Juanpa Cadario: Franck Cammas, nuevo rey de la Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale 2010

Franck Cammas, nuevo rey de la Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale 2010

Foto copyrigth AFP

Fuente info RDR

Cammas King of the Rhum

When he brought the giant 31.5 metres trimaran Groupama 3 across the finish line off Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe today (Tuesday) under perfect sunshine and light breezes Franck Cammas (FRA) clinched the 9th edition of the Route du Rhum - La Banque Postale, the legendary 3542 miles transatlantic race from Saint Malo for solo skippers which takes place every four years.

Cammas completes an outstanding year with the giant multihull which he now steps off for high next challenge, racing fully crewed round the world in 70 foot monohulls.

In March this year he already set the fully crewed round the world Jules Verne Trophy record with the boat, sailing with a crew of ten to smash the record by 2 days 08 hours 35 minutes.

The winning skipper acknowledged that the start in Saint Malo and the very slow, upwind finish tacking more than 15 times over the last 24 hours, skirting voracious rain clouds which sucked away the breeze and trying to find the best angles in through the chain of Caribbean islands, were the most stressfull for him mentally.

Groupama 3 crossed the finish line at 16h 16min 47secs (CET Paris) (15hrs 16mins 47secs GMT/ 11hrs 16mins 47 seconds Local time)

The elapsed time for the course, after starting Saint Malo at 1302hr (CET/Paris)
was 9 days 3 hours 14 mins 47 seconds and the average speed over the course on the water was. 20.39 knots for an actual course sailed of 4471 miles.

But the course record of 7 days17 hrs 19 mins 6 seconds, which was set in 2006 by Lionel Lemonchois in an exceptional weather pattern still stands.

Cammas adds his name to the legend of the 'Rhum' as successor to Mike Birch, Marc Pajot, Philippe Poupon, Florence Arthaud, Laurent Bourgnon, Michel Desjoyeaux and Lionel Lemonchois.

Playing to the strengths of the skipper and an optimum route for the fleet's most powerful boat was key to Groupama's victory in this clash of the giants, the first time the unlimited multihulls of the Ultime class have raced head to head.
Even though Cammas has raced Groupama 3 for the best part of four years, single-handing was a step into the unknown. He and his weather team – both past Transatlantic race experts, Caudrelier most recently partnering Marc Guillemot to win last years Transat Jacques Vabre – chose a southerly routing under the Azores high which proved to be only really opened fully to the speed of Groupama 3.

Chasing hard, Francis Joyon – who set the solo round the world record in 2008 – had closed in to second place on Idec. Passing Thomas Coville (Sodebo) early this morning, Joyon's faster arrival from his more direct, more southerly routing saw him close reaching in to the tip of Guadeloupe, gaining more than 260 miles on the leader over the final 24 hours. Joyon is expected to finish around 2100hrs this evening.

Franck Cammas/Groupama 3's winning Race

The Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale winner Franck Cammas and his weather team had his strategy marked out early.

With the Azores high pressure systems blocking the route there were two options: going east and south early to try and get under the high before it elongated moving east.
Groupama was the most southerly of the Ultime class giants as they exited the English Channel on a port gybe, and paid some early miles for their position as Sodebo and Air Oman Majan stayed further north to take the wind shift to the NW as it came.

That meant that as Cammas was nearly across the Bay of Biscay he was calculated as fourth placed and having a 55 miles deficit on early leader Sodebo, but that was entirely inconsequential.

Francis Joyon (Idec) and Yann Guichard (Gitana XI) formed the trio with Groupama 3 who set their stall early that the southern option appeared best to them.
Going north Thomas Coville (Sodebo) and Sidney Gavignet (Oman Air Majan) were following a traditional strategy which would yield more wind pressure, more slogging upwind or close to it, but theoretically sail fewer miles and usually get them to the faster downwind conditions earlier.

Monday 1st Cammas passed only 18 miles off Cape Finisterre in fourth place at around 1400hrs (CET) and gybed twice off the Portuguese coast – about 130 miles off Lisbon – then with a deficit of 13 miles on leader Sodebo, as the long time rivals set up to go either side of the high pressure.

Clearly between his observations and those of routers Jean-Luc Nélias and Charles Caudrelier, the Groupama team had an excellent handle on the south eastern limits of the high and its movements, as Cammas skirted neatly below it on two accurate gybes.

