Tag Archive | "Groupama Sailing Team"

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Grand Prix Guyader: Groupama 34 wins!

Posted on 12 May 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Groupama Sailing Team] After competing in seven races over four days in Douarnenez, Brittany, in what proved to be some lively weather conditions, Franck Cammas and his Groupama crew secured victory in the second event of the M34 season, ahead of Courrier Dunkerque and Bretagne Crédit Mutuel. It’s an important win in the run-up to Normandy Sailing Week in June, which will be final dress rehearsal before the legendary Tour de France à la Voile.

Second in the Spi Ouest France behind Courrier Dunkerque, Groupama 34 has made the most of the fine race zone in Douarnenez to gain the upper hand in relation to Daniel Souben’s crew, which are Groupama sailing team’s sparring partner and also their main rival: « On reading the ranking, you might think that we took an easy win. That wasn’t the case at all though » explains Devan Le Bihan, trimmer aboard Groupama 34. « The races were hard-fought and, with the exception of the offshore race that we led from beginning to end, we often had to really battle to secure a win. The uniformity of the fleet bodes well for a great Tour de France later this year» Devan adds.

Dominating the whole of the last season, the crew of Groupama 34 is preparing for a more hotly contested race season in 2014. « Some of the class measurement rules have changed. Furthermore, the sails that we’ll have during Normandy Sailing Week and onwards will be strictly one-design. The upshot of this is that the speed differences between the boats will be limited. As such we’ll have to be very precise with our manoeuvring and tactically shrewd to take the win » concludes the crewman aboard Groupama 34.

Back in the series for the first time since the Tour de France 2013, it is clear that the skipper of Groupama hasn’t needed much time to readapt to the M34: « Franck is really impressive in the way he handles the boat. During the night race, despite the darkness, the waves and the strong breeze, he helmed the boat to perfection. You can see that he’s a true expert » comments Malo Bessec, who shares the position of bowman with Christophe André.

All that remains now is to lift the boats out and load them onto the trailers and then prepare to hit the road to Le Havre, which is where Normandy Sailing Week will be held this coming June. In the meantime, Franck Cammas will be participating in the Medemblick sailing week aboard the Nacra 17 within the context of his Olympic preparation. He will also spend some time trialling the flying catamaran Groupama C, winner of the Little America’s Cup back in September.

Overall ranking for the Grand Prix Guyader
1/ Groupama 34 with 12 points
2/ Courrier Dunkerque with 18 points
3/ Omansail with 30 points
4/ Bretagne Crédit Mutuel with 30 points
5/ Toulon Provence Méditerranée with 48 points
6/ Nantes St Nazaire with 57 points

The crew of Groupama 34
1. Franck Cammas, skipper and helmsman
2. Fabien Henry, Project manager and tactics
3. Devan Le Bihan, headsail trimmer
4. Matthieu di Russo, headsail trimmer
5. Christophe André, bowman
6. Tugdual Becquemie, helmsman
7. Julien Villion, navigator
8. Arnaud Jarlégan, headsail trimmer
9. Malo Bessec, bowman
10. Maxime Paul, mainsail trimmer

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Photo gallery: Day 2 of Extreme Sailing Series Singapore

Posted on 21 February 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Event photographer Mark Lloyd produced a set of stunning photos during the second day of the Extreme Sailing Series event in Singapore. It was truly hard to limit the selection to a few ones

Racing action on the second day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action on the second day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action on the second day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action on the second day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action on the second day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action on the second day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action on the second day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action on the second day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action on the second day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Singapore, 21 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

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Photo gallery: Day 1 of Extreme Sailing Series Singapore

Posted on 20 February 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Spectacular shots from the opening day of the first event of what is most probably the premiere sailing circuit this year

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Racing action from the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

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Realstone throw down the gauntlet on Extreme Sailing Series 2014 opening day

Posted on 20 February 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Extreme Sailing Series] The much-anticipated opening Act of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series™ began today in Singapore under the gaze of the cities soaring skyscrapers, where eight races produced six different winners. The Swiss flagged Realtstone were the form team, executing a consistent strategy in the trying conditions, to finish the opening day of the global tour top of the leaderboard – their best result since joining the circuit last year. Some of the newer teams struggled to get to grips with the stadium racecourse, posting a mixed bag of results and a crash between defending champions The Wave, Muscat and GAC Pindar will leave the Aussies with a night of repairs ahead.

