Open 70s are subjected, there is one which forbids carrying out speed trials with other boats. In this way, for the past year and a half, Franck Cammas and his crew have had to make do with racing against the clock. However, after 150 days of training, the time for the first confrontation is upon them! On 14 August 2011, Groupama sailing team will be in Cowes on the start line for the legendary Rolex Fastnet Race.

Among the 300 boats registered, Groupama 4 will be among two other Volvo Open 70s: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team and Team Sanya.

The skipper of Groupama 4 is very curious to see how the boat and her crew perform when racing. Franck Cammas: 'Our main aim is to do battle with the other two boats registered in the Volvo Ocean Race. The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team project got going late in the day but they have what it takes to succeed. The skipper, Ian Walker, is very experienced and his crew comprises some real professionals. Team Sanya only recently declared its entry but we'd best keep an eye on them: the crew led by Mike Sanderson is one of the most qualified. Their boat (the former Telefonica Blue) is renowned for being very fast in light airs'.

For Groupama sailing team, it's a step into the unknown but everyone's keen to test Groupama 4's abilities against her rivals. The media man Yann Riou: 'We've been sailing on our own for a long time. We've learnt a great deal but I think we're going to learn even more through this confrontation'.

Dress rehearsal prior to the première
'It's always important to get yourself into race configuration' says Franck Cammas, 'especially if we're to get a better understanding of our strong and our weak points. It'll be the first test for us and it will enable us to weigh up the general performance by Groupama 4 and the crew'. And even though the result of this course won't be a determining factor in relation to the circumnavigation of the globe that Groupama sailing team will commence on 5 November 2011, all the members of the team are sharpening their tools!

In this way, Ben Wright, in charge of the shore team, is preparing as he would if were setting off around the world, even though there will be a reduced crew of six people who will make the journey to Cowes. 'We've organised ourselves as we would for a short leg of the Volvo Ocean Race: we've put the finishing touches to Groupama 4, we're rationing the food, we're taking the sleeping bags… It's very important for us to be able to train in race conditions'. Let's meet in Cowes next Sunday at 1110 GMT for Groupama 4's opening gambit in the Rolex Fastnet.


Groupama Rolex Fastnet website

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