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Extreme Sailing Series - A winning recipe for Groupama?

by Vincent Borde on 10 Dec 2014
Groupama - Extreme Sailing Series™ 2014 Yvan Zedda
At the Extreme Sailing Series eighth and final event of the 2014 season, the Sydney stage promises to be highly representative of this international championship, which groups together some of the best multihull teams in the world. Aboard Groupama 40, Franck Cammas and his crew will be attempting to turn the experience acquired over the first seven events to good account by moving up the leaderboard and even set its sights on the top five.

The Extreme Sailing Series championship is original in more ways than one: it gathers together the very best teams aboard powerful, spectacular catamarans over short courses set within direct contact of the spectators.
Gone are the monohulls helmed by skippers dressed in white shirts and now it's over to multihulls piloted by helmeted athletes. Whether they go by the name of Ben Ainslie, Dean Barker, Leigh MacMillan or Morgan Larson, these top-flight racers haven't taken long to master the subtleties of the close-contact racing, in which opportunism often gets the upper hand over the tactics learned in their youth from sailing manuals.

Unstoppable at this little game, the team of double America's Cup champion Ernesto Bertarelli is likely to make the most of this final Australian leg to take victory in the championship. Indeed, the Swiss team currently boasts an eight-point lead over The Wave Muscat. As such, despite the coefficient two applied here to add to the suspense, if The Wave secures a leg win here then the Swiss team mustn't finish shy of fifth place overall to retain its title. Suffice to say then that Bertarelli's men have some room for manoeuvre, their worst result since the start of the season being a third place...

Behind these two leaders, the battle for third place sadly won't be as hotly contested as originally thought in Sydney, Indeed, close as it is, Team New Zealand has announced that it won't be coming to Sydney as it is keen to focus on the 35th America's Cup, which will be organised in Bermuda in 2017.
As such, it's highly likely that the current fourth placed boat overall, Swiss boat Realstone, will snatch the third step of the podium.

A little further down the overall leaderboard, Groupama will be going all out to get the upper hand over the Russians on Gazprom and Oman Air: 'For this final leg, we have a new crew member. Remaining in France for the birth of his child, Devan Le Bihan has been replaced by Hervé Cuningham, who has previously sailed with the Gitana team'explains the on-board tactician, Tanguy Cariou over the phone.

'We're sailing just a hundred metres or so from Sydney Opera House. It's fabulous. You just have to make sure you properly adhere to the exclusion zones intended for the numerous ferries. Other than that it's pretty similar to the other race zones with the wind disturbed by the city environment'.

More at ease in the breeze rather than the light airs, Groupama sailing team should be spoilt for choice by the weather forecast for the area. Indeed from Thursday, the first day of racing, there will be 20 knots of wind on the race zone, gusting to 30: : 'It's going to be full-on but we're ready for it. That said, we could definitely do with a bit of sunshine as it's been raining constantly. It's pouring,' concludes Tanguy Cariou.

Could this finally be the winning recipe for Groupama?

The crew of Groupama 40 in Sydney from 11 to 14 December:

Franck Cammas, skipper
Tanguy Cariou, tactician
Thierry Fouchier, trimmer
Hervé Cuningham, trimmer
Romain Moteau, bowman
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