How Groupama won the Volvo Ocean Race

Ian Roman Photography / Volvo Ocean Race
Franck Cammas and Laurent Pages give us their views
This Volvo Ocean Race confirmed some myths about the Volvo Ocean Race and dispelled others. The victors, Groupama, continued the tradition of the winning team acquiring the previous winning boat, in this case Ericsson 4. However this time the first boat into Cape Town did not end up winning the race overall and, for the first time since Yamaha II overhauled Tokio after the latter dismasted during the Volvo 60s’ first outing in 1993/4, there was a mid-race change of leader. In fact, if you just look at the big boat class (when the race had more than one class), Flyer II in 1981 was the last boat to win overall without having been first into Cape Town (courtesy of Lizzie Ward). The 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race was also very strange in that all of the boats were at some point hampered by significant technical issues that cost them points. In fact you could argue that the overall results were ultimately determined on how much boats broke – whether it was Groupama or Puma’s dismastings, Camper’s mid-Pacific structural issue or Telefonica’s rudder breakages. Groupama can be excluded from this because her dismasting cost her 15 points into Itajai, but she went on to win overall by 22 points. The return of the French Groupama was something of an unknown going into this Volvo Ocean Race. It was the first time a French team had entered the race since La Poste in 1993-4 and there were rumours of sparks flying within the team as the Anglo-Saxon world of the fully crewed round the world race clashed with French offshore racing culture. The green boat also didn’t have the powerhouse crew of Volvo Ocean Race veterans like all of her competitors, with one third of her crew having never competed before and only Damian Foxall