Then as soon as the solo skipper started pressing Groupama 3 in a more westerly direction on 2/11 on the 0800hrs (CET) ranking he took the lead and was never seriously challenged again. And the next day he was already 211 miles ahead of Sodebo.

Thursday 4/11 as Coville slowed through the front, Groupama 3's lead was at its biggest of the race, 346.5 miles. Groupama averages 26 knots over thirteen hours.

From there Friday 5/11 Sodebo came back temporarily with stronger wind pressure in the north, but as the pair passed the symbolic midway mark by Saturday it looked an even match for some time as the pair dealt with gusty, squally showers giving unstable winds of 25-40 knots.

With 800 miles to go Saturday 6/11 Groupama 3 lead Sodebo by just over 200 miles as the pair gybed down the corridor of strongest trade-like NE'lies, before Cammas sets up for the final upwind tacking, against the light southerly which required one prolonged final effort, constantly manoeuvring and trimming the giant tri.

Under the edge of line of squally showers Sodebo had a painful Sunday evening and night, slowed significantly by some rain clouds losing 68 miles to the leader.

To the end, Cammas kept his rival in a loose cover. At 0800hrs Monday morning Sodebo was twice as far from the finish as he was, and the job was all but done.

On ranking this win among others:

“All victories are good but I've never experienced a finish like this, either the weather on the water or the welcome here.”
“This victory is was not really expected, we prepared very well but I did not really know how it would unfold on the boat, so it is hard to know how to rank it in the list. But certainly I am very proud to be able to add my name to those who have won it before me.”

On the southern routing:
“After the first 24 hours I had settled in and felt like I knew the boat, so I knew it was not that difficult to sail the boat and be in front so it was let's go for it.”

What it will mean to him?
“ I think I was a pretty good sailor before the start in Saint Malo and so I am not sure that this win will change anything. There were many other good sailors at sea and I was very happy to be out there competing with Francis and Thomas. It goes without saying that I was happy to be in front of them.”

A step into the unknown?
“I left without any pressure, but like for the others it was into the unknown with the boat. It really depended on having the good weather for the boat, we picked a route which was best for the boat. We were far from the potential that we develop with the crew. In some ways that was a bit frustrating at times, but that is single-handing.”

On the route and sailing the boat, and working with Jean Luc Nélias and Charles Caudrelier?
“ After Fréhel we took different routes. Generally I feel very good with the boat in shifty conditions. The first morning I had a very good position. That first night I had to manoeuvre a lot, but then the weather opportunity we had chosen closed behind me.”

“ We worked with the routers to sail to the optimum potential of the boat, and I was sometimes sailing with the boat at 98% of its potential in this configuration (shorter rig, etc) The course to the south was good if I was going fast. Francis and Gitana did not really make it. After that we really had to see if the ones in the north would come back. Thomas did a good job, but I think his course was a more technical course than mine and I suppose Gitana suffered a bit dealing with the front.”

On having the giants in the Rhum:
“ I was thinking that it was a very good boat for double handed sailing. I had a conversation with Jean (Maurel race director) about single handed sailing the boat and that it could be dangerous in the squalls, but I was more confident with the boat in them than with the 60 footer.”

The first Provencal to win the Rhum, you'll need to ask the Bretons what they think. But I have been adopted!

There is always pleasure and satisfaction when you sail. There are conditions you feel at one with the boat. Above all when you sail a boat like Gitana 3, you have to have high expectations to be able to reach them.

What he did like most?

“I did not like the waiting in Saint Malo and I did not like the last hours of the race, those miles were unfolding very slowly. The conditions were just not very nice and you went to get off and enjoy it and celebrate.”

On the present and future, heading into the Volvo Ocean Race
“ I thank Groupama for the opportunity to do this and move on to the Volvo. We have a really good team. We have the design and the sailing background and knowledge to show the anglo-saxons that we can make it. The English have interesting know-how.”

On the start and the first few hours?
“Eighty four boats on the start line was quite impressive, it was an emotional but nice stat. The first real moon I saw was last night. The nights were pitch black and the winds more often than not shifty, I was nervous when it was squally. But I had confidence in the boat, and much of that was developed and instilled sailing with the crew, so I had confidence in the platform for sure. In a 45 knots squall you grab the helm and wait for it to pass. But it could become unmanageable. So you just grab the helm and pray…..but its better than the 60 footers.”