Finishing in sixth and last place in the second event of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, the crew of Groupama Team France led by Franck Cammas leaves Gothenburg with some positive and not so positive memories, safe in the knowledge that they are making progress with this ambitious French challenge. With Emirates Team New Zealand taking the win ahead of Oracle Team USA and Land Rover BAR, the Swedish event has been outstanding, both in terms of the four races contested and the weather conditions that reigned on this atypical race zone.
When you’re striving for excellence at the very top level, you can expect to experience some tough times. That certainly does not translate as giving up though, quite the contrary in fact. On the shores of the North Sea, amidst a multitude of islands and islets, the men and women in Groupama Team France are realistic.
Questioned on Sunday on his return to the dock having secured a sixth then a third place in the day’s two races, Franck Cammas sums up the situation simply: “We still have a great deal of progress to make before we can battle it out with the head of the fleet on a regular basis. The distance between the top three and ourselves isn’t massive, but it’s enough for them to beat us. It’s going to be difficult to reverse the trend between now and the final event of the season, in Bermuda in seven weeks’ time, but we know what we still have to do”.
Pulling off some solid starts, correctly positioned on what was at times a tough race zone to get a handle on tactically, the French sometimes failed to quickly find the right trim and get up to speed in the transitions: “In the blustery conditions in particular, we’re not yet up to standard. The boat is very quick, very technical and very physically demanding. To really exploit her to the full, you have to spend hours and hours sailing, which is something we can’t do right now due to a lack of means. However, we’re preparing the sports programme with Bruno Dubois so as the five of us can amass more hours on the water together and gain the necessary reflex actions to perform well,” explains Thierry Fouchier, the only Frenchman to have won the America’s Cup, in charge of trimming the wing.
Put at a disadvantage on Sunday due to the absence of tactician Arnaud Psarofaghis, a victim of food poisoning, and replaced by Sébastien Stéphant, the crew of Groupama Team France missed out on a superb comeback by posting a poor second half in the third race. Pulling off another solid start in the fourth and final race of the event, Franck Cammas and his crew managed to hold onto their position right the way to the end, finishing ahead of the Americans and the English and pressuring Dean Barker’s Japanese team right the way to the finish: “We weren’t far off the mark as everything’s easier in the light airs. We had quite a good day on Sunday, but over the two days we finished in our rightful place given our performance. In the blustery conditions in particular, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. However, I’m convinced we can get there as we have a great team,” concludes Thierry Fouchier.
A few points shy of Artemis and SoftBank Team Japan, who were on their tails in Portsmouth, Groupama Team France will now set its sights on the third and final event of the year, which will be contested in Bermuda from 16 to 18 October:
“Unfortunately, the regulations stipulate that we cannot train on site on an AC 45 F (the craft used for the LVACWS) more than two days ahead of the event. However, we’ll get in some training the week after the race with SoftBank Team Japan,” adds Franck Cammas. In the meantime, Franck will be defending his 2013 title in the Little Cup in Geneva from 13 to 20 September and participating in the European Nacra 17 Championship in Barcelona from 26 September to 3 October.
Overall ranking in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Gothenburg:
1/ Emirates Team New Zealand, Peter Burling, 54 points
2/ Oracle Team USA, Jimmy Spithill, 48 points
3/ Land Rover BAR, Ben Ainslie, 46 points
4/ Softbank Team Japan, Dean Barker, 43 points
5/ Artemis Racing, Nathan Outteridge, 42 points
6/ Groupama Team France, Franck Cammas, 37 points
Overall ranking in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series after the first two events (Portsmouth and Gothenburg):
1/ Emirates Team New Zealand, Peter Burling, 72 points
2/ Land Rover BAR, Ben Ainslie, 65 points
3/ Oracle Team USA, Jimmy Spithill, 64 points
4/ Softbank Team Japan, Dean Barker, 56 points
5/ Artemis Racing, Nathan Outteridge, 53 points
6/ Groupama Team France, Franck Cammas, 50 points
The crew aboard Groupama Team France:
• Franck Cammas, skipper and helmsman
• Arnaud Psarofaghis, tactician
• Thierry Fouchier, wing trimmer
• Arnaud Jarlegan, headsail trimmer
• Devan le Bihan, bowman