Realstone, who after yesterday’s practice racing described themselves as ‘the underdogs’ played a low risk game, setting up for manouvres and executing them precisely to give themselves some breathing space on the packed racecourse. Skipper Jerome Clerc “We rotated the team a lot in 2013 to finally be in a position to chose the best people for the best positions and get here with an optimal configuration. We have sailed well with good starts, Arnaud made the boat go fast and we have followed simple schemes with starts on the same side and regular tacks in each leg. We noticed this worked out well so we have kept this strategy. It’s the first day, all the teams are warming up so we are still the outsiders!”

Realstone leads on the opening day of Act 1 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Eight races were sailed – the first of up to 250 this year – and in the continually shifting breeze, which ranged from 4-10 knots with slightly bigger gusts, the teams tacticians had it all on. Groupama sailing team’s skipper Franck Cammas – who won the seventh race of the day, only to follow it up with a last place – explained how tough the conditions were. “We have had more wind than expected so it was pretty hairy on the water. The wind flows in between the buildings and it all becomes very shifty. We had to take what we could. The teams who started well were not necessarily the teams who finished at the top. The key, in short, is a mix of a little bit of luck, be at the good spot, try to anticipate things and being opportunist.” The French team finish the day tied on points with second placed Alinghi.

On such a compact course, and with such short, intense races, the mark roundings were nail bitingly close, and those on shore found themselves holding their breathe as the Extreme 40s seemingly created space where there was none. In the sixth race of the day, The Wave, Muscat and GAC Pindar found out just how tight the course is, when the Omani boat t-boned into the back of the Aussies in a port-starboard incident, leaving a significant hole in their boat and the team with a night of repairs ahead in the pitlane, as Leigh McMillan explained: “GAC Pindar put in a tack, and at the last minute they looked like they weren’t going to avoid us. I tried to smash it into a tack but there wasn’t anywhere to go – plus I lost grip of the tiller and tripped over, and unfortunately went into them. We’ve had plenty of bad days and we will have to go back, look at the videos and take some lessons out of today and come back stronger tomorrow.”

Ben Ainslie makes his debut in the Extreme Sailing Series. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Many of the fleet struggled for consistency today, and none more so than newcomers Emirates Team New Zealand and J.P. Morgan BAR, who finished the day with two race wins a piece – but also a handful of last places. Olympic champion Ben Ainslie commented: “We’re all having to learn pretty quickly, and certainly in this tight venue – even for the experienced guys it’s pretty tough. It’s a really strong fleet, it’s one of the toughest fields we’ve ever had and we’re obviously very new to this so we really learnt a lot today.”

There is little light on the leaderboard after day one, with just 18 points separating first placed Realstone from eighth placed Oman Air. The Wave, Muscat, Gazprom Team Russia, GAC Pindar and the local boat Team Aberdeen Singapore have a bit of catching up to do – and with up to 24 races still to come, there is plenty of opportunity to do it.
Marina Bay Reservoir will provide a temporary residence for the 12 Extreme 40s for the next three days of Stadium Racing, and if today’s racing is anything to go by, Act 1 with the support of Local Event main partner Aberdeen Asset Management, could be anyone’s game.

Jeve Sarvin makes his debut in the Extreme Sailing Series at the helm of GAC Pindar. Singapore, 20 February 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Extreme Sailing Series 2014 Act 1, Singapore standings after Day 1, 8 races (20.02.14)
1st Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Thierry Wassem, Nils Palmieri 56 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 48 points.
3rd Groupama Sailing Team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Sophie de Turckheim, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 48 points.
4th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker, Glenn Ashby, James Dagg, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 46 points.
5th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Pippa Wilson, Matt Cornwell 44 points.
6th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Nick Blackman, Haylee Outteridge 43 points.
7th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Peter Wibroe, Nicolai Sehested 39 points.
8th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Tom Johnson, Will Howden, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 38 points.
9th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 29 points.
10th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Paul Campbell-James, Alister Richardson, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 28 points.
11th GAC Pindar (AUS) Seve Jarvin, Troy Tindill, Ed Smyth, Sam Newton, Alexandra South 20 points.
12th Team Aberdeen Singapore (SIN) Nick Moloney, Adam Beashel, Scott Glen Sydney, Tom Dawson, Justin Wong 17 points.

