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GROUPAMA ARRIVES IN ALICANTE
Monday, 25th October 2011, 15:00 GMT
While Volvo Open 70 skipper, Franck Cammas, prepares the maxi trimaran Groupama 3 in St Malo for the start of the Route du Rhum on 31 October, the rest of his Groupama 70 crew have sailed their Volvo Open 70 to Alicante, Spain.
The 11 crew, including a media crew member and a journalist, left their home base in Lorient last Monday afternoon. The trip took six days due to the weather conditions along the Portuguese coast and the yacht finally reached the Spanish port on Sunday morning.
The technical shore crew met their team on arrival and helped the tired sailors unload the VO70 and put the sails and equipment away.
Navigator Jean-Luc Nélias described the team's trip to Alicante: "There were no major problems on our way here, nothing broke and everything went well," he said. "The only thing was the little wind that slowed us down and made us use the motor more than what we would have liked for a Volvo Open 70. But overall, it was a good drill."
"We only experienced good wind conditions once we were sailing past Cape Finisterre and crossing the Strait of Gibraltar," Jean-Luc recalled. "During the rest of trip down the Portuguese Coast and the southern Spanish coast we had no other option than to use the yacht's motor. "
Groupama 70 have already started their training for the next edition of the race, and sailing to Alicante gives them the opportunity to assess the location of the start of next year's race.
"We have come to Alicante to get to know the place we will depart from in one year," Jean-Luc explained. "The purpose of this trip is to train and try out the boat, the crew and the shore team for the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race."
"We need to practice the logistics and technical part of the team as well as the planning and procedures with the crew and shore team, since we don't have everything under control yet."
Team Groupama has had a busy season in 2010 with the Extreme Sailing Series, Round Britain and Ireland Race and the preparations for the Route du Rhum but their attention is now shifting towards Spain for the next big challenge.
"Right now, with the other Groupama boats and the other races we're participating in, it is a bit complicated," the navigator admitted, "but one month from now we will be focusing on our new boat for the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race and on the Groupama 70 project."
Jean-Luc Nélias will be heading back to France on Tuesday to assist Franck Cammas with the routing for the Route du Rhum. The Groupama team will then return to Alicante in mid-November and then on to Lanzarote to continue with their preparations.
With only a year to go until the start, this short trip has been the perfect occasion for the international crew to practice their English and French and to continue to form a united Groupama 70 team.