Please select your home edition
Edition
T Clewring - Generic

Volvo Ocean Race - Confident onboard Groupama 4

by Franck Cammas on 11 Jun 2012
Groupama Sailing Team during leg 8 - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team © /Volvo Ocean Race http://www.cammas-groupama.com/
Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 eighth leg, a 1,940-mile race between Lisbon and Lorient, France got underway on Sunday 10th June. For this penultimate offshore race the six VO-70s will initially have to traverse the high pressure, since the course will take the fleet around the island of Sao Miguel. This passage through the Azores will be the nerve centre of this leg, as the sprint across the Bay of Biscay promises to be very quick, thanks to a depression which is making for Brittany. The finish is scheduled for Friday night or Saturday.

Conditions were very shifty for the start off Belém Tower this Sunday at noon UTC, with a north-westerly breeze of around a dozen knots. Franck Cammas set off in the middle of the start line on starboard tack and tried to force the Spanish into an error, but the on-the-water umpires believed there wasn't a penalty… Puma and Camper made the most of this confusion to make good their escape along the shores of Lisbon, with gusts of over fifteen knots occasionally accelerating the pace as the fleet headed upriver on the Tagus to make for the windward mark.

Groupama 4 tried to get free of the wind shadow of the leaders by sailing in the middle of the Tagus, whilst the crew on Abu Dhabi had some major issues with hoisting their gennaker. When it came to passing beneath the impressive bridge, which straddles the river, Puma and Camper were benefiting from a fine gust, which quickly propelled them towards the first mark, whilst behind them the fleet floundered in an extended zone of calms. There was considerable separation between the boats at that point and Telefonica managed to slip under the French and Chinese boats, whilst the Emirati boat really put a spurt on in the middle of the Tagus, where the wind was more stable…

As a result the mark rounding was rather laborious for Groupama 4, which was bringing up the rear and was nearly eight minutes astern of the American leader, who were being closely tailed by the New Zealanders. The fleet then headed downriver and out to the open ocean, passing Belém Tower a second time and then slipping past Cascais as they made it out into the Atlantic, where the north-westerly breeze quickly picked up to around twenty knots. Franck Cammas and his men were then able to make the most of these lively conditions to begin to make up their deficit.

On what was already a pretty rough sea, the crews ensured they had all their sails aloft to accelerate in these Portuguese tradewinds, which should stay with them until Monday evening, before gradually easing the closer the fleet gets to the Azores High. It's on Tuesday that things will really start to get tough as all the boats approach the centre of the high pressure, which is settling into position directly across their route to Sao Miguel… Fortunately, once the fleet round the Azorean island (780 miles from Lisbon), the westerly wind will fill in to around twenty knots before increasing to thirty and more under the influence of a depression which is slowly shifting towards the Bay of Biscay.

It's thanks to this disturbance that this course is forecast to be short, since the system will reach Brittany on Thursday and it's probably on Friday that the frontrunners will come into view off the island of Groix. However, the end of the course is likely to be a little more complicated as the breeze will ease progressively as it backs round to the South. These conditions are favourable for Groupama 4, which is particularly fond of reaching conditions in a steady breeze, but essentially it's the passage beneath the Atlantic archipelago, which could influence the hierarchy. And even though Franck Cammas and his men were a little over two miles behind the leaders on exiting the Tagus, there is still a long way to go before they get back home…

Quotes from the boat prior to the start in Lisbon
Franck Cammas, skipper: 'We're going to try to finish in Lorient not too badly placed. Since Miami it's been important not to miss a spot on the podium as an average or mediocre result would be crippling. You mustn't take too many risks either and you have to take care of the boat: there's going to be some strong winds over the last few days. We have to make sure we sail our own race, as we'd have too much to lose by controlling a rival: we'll use our own strategy and the closer we are to first place, the more favourable it'll be for the overall standing. We're in a positive phase, but the top three boats have very similar speeds offshore.'

Jean-Luc Nélias, navigator: 'The important thing is to come out of our obligatory passage through the Azores High without leaving too many feathers behind us. There may be no breeze, wind shadows from the landforms and the effects of the coast to contend with… We have to have nerves of steel: it's one of the last big heaves we have to give. After Sao Miguel, we'll enter a depression with strong winds and there's a chance we could break gear. Light airs and a storm aren't the perfect combination for a leader as things could go either way! We might make the finish on Friday evening… though other models suggest Saturday evening.'