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Video: Groupama C and Franck Cammas take off

Posted on 14 August 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Franck Cammas - Groupama] The programme for this second sea trial was coloured by around a dozen knots of breeze and a fine chop. The main evolutions consist of rudders with a lifting surface and a flying starboard foil contrasting with a port foil, which remains classic.

Between the island of Groix and Lorient, Groupama C made in excess of 27 knots of boat speed: “the boat’s very sound and really quick. Beyond the pure navigation, we’re now working on the deck layout so as to make it as ergonomic as possible. It’s all about tinkering now, but the details will be important in enabling us to make the most of her true potential,” Louis Viat admits.

Suffice to say that there’s no shortage of work for Groupama Sailing team both on land and on the water, with their rib constantly on the water to follow the catamaran and record her performances.

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Groupama win the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race

Posted on 03 July 2012 by Valencia Sailing

Groupama win the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race

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The consecration: Groupama wins the Volvo Ocean Race

Posted on 03 July 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Groupama Sailing Team] As ever, there was still everything to play for on this ninth and penultimate race between Brittany and Ireland! And as ever, or almost, the expected scenario of a long straight course in a stable breeze wasn’t quite how things panned out in the end. Indeed, as is frequently the case, it was over the final miles that everything changed. And, as is rarely the case, and for the first time since 1986, a French boat has come to the fore in what is the longest and most gruelling of oceanic races after 40,000 miles at sea and nearly nine months on from the race start in Alicante back in November… By finishing just astern of the New Zealanders in Galway on this final offshore leg, Franck Cammas and his men can at last wrap their hands around the Holy Grail of offshore racing, a Volvo Ocean Race win, before Saturday’s In-Port race has even played out.

The puma and the mice

This ninth leg between Lorient and Galway always promised to be a close-fought race since the 550-mile course was framed by the compulsory passages around Belle-Île, the North-West tip of Brittany, the Fastnet Rock lighthouse and the Aran Islands. Indeed the separation between the top four, never exceeded four miles, as they constantly jostled over the top spot according to the (numerous) manoeuvres which had to be performed to adapt to the irregular strength of the breeze. The Spanish led the way as far as Raz de Sein, then the New Zealanders snatched control before being overtaken by the Iberians, then the Americans, as they rounded Fastnet with Groupama 4 permanently on the attack.

As the wind clocked round from 20-25 knots of south-westerly to around fifteen knots of westerly along the Irish coast, things were continually being ramped up again, but after the Blasket Islands, Puma really looked like she had the win in the bag with a lead of a mile and half over Camper and Telefonica. Franck Cammas and his men remained in contact by positioning themselves slightly offshore. However, fifty miles from the finish, it was time to think about gybing in around a dozen knots of breeze, which was backing round to the South: Groupama 4 was the first to launch into the manoeuvre, followed by Camper, whilst the Americans and the Spanish delayed in changing course…

Despite the initial setbacks, Franck Cammas and his crew clearly showed they were the masters of the oceans. Galway, 3 July 2012. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean Race

An incredible welcome!

Just as night fell the four leaders made the approach on the Aran Islands beneath the loom of the Eoragh lighthouse: the New Zealanders had a mere 500-metre lead over the French, who themselves were under pressure from the Americans, just 400 metres astern, whilst the Spanish had dropped off the pace slightly, a mile back. As for the other two VOR-70s, Sanya and Abu Dhabi, they were some 35 miles stray of the leaders… A fourth place would have been sufficient for Groupama 4 to secure outright victory in the Volvo Ocean Race, but the French crew didn’t want to ease off the pace one iota in their bid to round things off on as positive a note as their last efforts in Lorient and Lisbon.

