Groupama wins the 2011-2 Volvo Ocean Race
While in the dead of the night Camper reached Galway in first place, crossing the line at 00:42 UTC to claim on the Volvo Ocean Race's ninth and final leg, it was Groupama's second place finish just seven minutes later that saw the French team take overall victory in the 2011-12 edition of the fully crewed round the world race in its closest ever finish.
Yesterday evening just 6 miles separated the four leaders with Puma out in front. But the key moment came 50 miles from the finish, when with the breeze lightening and backing into the south it came time to gybe. Groupama was the first to perform this manoeuvre, followed by Camper, whilst Puma and Telefonica delayed. This resulted in the reshuffle of the leaders that allowed Camper to pull into first place with the French VO70 directly astern of her with Puma and Telefonica falling in behind.
Groupama now has an unassailable 24-point lead with just one in-port race to go next Saturday.
Skipper Cammas, 39, threw his arms up and pumped his fists in the air while tens of thousands of fans gathered on the dock of Galway Bay to cheer home the crew, including Ireland's top offshore sailor Damian Foxall, to victory.
Not since Lionel Péan skippered L’Esprit d’Equipe to victory in 1985-86 has a French team tasted glory in the fully crewed round the world race.
On his arrival Franck Cammas, skipper of Groupama said: "To win the Volvo Ocean Race is a very great challenge when you're a novice to this race and French as well! That's what has been motivating and exciting for this team: achieving what nobody expects of you.
"We weren't a favourite or even an outsider at the start in Alicante. We were also in an easy position, especially as this first crewed race around the world was about learning the ropes prior to a planned second participation. We were here to discover the race without any pressure on us, so to win was a surprise to everyone... despite putting a huge amount of work into the race over the past three years.
"We entered the bubble where all we thought about was the race and we didn't think any further than that: our world may well be a bit empty for a few days after this coming weekend. However, after a victory such as this, we'll have many great memories and trust in our way of working and in our strategy that we can look forward to other challenges. This is an epic dream, which has come true today and I can honestly say that I didn't think we would win on our first attempt!
"We've become a good crew over the miles. Initially we thought that the Spanish were going to walk away with the race win but we knew that it was still very close between four boats, all of which had a chance of winning. It's been an extraordinary race as there have never been so many uncertainties in a round the world race.
"We'd still very much like to win the last In-Port in Galway on Saturday, just as a thank you to Thierry Péponnet, who told us to finish in front in the short races: we need to round things off in style! We're very happy to be able to compete in the last race without any pressure on our shoulders..."
Thousands of Irish supporters enveloped the Galway basin with extraordinary enthusiasm, which reached fever point when the French boat tied up alongside, congratulating the first Irish winner of the Volvo Ocean Race: Damian Foxall, watch leader on Groupama 4!
With this second place ahead of the Americans and the Spanish, Franck Cammas and his crew are assured of outright victory in the overall standing, even before the final `In-Port' race sets sail this coming Saturday. With a lead of 24 points over Camper, Groupama 4 is now the unassailable, outright winner of the eleventh edition of this crewed round the world race, in what is a first for a French team since victory went to Lionel Péan and his men in 1985-86...
Of his leg nine victory Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said: "Even before we sarted this last leg I knew we were going to win it. It's been a privilege and I'm proud to have been part of this team. I look at what everyone does day in day out and I think this is the sailing team’s way of saying thank you."
This was Camper's first leg win in the race and all but guarantees they will finish second overall. Puma finished into Galway third at 00:55:01 UTC ahead of Team Telefónica, which finished at 00:59:33 UTC. Puma is set to finish behind them in third overall unless Camper somehow fails to complete Saturday’s In-Port Race and Puma go on to win it.
Arrivals in Galway (UTC)
1-Camper (Chris Nicholson) Tuesday 3 July at 00h 42' 13 in 1d 13h 40' 13
2-Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas) 00h 49' 11
3-Puma (Ken Read) 00h 55' 01
4-Telefonica (Iker Martinez) 00h 59' 33
5-Sanya (Mike Sanderson) 03h 14' 27
6-Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker) 03h 23' 29
Overall results (with Galway in port to go)
|Alicante In port||2||5||4||1||6||3|
|Alicante-Cape Town||20||0 *||25||30||0 *||0 *|
|Cape Town In Port||2||4||5||6||3||1|
|Cape Town -Abu Dhabi||18||19||24||29||10||5|
|Abu Dhabi In Port||5||3||4||2||6||2|
|Sanya In Port||2||5||3||6||4||1|
|Auckland In Port||4||5||6||1||2||3|
|Auckland-Itajaí||20||30||15||25||0 *||0 *|
|Itajaí In Port||6||4||5||2||3||0 **|
|Miami In Port||5||4||3||1||6||2|
|Lisbon In Port||6||5||4||1||3||2|
|Lisbon In Port||6||4||5||3||2||1|
Photos below by Paul Todd and Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race