Laurent Pagès, tactician: 'It would be a mistake to focus on the overall standing: we need to tackle this leg as if we were tied on points. It's a restart. In principle, the conditions suit us and we're fairly confident, even though we're going to get shaken about in the Bay of Biscay. It's already a big satisfaction to be the leader at the start in Lisbon and that gives us a slight edge. We've evolved a great deal in terms of making strategic decisions since the start in Alicante: it's a long race where consistency is key. On a personal level, I reckon our most serious rival is Puma: the Americans are in a dynamic phase at the moment with a vast amount of experience, whilst the Spanish seem to be having some difficulties.'

Standings on 10 June 2012 at 1600 UTC:
1 – Puma 1,890.4 miles from the finish
2 – Abu Dhabi 0.2 miles astern of the leader
3 – Camper 0.4 miles astern of the leader
4 – Telefonica 0.8 miles astern of the leader
5 – Groupama 2.5 miles astern of the leader
6 – Sanya 3.5 miles astern of the leader


Groupama Sailing Team website

Related Articles

Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted today at 12:16 pm
From Olympic flag to Olympic Gold and maybe another
The Sydney Olympics was a Sailing double 470 Gold event for Australia. Having won the 420 World Championship in 2000, the feeder class to the 470, while still at school in Australia young Matt Belcher was given the honour of carrying the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Posted on 28 Apr
The Road to Rio now 99 days short
The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win. The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win in Hyeres, at some World championship events and Weymouth World Cup but for many crews: 'It's 106 miles to Chicago we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.' Whoops wrong movie.
Posted on 28 Apr
America's Cup - Oracle Racing win in Court but with collateral damage
Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Mitchell focussed largely on the circumstances of the matter and introduced into the public arena some interesting documents to support his claims.
Posted on 23 Apr
An interview with Jake Beattie about the 2016 Race to Alaska
In 2014, Jake Beattie and a few friends envisioned the Race to Alaska. Now, it’s time this wild race’s second edition. In 2014, Jake Beattie-the executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Washington, and a few friends hatched the bold idea of a human-powered race to Ketchikan, Alaska, took flight. They decided that their human-powered race would start in Port Townsend, Washington and run to Ketchikan, by way of the inside passage between Vancouver Island and British Columbia.
Posted on 14 Apr
Children of the Internet, Rio and Hong Kong
I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. The kind of conversations I have with her run along these lines.... In the olden days we did not have television until I left school and they had a thing called print magazines, that reported events between two weeks and four months after they happened. And her sceptical response... Hoh! Daddy, Hoh!
Posted on 14 Apr
Go fast girls - 49er FX sailors Paris Henken and Helena Scutt
Paris Henken and Helena Scutt will be representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics, which will be their first Olympiad. American’s Paris Henken (20) and Helena Scutt (23) recently won a berth to represent the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the high-performance 49er FX skiff, a goal that the team has been working on for almost three years. While this is their first Games, writing them off as Olympic newbies would require ignoring their recent results and their strong teamwork.
Posted on 13 Apr
World Sailing Cup V3 - A Dead Rat in a Shoe or Spring Daffodils?
While a host of major sailing events go from strength to strength, the Sailing World Cup has very major issues. Last night my Irish better half was sitting beside me on the sofa watching an Australian version of the popular TV Cooking Program My Kitchen Rules on a tablet with her headphones while I was watching Diehard II for the seventeenth time (it’s a boy thing) on TV. She suddenly spluttered and laughed, took off her headphones and motioned for me to mute Diehard. (Seriously!!)
Posted on 9 Apr
Volvo Ocean Race appoints stadium racing pioneer as new CEO
Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Today his appointment has been confirmed.
Posted on 31 Mar
Large spectator fleet heading north for boat watching season
I’m absolutely not going to lay claim to the phrase, but it is insanely apt and hilarious all at the same time, however. I’m absolutely not going to lay claim to the phrase. It is insanely apt and hilarious, all at the same time, however. Well then, boat watching season is definitely upon us once more. The whales will soon be gathering again off the coast of Queensland to observe all manner of racing and cruising craft as they head North for a Winter in the sun.
Posted on 29 Mar
T Clewring - GenericNorth Technology - Southern SparsNaiad