However, the Kiwis had a firm grip on the head of this race and they took the win in their first offshore leg since leaving Alicante to finish in a time of 00h 42′ UTC and take the applause of an absolutely incredible crowd! Thousands of Irish supporters enveloped the Galway basin with extraordinary enthusiasm, which reached fever point when the French boat tied up alongside, congratulating the first Irish winner of the Volvo Ocean Race: Damian Foxall, watch leader on Groupama 4!

With this second place ahead of the Americans and the Spanish, Franck Cammas and his crew are assured of outright victory in the overall standing, even before the final `In-Port’ race sets sail this coming Saturday. With a lead of 24 points over Camper, Groupama 4 is now the unassailable, outright winner of the eleventh edition of this crewed round the world race, in what is a first for a French team since victory went to Lionel Péan and his men in 1985-86…

Quotes from the boat

Franck Cammas, skipper of Groupama 4
“To win the Volvo Ocean Race is a very fine challenge when you’re a novice in this format and French to boot! That’s what is motivating and exciting for a team: achieving what nobody expects of you. We weren’t a favourite or even an outsider at the start in Alicante. We were also in an easy position, especially as this first crewed race around the world was about learning the ropes prior to a planned second participation. We were here to discover the scene without any pressure on our shoulders, but to win was a surprise to everyone… despite putting a huge amount of work into the race over the past three years. We entered a tunnel where all we thought about was the race and we didn’t think any further than that: our world may well be a bit empty for a few days after this coming weekend. However, after a victory such as this, we’ll have many great memories and such trust in our way of working and in our strategy that we can cast our minds forward to lots of other challenges. This is an epic dream, which has come true today and I can honestly say that I didn’t think we would win on our first attempt! We’ve become a good crew over the miles. Initially we thought that the Spanish were going to walk away with the race win but we knew that it was still very close between four boats, who all had a chance of winning. It’s been an extraordinary race as there have never been so many uncertainties in a round the world race. And we’d still very much like to win the last In-Port in Galway on Saturday, just as a thank you to Thierry Péponnet, who told us to finish in front in the short races: we need to round things off in style! We’re very happy to be able to compete in the last race without any pressure on our shoulders…”

Charles Caudrelier, navigator on Groupama 4
“This final offshore leg was like a leg of the Solitaire du Figaro, except that it would take you four days in a Figaro! We had lost a bit of the sense of what this was: we found it a little hard to get into the real swing of things and we must have slept more than the others. We could see that they were all constantly out on the rail and we also knew that the outcome of this race was going to be decided at the finish and we wanted to remain rested and calm. As such we were a bit surprised that the other crews didn’t launch into their final gybe at the same time as us: it was important to head for shore! That decision cost the Americans dearly. We wanted to win this race… To show that there is the know-how in France. We knew that Groupama 4 was a very fine boat, thanks to Franck and his design team, and we saw that we were a notch higher in terms of the crew. We didn’t wonder too much about the whys and wherefores and we just worked hard, especially in the close-contact races. In fact, we’re second in the In-Port standing alone, just one point shy of the top spot! We won the race in Lorient by crushing Puma: ultimately the inshores carried a lot of weight in the hierarchy.”

Thomas Coville, watch leader on Groupama 4
“When I participated in the Volvo Ocean Race with Knut Frostad, I was like a `worker in the entertainment industry”, as I only sailed on a few legs. This time, I had a title and that changes everything! Your presence is there to serve a group, a leader, and over the nine months spent working together, the team builds in strength to reach a stage where victory is achievable. At the start, you don’t know if it’s going to work: there are so many parameters to take into account. And today, we’ve secured a win with a 24-point lead: which is no small matter! However, we still want to win the final race on Saturday for Thierry Péponnet, who was doubtless one of the key links in our ability to build up our mental strength. Indeed the preparation that went into the In-Port races largely exceeded the scope of this format: we applied his method and his advice to the offshore legs and that paid off!”

