Peyron back on form

As Fujifilm takes first race at Belgium ORMA Grand Prix for the 60ft tris

Friday July 12th 2002, Author: Vincent Horeau, Location: none selected

On day one of the Zeebrugge multihull grand prix there was clear domination by the two green trimarans Loick Peyron's Course des Phares winner Fujifilm and Franck Cammas' Groupama, winner of last year's Transat Jacques Vabre. But Loïck Peyron, who dominated this class throughout the 1990s, is clearly back on form since changing to a new boat and nearly always manages to make the difference, sometimes right from the start, sometimes in the very last boat lengths of these three windward-leeward courses. With two victories, Fujifilm is making a strong bid for this second Grand Prix of the 9 Telecom Championship but Cammas has not said his last word.

There was not much wind off the Belgium port of for the first day of racing but all the same, the race committee did manage to run three races in a row. Right from the first windward-leeward, Franck Cammas and Loïck Peyron demonstrated their ease on this difficult course where the tide sometimes reaches more than three knots!

In the first race, the differences began to show on the windward leg along the coast, with Groupama following five boat lengths behind Fujifilm, then rounding the windward mark in the lead. Behind, the fleet of tris was led by Philippe Monnet who was sailing fast considering this is his first real Grand Prix since this new Marc Lombard design was launched. But it was in the final downwind leg that Groupama could no longer control Peyron's newer boat which gybed earlier and scored her first victory of the day.

The scenario was similar for the second race except that this time Loïck Peyron was in the lead right from the start, with Franck Cammas hot on his heels, with the tide this time against them on the downwind leg. Groupama made the same mistake with Foncia by "not covering her and Franck Cammas was once again pipped at the post! Jean-Luc Nélias' Belgacom, the home team for this Grand Prix, got off to a very bad start but came back strongly to take fourth place while Monnet's Sopra Group messed up the first downwind leg by heading off on her own to the right-hand side of the course.

The final race of the day once again confirmed that the green boats had that little extra enabling them to immediately break away from the fleet. In these light airs, being in front right from the starting gun simplifies the tactical choices: no sails disturbing the air up ahead, better visibility over the course and the wind variations, more room for rounding far away from other boats.

Bertrand de Broc on board Banque Covefi got off to a superb start that propelled him into third place as they rounded the windward mark, just astern of Fujifilm and Groupama. Unfortunately, after rounding the windward mark for the second time, the wind died completely, causing a bunching up of the fleet. Franck Cammas was first to pick up a first zephyr of breeze at the dog-leg mark, and held the lead until the race committee decided to shorten course.

The outcome of this first day of the Belgium Grand Prix clearly indicates that Fujifilm and Groupama are not only the fastest (the differences have always remained fairly slight compared with the other tris), but above all are the best when it comes to trimming and the most opportunist when it comes to tactics. But keep an eye open for the two new tris of this 2002 season; Sopra Group and Foncia, which have proved the most able to worry the leading duo.

Provisional results after 3 races:
1- Loïck Peyron (Fujifilm) 4 points (1+1+2)
2- Franck Cammas (Groupama) 6 points (2+3+1)
3- Alain Gautier (Foncia) 13 points (5+2+6)
4- Jean-Luc Nélias (Belgacom) 15 points (7+4+4)
5ex- Philippe Monnet (Sopra Group) 16 points (3+6+7)
5ex- Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) 16 points (6+5+5)
7- Bertrand de Broc (Banque Covefi) 18 points (8+7+3)
8- Karine Fauconnier (Sergio Tacchini) 20 points (4+8+8)

Good start for Groupama on the first race

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