Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race – Victory for Groupama in Lisbon

Groupama sailing team - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 Oeiras In-Port Race, contested today in Lisbon, provided another victory for Groupama 4. Having won the leg from China to New Zealand, then the Itajai In-Port race, Franck Cammas and his men have further bolstered their lead prior to the eighth leg, which kicks off on Sunday at 1200 UTC, bound for their port of registry in Lorient. In this way, the French boat has extended its lead against the Spanish, who were last on the Tagus River this Saturday afternoon, and against the New Zealanders, who again lost to the Americans in a sprint to the wire.

Nice timing for a victory! Moving up to the top of the overall leaderboard on their arrival in Lisbon after a lively Atlantic crossing, Groupama 4 is settling in nicely to this top spot with an eight point lead over Telefonica, thirteen ahead of Puma and twenty-three ahead of Camper… However, it's not just the pleasure of confirming their supremacy which is upper most in the minds of Franck Cammas and his men, above all it's the way in which the crew negotiated this In-Port race, which has spurred them on prior to what will be the most important offshore leg for the French team. Indeed, tomorrow at 1200 UTC, the fleet will set off on the 1,940-mile leg between Lisbon and Lorient via the Azores. The ETA for the finish and the Breton welcome is scheduled for next Friday evening or Saturday, alongside Groupama sailing team's technical base!

It was opposite the Belém Tower, a symbol of Lisbon's discovery of the world by its ocean-going pioneers, that the start of the In-Port race was given this Saturday at noon UTC, in a westerly breeze of around fifteen knots. From the outset the race took on a rather special slant when the Spanish got slammed with a penalty turn for a start line rule infringement on the Americans. Franck Cammas and his men, who got off to a careful start to leeward of their two rivals, didn't just benefit from this little hitch, but above all performed a superb spinnaker hoist. In a matter of seconds, Groupama 4 had broken away from the others in clean wind as she made her climb up the Tagus. However, the succession of gybes which had to be performed to pass beneath Lisbon's bridge, resulted in momentary uncertainty, when the French boat was nudged by the American boat, enabling the New Zealanders to cross ahead of them on one tack.

Groupama sailing team - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12

A laborious manœuvre by the Kiwis as they approached the first mark enabled Groupama 4 to be first to make the rounding, followed by Camper, Abu Dhabi and Puma, whilst Telefonica was bringing up the rear after having to perform a 360° penalty turn. The ensuing beat was an opportunity for a number of tacks to best negotiate the current from the rising tide and the shifts in the wind, which were disturbed by the shores of the Tagus. Franck Cammas and his crew managed to extend their lead, whilst heavily controlling the New Zealanders, who saw the Emiratis and the Americans closing on them.

After 51 minutes of racing, Groupama 4 confirmed her domination by rounding the second mark with a one-minute lead over Puma and Camper, at which point the Race Committee opted to reduce the course to two laps. A short run under spinnaker put the Americans back in the fight, as the Spanish watched helpless as their sail fell into the water and the Chinese had to cut away their trapped halyard and abandon their spinnaker altogether in the river…

Franck Cammas and his men racked up a flawless performance, both in terms of tactics and manœuvres, and after 61 minutes of racing, they were first to cross the finish line ahead of Puma and Camper. The upshot of today's racing was a third victory for Groupama 4 since the start of the event in Alicante; a victory which certainly puts them very much in contention for a prime spot in the final standing in Ireland on 7 July. Indeed there are now just two offshore races to go (Lisbon-Lorient, Lorient-Galway) and two In-Port races. However, Franck Cammas and his crew still haven't done enough yet to be assured of a top spot. The finish in Lorient is very important for the French, who are keen to do well in home waters in this eleventh edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, which is making a stopover in Brittany for the first time…

Quotes from the boat
Franck Cammas: 'At the first mark, we'd already done 50% of the work! It's always more difficult to control your adversaries under spinnaker, but we really stretched our arms wide to just get ahead of Camper. Following that we sailed well, even though the end was more tense with a slight error in appreciating the layline… Our work is paying off as we've spent a lot of time on the water analysing this type of downwind start. This enabled us to trial the small jib so as we could hoist the spinnaker more quickly: the level of the fleet is very similar as we're coming to the end of the race now and everyone knows his boat very well. It's a positive thing to be able to bag a few more points, as there's still everything to play for until Galway. However this victory doesn't alter things much. We still have to be ahead of the Spanish and the Americans in Lorient!' explained Franck Cammas on the pontoons of Lisbon.

Charles Caudrelier: 'We're very proud of this race and it was a great moment to secure a win! However, above all this is the result of a great deal of work in the build up to this race, with two years of training and coaching from Thierry Péponnet for the In-Port races. This format was our weak point but since Brazil we've really made good progress: it's extremely satisfying! We got off to an excellent start; congratulations to Franck for that! It's a massive advantage to be ahead upwind, but we remained focused with Camper, who was putting a great deal of pressure on us at the start of the leg, followed by Puma. The aim then was to remain focused on our boat and the manoeuvres that needed to be performed. It's a good revision before the leg to Lorient…' stated Charles Caudrelier.

Standing in the In-Port race in Lisbon
1-Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas) in 1hr 01'30 = 6 points
2-Puma (Ken Read) 21' astern = 5 points
3-Camper (Chris Nicholson) 1'08 astern = 4 points
4-Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker) 1'43 astern = 3 points
5-Sanya (Mike Sanderson) 3'24 astern = 2 points
6-Telefonica (Iker Martinez) 4'10 astern = 1 point

Overall standing after seven oceanic legs and eight In-Port races
1-Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas) : 2+20+2+18+5+24+2+30+4+20+6+20+5+25+6 = 189 points
2-Telefonica (Iker Martinez) : 1+30+6+29+2+27+6+20+1+25+2+15+1+15+1 = 181 points
3-Puma (Ken Read) : 5+0+4+19+3+17+5+25+5+30+4+30+4+20+5 = 176 points
4-Camper (Chris Nicholson) : 4+25+5+24+4+18+3+15+6+15+5+25+3+10+4 = 166 points
5-Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker) : 6+0+3+10+6+14+4+10+2+0+3+10+6+30+3 = 107 points
6-Sanya (Mike Sanderson) : 3+0+1+5+2+5+1+5+3+0+0+0+2+5+2 = 34 points

Groupama sailing team - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12

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