Thierry Martel, CEO of the Groupama Group
“We are very proud of this exceptional victory which represents a great deal to Groupama today. However, above all else it’s a great sense of pride for all the Group’s 50,000 representatives and 38,500 colleagues after all the work accomplished by the teams, both at sea and on shore. Indeed it is representative of the tenacity, the faith in an ambitious objective and the ability to rally together and motivate a team, whatever unknown factors come their way. It is also extremely symbolic in the period we’re going through right now, which further adds to the beauty of this win. Thank you to Franck, to his crew and to all the teams onshore for having written a new and fantastic chapter in the history we’ve been building together for what is now some 15 years.”

Arrivals in Galway (UTC)
1-Camper (Chris Nicholson) Tuesday 3 July at 00h 42′ 13 in 1d 13h 40′ 13
2-Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas) 00h 49′ 11
3-Puma (Ken Read) 00h 55′ 01
4-Telefonica (Iker Martinez) 00h 59′ 33
5-Sanya (Mike Sanderson) 03h 14′ 27
6-Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker) 03h 23′ 29

(Provisional) overall standing after nine oceanic legs and nine In-Port race
1-Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas) : 2+20+2+18+5+24+2+30+4+20+6+20+5+25+6+30+6+25 = 250 points
2-Camper (Chris Nicholson) : 4+25+5+24+4+18+3+15+6+15+5+25+3+10+4+25+5+30 = 226 points
3-Puma (Ken Read) : 5+0+4+19+3+17+5+25+5+30+4+30+4+20+5+20+4+20 = 220 points
4-Telefonica (Iker Martinez) : 1+30+6+29+2+27+6+20+1+25+2+15+1+15+1+10+3+15 = 209 points
5-Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker) : 6+0+3+10+6+14+4+10+2+0+3+10+6+30+3+15+2+5 = 129 points
6-Sanya (Mike Sanderson) : 3+0+1+5+2+5+1+5+3+0+0+0+2+5+2+5+1+10 = 50 points

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Juan Kouyoumdjian talks to VSail.info about the Volvo Ocean Race (Part II)

Posted on 02 July 2012 by Valencia Sailing

We continue our talk with Juan Kouyoumdjian, soon to become a three-time Volvo Ocean Race winner, focusing on the current VO70 yachts, their limits and the breakages they suffered in the current Volvo Ocean Race. Last but not least, we close our discussion by briefly touching on the issue of the America’s Cup and the breakage of the Artemis AC72 wing in Valencia [Click here to read the first installment of this extremely interesting interview]:

VSail.info: I think we covered the issue of the future one-design boat exhaustively. Let’s now switch our focus to the current race and the current boats. The entire fleet, with no exception, suffered severe breakages throughout the race, raising concerns about their seaworthiness. Do you agree that they have been designed too close to the edge, compromising seaworthiness for speed?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: I disagree with that although it all depends on your definition of the word “severe”. None of the boats we designed had to stop racing because of any damage. The most serious issue was on Telefonica that stopped for more or less 12 hours and I wouldn’t call that severe since she could have continued as she was although at slower pace.

VSail.info: Correct me if I’m wrong but both Puma and Groupama dismasted, forcing them to either retire from a leg or stop for a few days in order to make the necessary repairs. Wouldn’t you call that “severe”?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: We didn’t design the rigging on these two boats. However, what seems a little bit worrisome, at least to me, about this race, especially because it’s a very important race for all of us, is that this notion of reducing budgets is not new. Actually, budgets were reduced in this edition but this didn’t bring more teams. If we want to focus too much on the teams that want to spend less what will happen to the teams that don’t? There are such teams and, actually, there is a team that isn’t doing this race because precisely they were not specifically budget driven.

VSail.info: I don’t understand. Are you saying that a potential team didn’t enter the current Volvo Ocean Race edition because they wanted to spend more money?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes, it was Ericsson. What they basically said was “We want to re-enter the race but we want to do it with our philosophy, which means two boats, two-boat testing, development and involvement from our part”. Knut Frostad’s reply was “No way, I’m not going to allow it” and Ericsson decided not to go ahead. At that time there was a notion of budget limit but that proposal was then withdrawn. There are teams that are not directly driven by budget.

