Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Victory for Groupama 2 in the Trophy SNSM

[Source: Groupama] For want of quantity, the quality was very much in evidence at the Trophy SNSM with the two leaders of the ORMA series, namely Banque Populaire and Groupama. Accompanied by some excellent crew members, Franck Cammas and Pascal Bidégorry relished the fifty hours or so over a course unanimously agreed to be "superb". Winner of the 2007 edition, the Basque skipper of the blue boat didn't manage to double his stake, preceded by 6 minutes over the finish line in Saint Nazaire by Groupama 2.

In the lock leading to the competitors' basin, Groupama 2 was wisely waiting for the gates to open. On the quay, the crew was all smiles, not simply because they'd completed the 560 mile course but rather because they managed to catch up with their rival and then get past them after trailing by up to 14 miles at the midway mark.

Groupama arrives victorious at the Trophy SNSM. Saint Malo, 25 June 2008. Video copyright Groupama

A bowl of pasta in one hand, a fork in the other, Franck Cammas is savouring this new victory: "We made some mistakes, but we never gave up. Up against a high class adversary in the form of Banque Populaire, we really had to fight, especially after getting stuck for 3 hours at Ushant during the climb up towards St Malo. I am proud of my crew. We didn't sleep much and didn't eat much, but we won and that's why we came here".

His face reddened by the sun, Jean-Baptiste Levaillant adds: "It's a really fine course. Not only were we able to admire the Breton coast, but we also appreciated the highly technical and very tactical nature of the course. In the end it was very open too as, despite the slight errors we made, we managed to get back with Banque Pop". From one of the greatest racers in metropolitan France, it's quite a compliment.

Never far away and always highly enthusiastic, navigator Stève Ravussin confirms this: "Even for a specialist of Lake Geneva, the light airs weren't easy to handle as there's considerable current here. At Ushant, we weren't making any more headway. After battling for two hours, we ended up in the same spot. That's very rare on a multihull" humbling adding: "During the return trip back to Saint Nazaire, Franck took control of the navigation", as if to suggest the skipper was better. His bowl of pasta empty but still in his hand, the skipper of Groupama explains: "Banque Populaire was ahead but we knew he was going to stall prior to us with the current on the nose. This enabled us to close on them and then attack".

Intriguingly, it was at Ushant that Groupama 2 managed to catch up with Banque Populaire before going on to overtake them in virtually no wind in the Mer d'Iroise off Brest.

From then on the pace of the race picked up markedly in a breeze of around fifteen knots, which enabled the two trimarans to sail at between 20 and 30 knots and cross the finish in the superb sunset light.

Side by side under gennaker, the two crews were able to power their all too rare racing machines right up. The central hulls just at the surface of the water, perfectly balanced, the performance totally pure.

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