After a world championship cut short by complicated weather, the Nacra 17s are this week competing in their European Championship in Spain. Among the 43 competitors, including a number of non-Europeans, Franck Cammas and Sophie de Turckheim are representing France alongside two others crews in the absence of the Besson – Riou duo. Eighth in the provisional overall ranking after the first three races, the Groupama pairing is very much on top of its game, despite a counter performance in the second race.
First discovered by the majority of racers during the Olympic Games in 1992, which saw two French crews take the crown (Loday – Hénard in the Tornado and Franck David in windsurfing), the race zone in Barcelona is famous for being tactically complicated and technically wearing, particularly in an onshore breeze.
Coincidently, it’s a Force 3 easterly breeze which has kicked off proceedings in the European Championship: ‘There’s a great deal of chop and even a bit of swell coming from offshore. In such conditions, the boat is very demanding technically. That suits us pretty well as we’re very quick on the beats,’ explains a happy Sophie after this first day of racing: ‘Obviously we’d have preferred to secure a podium place in each of the three races but strangely the left-hand side of the racecourse was working best in the second race whilst we’d opted for the right. Very quickly, the separation between ourselves and the frontrunners was huge so we didn’t manage to pick off many of our rivals. It’s not serious though as the others didn’t have a great race either,’ continues Franck Cammas’ crew.
With a second, third and twenty-sixth place, Franck and Sophie are lying in eighth place in the provisional ranking: ‘Contrary to other competitions, there’s just one fleet. The standard is very high so it’s easy to get caught out and post a poor race. If we discard the worst result, we’re third behind an English and a Spanish boat. That said it’s important not to focus on the ranking. We’re taking each race as it comes and Franck and I are enjoying ourselves. Being quick is a real bonus,’ adds Sophie.
Indeed, on the start line, the 43 competing crews aren’t there to let their rivals off lightly: ‘We’re less than a year away from the Olympic Games and the selection rounds are fast approaching. Aside from the top two in the last World Championship, everyone’s here. As such, we’re all determined to win,’ Sophie concludes in competitive fashion.
With the support of two coaches, Bertrand Pacé for the strategy and tactics and Pierre Pennec to fine-tune the technical details and observe their competition, Franck and Sophie are in good hands. Right now, they just have to focus on continuing to be on top of their game through until Saturday and the Medal Race on the final day…
Provisional overall ranking after the first three races:
1. GBR 254 – Ben Saxton / Nicola Groves – 10 points
2. ESP 028 – Fernando Echavarri / Tara Pacheco – 16 points
3. AUS 242 – Darren Bundock / Nina Curtis – 19 points
4. GBR 42 – Lucy Macgregor / David Evans – 27 points
5. DEN 281 – Allan Norregaard / Annette Viborg – 28 points
6. SUI 220 – Matias Bulher / Nathalie Brugger – 29 points
7. GBR 120 – Tom Phipps / Nicola Boniface – 30 points
8. FRA 077 – Franck Cammas / Sophie De Turckheim – 31 points
9. DEN 282 – Lin Ea Cenholt / Christian Peter Lübeck – 31 points
10. GER 211 – Paul Kohlhoff / Carolina Werner – 31 points