Barring any last-minute disasters, Groupama will give Juan Kouyoumdjian his third consecutive victory in the Volvo Ocean Race. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean Race

VSail.info: You might be right but then it’s the old “existential” question in sailing. Do we want an America’s Cup or a Volvo Ocean Race with three or with eight-ten teams?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: You seem to think that smaller budgets will bring more teams. That’s the way it was presented and this is the bet Frostad himself decided to carry out. I wish him all the luck but it’s not going to work. If the intention was to drastically reduce budgets Knut Frostad should have done better than just 65 feet.

VSail.info: It is still possible that all three of your designs get the three overall podium spots of this race. As a result, I guess you have done many things well. Is there an area where you think you committed errors though? In hindsight what would you have done differently?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: You always learn and progress, every time you do something. I think that the day we think we can’t do anything better, we should close the doors of this office and go do something different. If you want, I could give you a list and there are plenty of things that we should have kept a bigger eye on. If this continues, I think that making very specific cases on quality control and making sure that some pieces on the boat are built the way they were designed; this is very important. If I can make a suggestion to the people that will be involved with the new one-design it would be exactly that.

Even in a one-design there will be rudders that will be built differently, resulting in breakages. That will bring again the issue of responsibility. What happens if Team A breaks a rudder and Team B, with the exact same rudder and under the same weather conditions, doesn’t break it?

VSail.info: You will never have the exact same weather conditions. At some stages, the boats are hundreds of miles apart from each other.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: The other day, Groupama and Telefonica were within meters of each other. One boat broke two rudders and the other one didn’t.

VSail.info: What caused the two broken rudders on Telefonica?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: It is currently being investigated and I don’t think I should get into that right now. There is a pending investigation and we can talk about that some other time.

There is a very important issue here though. You talk about seaworthiness but it’s not about the boat alone. It also concerns the group of people that sail her. While it might be good to try to reduce costs and lower the entry level for the teams, we should always be aware that these boats will sail around the world, achieving great speeds. They will need to have a very professional and highly prepared group of people onboard, which he have in this edition and the previous one. Imagine now the situation where the bar is dropped too low and you have teams that are not prepared in terms of not having enough time on the water, not enough budget, not enough controls on the boat. It’s the debate of quantity over quality.

VSail.info: Let’s assume there are eight teams next time and with a crew of just eight, the total number of sailors in the race will not be different from what we have in this edition, give or take a few. It’s fair to assume most of the sailors would like to race again, so the pool of available sailors will practically be the same. I think we’ll see lots of familiar faces again.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: However, the last entries will sail their new boat just two months before the start of the race. That team is going to break things. The last team to enter will be the one to have the least trained sailors and I still don’t understand why they keep talking about the breakages. The whole issue is wrongly explained by the experts and by that I mean Knut Frostad, because he did the race himself many times as a sailor. I’m surprised that a person that sailed this race doesn’t explain it to the public.

Let me give you very simple example. Take a rally car, the best rally car, give it to an amateur driver and ask him to race in the Finnish Rally, one of the hardest ones in the world. If he drives at 150km/h, jumps a crest and smashes into a pine how would you react? Would you claim that his car wasn’t safe enough? If he goes through a sequence of chicanes and smashes the car again how would you react? Will you claim again that the car wasn’t strong enough? This isn’t even debated in the rally world. If you jump a series of bumps, doing 150km/h and you break the car’s suspension will you blame Ford or Mitsubishi for that?

This is the point where it becomes a joke. Whoever thinks that because of doing a one-design the breakages will be reduced, is mistaken.

VSail.info: Then in your case, do we have to blame Telefonica’s crew for the breakages?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Not based on what I know today and pending an investigation of their construction, however when we design these boats there is a very clear discussion and exchange to what the limits are on the different aspects of the boat. You are very quickly facing the situation where you can design something to have more resistance or more reliability but this comes with a price that you will carry 99% of the race. So you tell the team “I’ll give you a pair or rudders that for sure there is no speed, no wave on this planet that can break them. Even if 95% of the race you’ll have more weight and more drag, in that 5% of the race that you will need it, it’s not going to break.” I can already give you the answer of 100% of the skippers.

