Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 entrant Groupama Sailing Team has really been getting down to business at their base in Lorient, France.
Groupama sailing onboard their training boat for the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
All the crew of the future Groupama 4 are back on Breton soil to get back down to training.
The crew of Groupama Sailing Team has until 15 March to carry out sail trials aboard Groupama 70, an earlier generation boat which won’t be racing in the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. Damian Foxall is in charge of the sports element: 'We have less than 20 days to get in some training on Groupama 70. Over the past month, we’ve had to be opportunistic and snap up every opportunity to go sailing and get best use of the weather conditions which present themselves.'
Franck Cammas has some well-defined objectives for the last sail trials on a Volvo 70 prior to the launch of Groupama 4, which is scheduled for early May:
'We’re going to make the most of the remaining days to continue to test the sails, the boat’s performance and the trimming configurations. This will also be an opportunity to train up the crew offshore in some tougher conditions.'
There are a number of depressions during this season, bringing regular rainy spells and steady winds of over 35 knots to Brittany and its sailors. These are an opportunity for Franck to push the men and their boat to their limits.
Upcoming sports schedule: a mixture of match racing and M34
However, the training isn’t limited to sailing aboard Groupama 70, a 70 foot monohull. To work on the crew’s tactics and cohesion, the chosen sailors are also training on some smaller craft. In this way, La Rochelle and Quiberon have been able to play host to Franck Cammas and three of his crew during some Match Racing events scheduled over recent weekends. Winning every one of his matches, the skipper of the Groupama boats has qualified for the Atlantic basin final in mid-March.
Added to that, from 21 to 25 April, it’s aboard an M34 that Franck Cammas and Groupama Sailing Team will compete in the legendary Spi Ouest France in La Trinité-sur-Mer, SW Brittany, still supported by Groupama, partner to the skipper from Aix-en-Provence for the fourteenth year running.
However, not all the crew will attend these training sessions: 'As we have several objectives to reach at the same time, explains the skipper of the future Groupama 4, some will sail while others work on the construction of the new boat.'
Groupama 4: a closely followed construction
In build at the Multiplast yard in Vannes, the new boat, owned by Groupama and designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian, is entering the final phase of construction.
'It’s the final sprint. As such we’ve chosen to return to Lorient to train so the sailing team can come together with the boat building team and the research department. The sailors also have to lend a hand in the assembly of the on board systems so as to be capable, after having built Groupama 4, to repair them if the need arises.' Pierre Tissier, head of construction of the monohull, and around thirty other people, are currently working on the hull and deck structure at the yard in nearby Vannes.
At Lorima in Lorient, the workforce are busying themselves with the drape forming of the mast on Groupama 4, with her launch scheduled for early May.
Suffice to say that, despite the fairly harsh wintry conditions, the men of Groupama Sailing Team haven’t been wasting their time in their bid to take the start of the eleventh edition of the Volvo Ocean Race in the best possible conditions.
Groupama Sailing team