Trimaran match race

Karine Fauconnier threatens to end the Cammas reign at the 60ft trimaran Grand Prix in La Trinite

Saturday May 1st 2004, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
There were some big grins and some decidedly unhappy skippers among the crews who hit the dock after race six of the ORMA 60ft trimaran Grand Prix in the racing off the multihull mecca of La Trinite-sur-Mer today. At the conclusion of yesterday's racing Franck Cammas' Groupama was tied on points with Karine Fauconnier's Sergio Tacchini, the leader with two wins, and after today's three races the situation has changed only marginally with Fauconnier edging ahead by just one point, the two boats steaming away from the rest of the fleet in the overall results.

Conditions were decided mixed out on the Bay of Quiberon today with proceedings licking off this morning in around 15 knots while for the 'long distance' race around the bay in the afternoon it had increased to a 20-25 knot easterly, occasionally gusting to 30. Seeing the trimarans being sailed to the max in these conditions by some of France's top sailors is probably the most exciting sailing spectacle you can experience in our sport.

Following a 60ft trimaran regatta in big conditions is hard work and is best achieved by helicopter, as Baron Benjamin Rothschild has when he has been unable to sail on his new Gitana XI. However for the 'long distance' race we were fortunate enough to be on the next best option, Royale Atlantic the TV catamaran belonging to Royale Productions, who handle TV production for the ORMA circuit. Aboard this we clocked the tris sailing at 18 knots upwind and maintaining numbers in the high 20s when they cracked sheets. Some boats recorded speeds of up to 35 knots and despite their curved foils supposedly helping the leeward floats out of the water, the boats often disappeared behind a maelstrom of spray, their crews wrestling with helm and sheets to throttle back on the occasions that the rudders and foils left the water. Gilles Martin-Raget's photo gallery illustrates today's drama. The 'long distance' race was over in just over two hours...

Unfortunately this being still early in the season some of the trimarans didn't survive the conditions. Alain Gautier's ill-fated Foncia suffered the most severe breakage when her mainsail split from luff to leech 6-7m from the head, a repeat of what had occured to the mainsail last year. " It was during a gybe," Gautier told thedailysail. "We stopped in a wave and the boat went down to 15 knots and it was not enough to gybe easily and the mainsail took a lot of pressure. It is repairable but not for tomorrow. So we will have to use our offshore mainsail."

Foncia has been performing disappointingly so far this regatta despite her winter mods. These have included the addition of a new trim tab to her daggerboard and moving the rudders in the floats forward so that they now attach to the helms via a system of bars. "Yesterday and today we were not very good," admitted Gautier. "We need some more sailing, more practise. For two years we have just made three grand prix and the others have made eight and each grand prix you progress." Part of the problem Gautier says is that he has the talented match racer and Melges 24 champion Sebastien Col on board calling tactics, but has yet to develop a good working relationship with him. They have made some mistakes because of this.

Otherwise Gautier is positive. "The boats are really close. We have no speed problem, when we are with other boats. Sometimes at the start we take more time to get up to speed because we lack practise."

The former Belgacom , Gitana 11 , has been performing much better than her predecessor Gitana X which continues to dog her way around the course well behind the rest of the fleet, despite now being in the hands of the experienced Marc Guillemot. However in the second 'banana' course this morning 11 suffered a problem with her rudder linkage and was forced to pull out of the race. Steve Ravussin's Banque Covefi also suffered problems with their genniker in the first race this morning causing them to finish last.

The first five races of the Grand Prix have either been won by Groupama or Sergio Tacchini and the outcome of this battle will be decided on the water tomorrow. However Michel Desjoyeaux stuck a spanner in the works today when he won the final race on board Geant .

Over the winter Geant has been under the knife as she of all the ORMA 60s has suffered from the new limits introduced this year on lifting foils (ORMA have decided, like many of the dinghy classes, that they don't want their boats to become fully airborne). Desjoyeaux says he had a choice between making his International 14-style rudder T-foils smaller or the lifting foils on Geant's floats. In the end he chose the former option and sold his 'big T-foil' to Gitana X. As a luxury mod prior to the Transat, Desjoyeaux says Geant now has a proper mounting for his 'bucket' down below, so that it stays in one place rather than getting thrown around.

Results after day two

Pos
Boat Skipper
R1
R2
R3
R4
R5
R6
Tot
1
Sergio Tacchini Karine Fauconnier
1
3
1
2
1
2
10
2
Groupama Franck Cammas
2
1
2
1
2
3
11
3
Géant Michel Desjoyeaux
4
7
4
4
3
1
23
4
Banque Populaire Lalou Roucayrol
3
4
3
5
9
7
31
5
Gitana 11 Fred le Peutrec
6
2
6
3
11
4
32
6
Banque Covefi Steve Ravussin
5
6
7
10
4
6
38
7
Sodebo Thomas Coville
9
5
9
6
7
5
41
8
Sopra Group Philippe Monnet
8
8
8
7
5
8
44
9
Foncia Alain Gautier
7
9
5
8
6
11
46
10
Gitana X Marc Guillemot
10
10
10
9
8
9
56

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