Groupama 4 completes the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 2,023 mile qualifier course at an average speed of 15.5 knots
“We encountered all the necessary weather conditions to make this a good qualifier. We left Lorient close-hauled in breezy conditions as far as Cape Finisterre. The descent of Portugal involved a reach and then we encountered upwind conditions, a windless zone and more reaching as we made towards the Azores. Finally, during the last 800 miles, we enjoyed some downwind conditions in 30 knots of breeze! A sheer delight!” explained Phil Harmer, trimmer/ helmsman on Groupama 4.
Testing with a view to optimising Franck Cammas, skipper of Groupama 4, was keen to experience a variety of points of sail during this session on the water so as to test the new monohull in all manner of conditions.
“Heading offshore for several days enables us to really get the boat and the crew into race configuration. We now know a bit more about how Groupama 4 performs and her limitations. We managed to rack up increasingly high average speeds, proving that we’d found the right trim, positioning and balance for the boat.’ Indeed it’s worth noting that the Volvo Open 70 reached speeds bordering on 30 knots in downwind conditions of 32 knots!
“The crew is gaining in confidence with the boat. Even though we encountered some technical issues linked to the recent installation of certain systems, we always remained focused on performance.”
Damian Foxall, crew manager and helmsman aboard Groupama 4 backs up this sentiment. “We have a very good boat which is quick. All the work done on the sails and the layout is a success. As regards the crew, that works in the main as we’ve been sailing together for over a year. We’re beginning to get to know each other well and the communication onboard is becoming natural.”
Bruno Jeanjean, bowman aboard Groupama 3, who came along for the ride to discover the bowman’s role aboard Groupama 4 in case a stand-in is needed during the Volvo Ocean Race commented: “Making the transition from a three-footed beast to a monohull from the Volvo Ocean Race is an exercise I’d describe as being a lot wetter. The foredeck is more exposed than on the trimarans. You’d almost need a mask and snorkel to do the job on this boat.”
Now qualified, Groupama 4 will take part in some inshore training in Lorient in early July. The boat will then be lifted out and put in the yard for a refit until the end of July. The crew will make the most of the time on the hard to optimise the monohull and put her through some more scrutineering before she’s relaunched in early August.