Franck Cammas and Groupama conclude Extreme 40 training in Valencia
[Source: Cammas-Groupama] Though the programme for the maxi-trimaran Groupama 3 is living up to all expectations, unfortunately this won't be the case for the ORMA circuit in which Groupama 2 was racing as, due to a lack of competitors, the triple world champion in the series has today been put into storage in Groupama team's yard in Lorient. To fill this void, Franck Cammas and his crew will be participating in the entire iShares Cup circuit, developed for the third consecutive year by Dame Ellen MacArthur and her associate, Mark Turner.
Contested aboard 12 metre long one-design catamarans referred to as "eXtreme 40s", the iShares circuit will make stopovers in six European countries: Italy, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Holland and Spain. Sailing aboard Groupama 40, Franck Cammas will rediscover some familiar faces from the multihull world, notably French sailors Loïck Peyron and Yann Guichard, as well as Australian James Spithill and even the double Olympic medallist Shirley Robertson, all of whom will be racing their own steeds.
The Groupama Extreme 40 trains in Valencia. Photo copyright Yvan Zedda
In order to prepare for the first event which will be held in Venice in a month's time, Franck Cammas and his three crew, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier and Fred Le Maistre, have been sailing in Valencia in Spain, where there are two eXtreme 40s in the colours of Oracle and Yann Guichard's Gitana Extreme: "We've spent nearly a week training aboard Groupama 40. Clearly it's simpler than what we did aboard Groupama 2 as the boats are smaller. However, it's also more hotly contested as we all have the same boats and hence the same speeds".
A competitor through and through, Franck Cammas is already familiar with the iShares circuit after racing in Cowes last year and in Marseilles in 2007: "The course are very short. As such it's imperative that you get off to a good start, get on the right tack and manoeuvre well. The slightest error is paid for in cash", explains the skipper of Groupama 40.
As was the case when he raced in the ORMA Grand Prix circuit, Cammas has surrounded himself with a fantastic crew. Calling tactics is Tanguy Cariou, who has already sailed on Groupama and Groupama 2. In charge of the trimming is Thierry Fouchier, he too a familiar face aboard Groupama 2. Performing the manoeuvres is Frédéric Le Maistre, a newcomer in the team. A former crew of Alain Gautier on the Decision 35, he knows what's called for: "We needed a powerful guy in this position. Fred is exactly that, added to which he is very personable at sea and very determined."
In essence the crew aboard Groupama 40 is well grounded and well trained: "In Valencia, the bulk of the time was spent sailing in light winds. We'll have to see what happens in breezier conditions but one thing for sure is that the races are going to be very hotly contested. We're in contact with each other the whole time. It's full-on", concludes Franck, who's just left Valencia for Venice, where the maxi trimaran Groupama 3 awaits him: "The boats don't have much in common. However, we're going to make the most of the opportunity to stake out the race zone, which is a good thing."