[Source: Groupama sailing team] This September, Groupama C will defend her Little America’s Cup title, secured in Falmouth back in September 2013, just as the Americans on Oracle were putting the finishing touches to a fantastic comeback to snatch the oldest sporting trophy to the detriment of the New Zealanders. Passionate about sailing and about flying boats, Groupama sailing team is preparing for this clash with precision and determination.
In September 2013, a number of key figures from the teams involved in the America’s Cup made the trip to Falmouth to gauge the state of play with regards to the development of the C-Class, a flying catamaran that has boasted a fixed wing since the sixties. A genuine laboratory both aerodynamically and hydrodynamically, this class had been the prerogative of the Anglo-Saxons since the start. That is until Franck Cammas and his Groupama team decided to take an interest so as to develop their expertise on the subject.
Up against the French team, the Swiss contingent headed by Jérémie Lagarrigue on Hydros wasn’t among the favourites during a final that saw the top two boats from the fleet races pitted against each other. Despite having two identical boats designed by naval architect Marc Lombard and numerous months of fine-tuning, the Swiss crew of Besson and Lagarrigue got beaten by the Cammas – Viat pairing aboard the faster, more stable Groupama C, that really excelled to windward.
Boosted by this first master stroke, the Groupama skipper was duty bound to grant a revenge match to the Swiss team, who will host the 27th edition of the event which now goes by the name of The Little Cup and will be held in Geneva from 12 to 19 September 2015.
In order to defend their trophy in the best possible conditions, Groupama sailing team and its design office have been putting in the hours: “We’ve identified two main points of evolution: the ergonomics and the aerodynamics of the trampoline and also the appendages, namely the foils and the rudders,” explains Louis Viat, Franck Cammas’ crew and also team manager since Stéphane Guilbaud’s departure.
Dividing his time on the water with either Franck or Julien Villion at the helm off the team’s Lorient base, Louis is well placed to judge how things are progressing: “The work on the trampoline was aimed at simplifying manoeuvring so as to exploit the full potential of the boat. We’ve also streamlined the systems and made some aerodynamic gains,” adds Louis.
Another area of development is the appendages: “We’ve kept the port foil from 2013 and we’ve designed a new starboard foil in-house. We’re happy with how it feels, but that’s not enough for us. Groupama C is brimming with sensors, which should enable us to develop a significant analysis procedure from the data collected. We’re sailing in 2-minute phases, modifying one element each time. Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t been in our favour, serving up conditions that are often too boisterous for this type of machine, continues the team manager, and we’re lacking perspective too. We’ve also designed two new foiling rudders, but I can’t tell you any more about this particular subject. It’s top secret”.
This secret is something the eight people that make up the Lorient-based team will be taking care not to disclose, given that this Little America’s Cup is one of Franck Cammas’ primary objectives with a view to the America’s Cup. As such the programme for sailing, collecting and analysing data is set to continue for the next two months, before the 2015 race programme gets the upper hand.