Groupama Sailing Team: Diam 24: twice repeated - Grand Prix Atlantique, Pornichet, Brittany
After securing second place in the Spi Ouest France behind one of the two Spindrift crews, Groupama 24 does it again in Pornichet, Brittany, for the Grand Prix Atlantique organised by the APCC. Up against a more substantial and more uniform fleet than in La Trinité sur Mer, Pierre Pennec's crew made gains in terms of consistency and performance, despite one disqualification, which cost them precious points in the overall ranking.
Sometimes it can be rather annoying to finish second overall when victory appeared to be within arms reach. However, that's just how it goes and at times you have to make the best of a bad situation and learn from today's mistakes in order to do better tomorrow.
In this new one-design Diam 24 series, the programme offered in Pornichet is as interesting as it is innovative by combining technical courses, coastal courses and stadium races. The whole thing sees the entire fleet alternating between coastal and technical courses in two pools of twelve competitors, with a stadium format made up of groups of eight. Added to this, at the end of the day it is not possible to have a single discard for the overall ranking so every point counts.
Suffice to say that in this particular game, a consistent performance is essential if you are to stand a chance of a win. In this way, mirroring the leaderboard in La Trinité, some three crews stood out above the rest: the two Spindrifts and Groupama 24.
This domination did not however go unchallenged since there were some fine race wins and some sterling performances put up by the youngsters on Vannes Agglo led by Quentin Delapierre as well as Fred Guilmin and Damien Iehl on CombiWest, not to mention young Tim Mourniac, who was sailing with Fred Duthil on Grandeur Nature Veranda.
For Pierre Pennec, the results of this Grand Prix Atlantique are positive:
"We've made good progress in terms of fluidity and communication during the manoeuvres. The upshot of this was that I managed to look up from the helm and observe the race zone.
We made some solid tactical and strategic decisions, better than those in La Trinité in any case. Finally, on a technical level, our boat is beginning to feel nicely tuned. Olivier Mainguy from Groupama sailing team has done a great job on the deck layout".
Going fast, in the right place: that's the dream of any inshore racer. On top of that you need some good starts. In this particular area, the skipper of Groupama, Pierre Pennec, reckons he still has his work cut out before he's satisfied:
"During the stadium starts, we were slightly over-cautious. With this type of start, I'm used to heading off powered up, slightly set back from the rest. In this instance though, all the boats are at the line early and there's no room to move up from behind. We still need to work on the details so we can take the start of the Tour de France in the best possible conditions".
Whatever happens, for the next Diam 24 competition, the Grand Prix de l'Ecole Navale in a month's time, Pierre Pennec will pass the helm back to Franck Cammas and take up the role of trimmer and tactician whilst Arnaud Jarlegan will continue on the bow. Such a configuration will enable them to fully prepare for the big summer circuit around France, which will see the Groupama sailing team alternate between two crew compositions according to Cammas' availability between his Olympic programme and the America's Cup World Series.
Overall ranking in the Grand Prix Atlantique
1/ Spindrift White Yann Guichard 23 points
2/ Groupama Pierre Pennec 32 points
3/ Spindrift Black Xavier Revil 32 points
4/ Vannes Agglo-Golfe du Morbihan Quentin Delapierre 39 points
5/ Combiwest Frederic Guilmin 44 points
6/ West Courtage-Ecole Navale Simon Moriceau 51 points
7/ Macif Francois Gabart 63 points
8/ Votre Plus Long Periple Loic Fequet 63 points
9/ Armor Lux-Comptoir de la Mer Erwan Tabarly 66 points
10/ Dynamique Voile Emeric Dary 68 points
11/ Radio Vinci Autoroutes Jean-Baptiste Gellee 69 points
12/ Banque Populaire Armel le Cleac'h 76 points
.... 24 ranked.
Photo : Bruno Bouvry/Grand Prix Atlantique