Groupama on their Volvo Ocean Race plans
Groupama have revealed a little more about their entry into the Volvo Ocean Race, which will see Franck Cammas' team compete in the next two events. The announcement was made at the Eric Tabarly's Cité de la Voile in Lorient.
"When we committed ourselves to supporting Franck Cammas back in 1998, he was a young sports entrepreneur, who was just discovering the multihull scene," said Frédérique Granado, Groupama's Director of External Communications. "12 years on, he has won virtually all the crewed [offshore] races and racked up no less than six records, including the legendary Jules Verne Trophy on 20 March 2010. By confirming our commitment to the next two Volvo Ocean Races until 2015, we are supporting the group's international development, which makes 30% of its turnover overseas and employs over 11,000 employees outside France. Groupama is today identified as the leading sail boat team in French sailing. With the Volvo Ocean Race, this will further develop overseas."
Already Groupama are working full steam ahead and led by Cammas has 45 people employed focussing on the VOR campaign. "The challenge we've committed ourselves to is a sizeable one," says Cammas. "Since 1993 and Eric Tabarly, not a single French team has participated in the Volvo Ocean Race. Up against the top crews from New Zealand, America, Spain and Ireland, it's going to be an intense battle. We're just rediscovering monohulls and we still have a lot to learn. However, we're going about it with as much enthusiasm, seriousness and humility as possible. Thanks to Groupama's commitment, we were the first to put our team together. Making up my entourage are Volvo specialists like Damian Foxall, Ben Wright, Luc Gellusseau, Hervé Le Quilliec as well as Killian Bush, who are joining together with various long-term stalwarts of the Groupama Team like Stéphane Guilbaud, Pierre Tissier, Loïc Dorez, Yann Riou and Olivier Mainguy."
With the purchase of Ericsson 4, winner of the last Volvo Ocean Race, the Groupama team can boast an excellent platform for training and development. Rechristened Groupama 70, the Juan Koujoumdjian design is performing repeated sea trials off Lorient.
When the team aren't out sailing, the various members of the team are involved in the design of the new VO70.
"Unfortunately we didn't have the time to involve the excellent French architects in the work, as they are also only just discovering the restrictions of the VO70 rule," continues Cammas. "As such we opted for Juan Koujoumdjian, who is based in Valencia, Spain. However, it's actually in nearby Vannes, at the Multiplast yard, that Groupama 4 will be built. This will represent 40,000 man hours and we know the team there well because we built the maxi trimaran Groupama 3 with them"
With work having started in the last few days, construction will take 10 months until her scheduled launch on 15 March 2011. In the meantime, the Groupama skipper will also take part in the Route du Rhum La Banque Postale aboard Groupama 3 but adapted to solo sailing, as well as the Extreme Sailing Series Europe aboard Groupama 40.
Interview with watch leader Damian Foxall follows