Volvo Ocean Race - Groupama crew on form in Miami's In-Port race

Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France take down their spinnaker, during the Port Miami In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.
In the Volvo Ocean Race, Franck Cammas and his men sailed amazingly well in Miami's In-Port race and though victory went to the Emirati boat, they relegated their most dangerous adversaries astern of them and closed in considerably on the Spanish leader, who finished last in this action-packed race!

This seventh In-Port of the Volvo Ocean Race was certainly the most exciting and the most incredible since the start of the event in Alicante. Protests, full-on crossed tacks, switches of leader, wind shifts and light patches, constantly shook up the hierarchy in this race, which was run beneath stormy skies.

Indeed the breeze of around a dozen knots at kick-off time wasn't very stable in terms of strength and the crews were really put under pressure to adapt to the light spells and the very messy chop in particular.

Ian Walker and his Emirati crew really got an excellent start, as the fleet quickly split off into two groups, Franck Cammas and Chris Nicholson following Abu Dhabi on the right-hand side of the very lively race zone. However, after a long beat, the Spanish were also in good shape as they managed to take the inside lane at the first mark, with Groupama 4 positioned in third place just a few boat lengths shy of them, whilst the Americans were already off the pace.

As such the first section off the wind under spinnaker was very important and Franck Cammas was the first to roll into a gybe. By positioning the boat to windward of Abu Dhabi, he also got past Telefonica by linking onto the inside track at the next mark...

On the following leg, with sheets eased, Groupama 4 extended away a little whilst Abu Dhabi was overtaken by the Spanish. By that stage there was significant separation between the three leaders and their pursuers, with the chase led by the Chinese boat. Indeed Camper and Puma appeared to be in a very poor position as a rain squall began to suck up the wind. As a result, there was a general bunching of the chasing pack behind the French and Emirati boats, to the extent that as Telefonica stalled on rounding the mark, she was dispatched by the Americans and the New Zealanders...

Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France approaching a rounding mark, during the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

Groupama 4 looked set to secure a top spot but the wind again claimed some victims as it died away: the crew of Abu Dhabi was the quickest to hoist their Code 0 for a final, fairly screwy beat. Despite a spectator boat in his path, Ian Walker managed to claw back a few dozen metres and during the final change of tack, got the edge over Franck Cammas. The breeze had become so fickle by then that Camper and Puma were no longer that far off, whilst Telefonica was bringing up the rear offshore...

Abu Dhabi maintained her position and crossed the finish line in first place, just ahead of Groupama 4. However, the real spectacle was over third place: having just tacked, the New Zealanders couldn't power up again straightaway and the Americans snapped up the opportunity and hurtled to leeward of them and ultimately crossed the finish line half a boat length ahead of the Kiwis!

Meantime the Spanish were struggling and finished in last place behind Sanya. This was a particularly positive result for the French team as Groupama 4 made up four points on the leaders in the overall standing and are now just seven points shy of the top of the leaderboard. Behind them, just one little point separates the New Zealanders and the Americans... the seventh leg between Miami and Lisbon, the start of which will take place at 1700 UTC on Sunday, promises to be extremely important for these four teams, who will be intent on ultimate victory in this eleventh round the world race, starting with this upcoming transatlantic race which will lead the crews back to Europe!

Finishers in the Miami In-Port race:

1- Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker)
2- Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas)
3- Puma (Ken Read)
4- Camper (Chris Nicholson)
5- Sanya (Mike Sanderson)
6- Telefonica (Iker Martinez)

(Provisional) overall standing after the Miami In-Port race:

1-Telefonica (Iker Martinez) : 1+30+6+29+2+27+6+20+1+25+2+15+1 = 165 points
2-Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas) : 2+20+2+18+5+24+2+30+4+20+6+20+5 = 158 points
3-Camper (Chris Nicholson) : 4+25+5+24+4+18+3+15+6+15+5+25+3 = 152 points
4-Puma (Ken Read) : 5+0+4+19+3+17+5+25+5+30+4+30+4 = 151 points
5-Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker) : 6+0+3+10+6+14+4+10+2+0+3+10+6 = 74 points
6-Sanya (Mike Sanderson) : 3+0+1+5+2+5+1+5+3+0+0+0+2 = 27 points

Volvo Ocean Race website