Not long back from his solo round-the-world record attempt, Coville will join Franck Cammas on board Groupama 4

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By accepting Franck Cammas’ invitation to climb aboard Groupama 4, having barely set foot back on land after an outstanding solo round the world aboard his 32 metre maxi trimaran, Thomas Coville is committing to a fourth circumnavigation of the globe in four years.
In 2010, the sailor from La Trinité sur Mer joined Franck Cammas on the maxi trimaran Groupama 3 in a bid to conquer the Jules Verne Trophy, which they did with a record in a time of 48 days, 7 hours on 20 March 2010.
This year it’s aboard Groupama 4, a 70 foot monohull (21.5 metres), that Franck and Thomas will do battle with the top international crews: “Franck called me three days before I completed my circumnavigation. Solo sailing features a wealth of introspection but it leaves you mentally drained. In crewed configuration though, when you’re open to the group, you feed off them and you learn a great deal. Before even crossing the finish line off Ushant, I was already keen to say yes because I’ve dreamt about the Volvo Ocean Race since I was sixteen year of ages. It’s one of the most fascinating races for me.”
Coville continued: “In this crewed round the world race, there’s never been such an accomplished project in France, and even overseas, with this culture, this accumulation of experience from the people Franck has brought together. To be perfectly honest, it’s not just an attractive prospect, I’m also incredibly grateful to have been asked to do it by a team like Groupama and by Franck Cammas in particular. There’s a small element of pride mixed in all that but is it the kind of offer you can afford to refuse when you’re an athlete?”
At 43 and already with eight Cape Horn roundings to his credit, Thomas Coville is an extremely qualified sailor who has competed in the Mini Transat 6.50, the Solitaire du Figaro, the Admiral’s Cup, the America’s Cup, the Route du Rhum, The Transat and the Vendée Globe. This will be his seventh circumnavigation of the globe (including three with Sodebo), the second aboard a monohull and the fourth as part of a crew.
Skipper of Groupama, Franck Cammas commented : “Thomas is an excellent sailor who never gives up. His recent solo round the world attempt with Sodebo is evidence of that. He is completely familiar with the open sea, life aboard this type of boat and the weather conditions we’ll encounter. His Anglo-Saxon culture will also be very useful within our crew, which is made up of five nationalities. Furthermore, we’ve got to know each other well from the Jules Verne Trophy. As such I’m not heading into the unknown by calling upon his services.”
Watch leader and hydraulics manager on Groupama 4, Thomas Coville has no intention of leaving Sodebo, with whom he’s been sailing for twelve years: “Today I’m the skipper of Sodebo, I’ll remain so and I’ll take up the helm of Sodebo again after the Volvo Ocean Race. For me this round the world aboard Groupama 4 is an essential digression in human and technical terms when you want to make progress and perform well. This decision to join Groupama Sailing Team has been constructed with Sodebo. It’s also about the meeting of two partners who share the same vision of the sport and who respect the people they’re working with. Sodebo has understood that the experience I stand to gain with Groupama will be of use to them. I am incredibly lucky to have a partner who respects my sporting career and who knows that it’s over the long term that gains are made. Groupama is an atypical insurer which shares the same mindset” explained Coville.

Split into nine stages, the 11th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race is raced aboard 70 foot monohulls (21.5m) driven by 11 person crews. Setting out from Alicante in Spain on 5 November 2011, the six participants will make a stopover in Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya (China), Auckland, Itajaï (Brazil), Miami, Lisbon and Lorient, before finishing in Galway on 7 July 2012.

Participating crews are:
1. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand – Chris Nicholson (NZ)
2. Puma Ocean Racing – Ken Read (USA)
3. Team Telefonica – Pedro Campos (SPA))
4. Spanish Team (SPA)
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team – Ian Walker (EUA)
6. Groupama Sailing Team – Franck Cammas (FRA)

Groupama 4 will be made up of 11 from the following:
Franck Cammas
Thomas Coville
Damian Foxall (IRL)
Jean-Luc Nélias
Charles Caudrelier
Magnus Woxen (SWE)
Philip Harmer (AUS)
Martin Stromberg (SWE)
Martin Krite (SWE)
Brad Marsh (NZ)
Sébastien Marsset
Erwan Israël
Yann Riou
Jacques Caraës