VSail.info: Since you are now involved with both the Artemis Racing multihulls (the ORMA60 trimaran and the AC72 catamaran) could you envision the Volvo Ocean Race being sailed on multihulls?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes, I think so. I think that multihulls, in the world of sailing, are much more efficient than monohulls. The flatter the water is, the bigger the difference in efficiency is but multihulls suffer from sea state and waves much more than monohulls. So, in the case of a round-the-world race you would have to condition the design of the multihulls in a way to withstand these conditions and as such it wouldn’t be as fast a multihull as another high-performance multihull of the same length could be.

VSail.info: I don’t disagree but they would still be faster than the current monohulls.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes, they would still be faster than the current monohulls but the difference lies in the fact that a VO70 is today a very fast 70-footer, probably the fastest 70-footer there is. The fastest 70-foot multihull is probably the AC72 but you can’t race her around the world. The comparison isn’t applicable to multihulls.

VSail.info: Even if you don’t have the fastest 70-foot trimaran it will always be faster than a VO70 and it will allow you to cut the duration of the legs, let’s say from two-three weeks down to 10 days.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Multihulls is definitely a way to do that and it could be a good way of reducing costs as well.

VSail.info: Let’s now talk about the future. What’s in store for JYD after the end of this Volvo Ocean Race?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Our main focus, for sure, will be the America’s Cup. We will have to decide at some point whether we are involved in the next Volvo, even if it’s a one-design race, depending on the rules they establish. Maybe they write a rule which says that Juan Yacht Design cannot be involved. Maybe that makes it even easier for us. It’s sad to see that there is a possibility that we, as a design office, are not involved with the Volvo Ocean Race in the future.

The Volvo Ocean Race made the announcement about the new one-design and they now have to work to make it a reality. Making announcements is the easy part, making it work is the most difficult one. If it works, good luck to them but I still believe they is a big hole for grand prix offshore races.

VSail.info: Will you be involved with the IMOCA60′s?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: We have designed the new Cheminées Poujoulat and we have been offered the possibility to design another one. However, in that class as well they are talking about one-design and as a result we don’t know what the future holds. If the IMOCA60′s don’t go one-design, for sure we will be involved.

VSail.info: If they do decide to go one-design what will the process be? Will they invite bids from various designers? Would you make a proposal if asked?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: I don’t think IMOCA will be one-design because in my opinion one-design is not the way to go in these grand prix offshore races. One-design is not grand prix racing. It’s just a marketing event.

VSail.info: The MOD70′s are another one-design class that pretends to build a niche in offshore racing.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: It’s not grand prix either, it’s just a marketing event. They still haven’t raced and we don’t know whether it will be a successful class or not.

VSail.info: Last but not least, I can’t avoid talking about the Artemis AC72 and the breakage it suffered here in Valencia a few weeks ago. First of all, did your office design it?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Well, the Artemis design team designed the wing and our office is very much embedded in the Artemis design team. What I can tell you is that we learned a lot from that experience. We are certainly applying that knowledge into what we are doing next and I truly don’t think this is going to be the last wing to have issues. We are in a very competitive world and, for the moment, I would to like to keep for myself what we have learned and I don’t want anyone else to benefit from that knowledge.

It is obviously, a setback because we would have liked to have the wing ready right at the moment the Protocol would have allowed us to sail the first AC72 boat. That’s not the case, so we will lose some momentum, we will lose some scheduled times we had originally but that’s how these projects go.

VSail.info: What kind of racing should we expect to see from the AC72′s?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: I think it depends a lot on what the organizers want. If they just want a parade of boats around some buoys for marketing purposes, we will just have that. If they allow enough runway and movement for the boats and crews to express themselves I think it will be very spectacular. Since the Challenger Series and the America’s Cup itself are match races the quantity of teams is almost irrelevant. At the end of the day you just need two teams. As long as you have two, you have an America’s Cup. Whether you have five, ten or twenty challengers at the end you’ll only need two. So if your question was whether a match race race between two AC72′s would be spectacular, I think the chances are it will be very spectacular.

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