Groupama Sailing Team - Nacra 17: Franck and Sophie are ready to go
With three weeks until the World Championships of the Olympic Nacra 17 series, Franck Cammas and Sophie de Turckheim are revving up. Sixth and the only French team in the race, the crew of Groupama were constantly battling it out with the head of the fleet despite the breezy conditions, which haven't been a favourite of theirs thus far. Boosted by a level of confidence that has been patiently built up, the most highly awarded of the mixed couples is actively preparing for the worlds.
When he declared an interest in selection for the Olympic Games in Rio in the Nacra 17 catamaran series back in 2013, Franck Cammas surprised a fair few observers. More widely known for his victories in crewed round the world racing aboard multihulls and monohulls, or singlehanded across the Atlantic, the skipper of Groupama wanted a crack at a fresh challenge generally reserved for young round-the-cans specialists close to the beaches. Three years on, the application and conscientiousness of Franck and Sophie has won over the sceptics and is beginning to worry the leaders of the series.
In Weymouth, for the third Sailing World Cup of the season, the French crew has really progressed at the head of the fleet: "We had wind again this week and we sailed some very fine races. We're super quick and our manoeuvring is getting better and better. We can take lots of positives from this past week. The only other thing we'd have liked would have been the opportunity to race with a little less wind so as to test the boat in these conditions, as it's been a long time since we've raced in light to medium airs. However, that's what we may have in the Worlds in three weeks' time," comments Sophie de Turckheim, who has been going out on the wire with Franck for some three years.
In Lorient with Franck the day after the Medal Race finale in Weymouth, Sophie is gladly keeping up with the pace set by her helmsman: "Franck never stops, but it's really nice sailing with him. The pair of us are in a positive phase. He has even offered me the chance to put in a few tacks on the AC45 today".
Supporting the two champions, Bertrand Pacé is acting as coach. In attendance throughout the week's racing in Weymouth, Pacé notes the progress made: "It's considerably better, though there's still room to progress. When I look at the order in which they round the first windward mark in every race contested, I tell myself that anything's possible".
Coming from the lips of Pacé, such words are worth their weight in gold, but there's no way you'd get Cammas to react to these observations. At Groupama sailing team's base in the port of Lorient, which is currently hosting a stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race, the last edition of which saw Franck take victory, the sailor's attention is focused on another catamaran, a foiling one this time. A catamaran which flies, propelled along by a wing, aboard which he'll spend the whole week sailing so as to prepare for the first race in the AC45 World Series, which will be held in late July in Portsmouth, just after the Tour de France à la Voile.
Overall ranking for the Sailing World Cup in Weymouth:
1. AUS Jason Waterhouse / Lisa Darmanin - 47.00
2. SUI Matías Bühler Matías / Nathalie Brugger - 56.00
3. AUS Darren Bundock / Nina Curtis - 57.00
4. ITA Vittorio Bissaro / Silvia Sicouri - 61.00
5. GBR John Gimson / Hannah Diamond - 65.00
6. FRA Franck Cammas / Sophie de Turckheim - 75.00
7. AUT Thomas Zajac / Tanja Chiara Frank - 75.00
8. GBR Ben Saxton / Nicola Groves - 83.00
9. DEN Lin Ea Cenholt Christiansen / Christian Peter Lübeck - 107.00
10. ARU Nicole van der Velden / Thijs Visser - 121.00
Photo : Yvan Zedda/Groupama