Based in Anacortes on the west coast of the United States since 21st August 2008, the skipper of the Groupama Trimarans and his team are full of praise aboard the 90 foot trimaran BMW Oracle designed by the French architects VPLP. After the initial sail trials, Franck Cammas gives us his take on events.
'This trimaran is the only one of its kind. She is fairly extreme and has enormous potential. We're gradually taming her'. Designated as helmsman by Russell Coutts, the triple winner of the America's Cup, during these initial outings, the skipper of Groupama has been collaborating with the American Team as a coach and consultant for over a year.
On the water, the power emitted by this trimaran which is over one and a half times the size of Groupama 2 is impressive. As wide as it is long at 27.5 metres, equipped with a mast which culminates at 50 metres high, a 500 m2 mainsail and a 700 m2 gennaker, she is designed to sail close to the shore in mild conditions.
On deck, the twenty or so crew are kitted out with helmets. At the helm, Franck Cammas is discovering 'a very pleasant boat which slips along nicely. During our first beat the crew were very tense'.
As the hours went by though, in a very light breeze, the cosmopolitan crew familarised themselves with the monster: 'There are three French sailors aboard including Bruno Laurent who, as is the case aboard Groupama 2, is the boat captain, and also Thierry Fouchier, the headsail trimmer, who has been sailing in our team since 1998'.
'Though some of the crew are only just discovering multihull sailing during these initial trials, it's a bit different for us. My discovery is centred more on being a team and learning another way of working. It's a very enriching experience' adds the skipper of the Groupama trimarans, who continues: 'This experience is very beneficial for our team as we're going to be able to transpose part of this knowledge onto Groupama 3, which is in the process of being reconstructed at the Multiplast yard in Vannes'.
Another member of the Groupama team present in the United States for the past two months, Jean-Marc Normant has been following the end of the construction of the BMW Oracle trimaran: 'It has been manufactured to a remarkably high standard. There has been great attention to detail despite the very tight timing; the work taking just nine months.' The project is something that the head of Groupama's design office, Loïc Dorez, has had a great deal of involvement in, particularly during the design phase; thus enabling the BMW Oracle Team to save precious time.
It now remains for the discovery to continue: 'We're going about it very progressively. Everyone is highly concentrated and rigorous as they're aware of the risks linked to the power of the boat and the sail surface.'
With a surface area equivalent to that of two basketball courts, the black and white trimaran is continuing to fill the crew with wonder. All they have to do now is to get the very best out of their steed in view of the duels which may take place if the New York Court of Appeal decides the trimaran event will go ahead in 2009.
For the radio stations: A telephone interview with Franck Cammas can be downloaded from www.cammas-groupama.com
And finally, an internet video will be put online late morning on Friday at: www.cammas-groupama.com