Groupama 34, season 1: "First tack about"

In Lorient, Groupama sailing team's port of registry, the pontoons are gradually becoming livelier. 
Whilst certain maxi-multihulls are preparing to change colour after a change of hands, one little monohull has put in an appearance. 
On deck, Erwan Israël, Christophe André and Guillaume Le Tuaud are busying themselves whilst, at the mast, Tanguy Cariou is carefully positioning the decametre to ensure that Groupama 34 conforms to the one-design class' measurement rule.
A stone's throw from there, in Groupama sailing team's base, Franck Cammas is taking part in a videoconference with Martin Fisher, who lives in New Caledonia. Alongside the Groupama skipper are naval architect Guillaume Verdier and members of the in-house design team under Loïc Dorez' leadership. Suffice to say that there's some serious reflection going on about the future C-Class, which will be taking part in the series' World Championship in Falmouth this September.
The Groupama skipper, who's just completed a weekend of Match Racing in La Rochelle, only has a limited amount of time before training begins aboard Groupama 34, with a view to the Spi Ouest France and the Tour de France à la Voile. This is why he has entrusted Tanguy Cariou (winner of the Tour de France 2001 with Jean-Pierre Dick), with managing the "M34 dossier". That way, he can focus on the future C-Class and perform sea trials on the one the team bought secondhand, which goes by the name of Alpha and was previously helmed by a certain James Spithill.
For his part, Tanguy Cariou is back amongst a team he's very familiar with from his role as tactician aboard the first Groupama trimaran. Despite a hint of white in his beard, Groupama 34's project manager is as passionate as ever about sailing and gives us the lowdown on this latest craft:

  • The M34: "Half the size of Groupama 4, the M34 is helmed by a crew of 7 to 8 people, whose total weight mustn't exceed 624kg. We have much fewer sails than on a Volvo boat, but it's still pretty physical as we're very exposed and it's also highly technical". 
  • The crew: "On the Tour de France à la Voile, which is our main focus, at least twelve crew members will have to have sailed. As such there will be a number of rotations. Among them will be five crew who won the Volvo on Groupama 4, whilst the others come from the domains of Match Racing, multihull, Figaro and Olympic sailing. We've selected crew who are versatile and know how to adapt. We've also taken their personalities into account as the M34 is a small boat and living together for a whole month can be difficult".
  • The race programme: "We're kicking off with the very popular Spi Ouest France and then we're participating in every one of the class' races: The Grand Prix de Douarnenez, the Grand Prix de l'Ecole Navale and Normandy sailing week. This programme should enable us to take the start of the Tour de France à la Voile in fine fettle on a technical level, in a group which know each other very well".
  • The training: "We're going to alternate between Lorient and the ENV in Quiberon for over twenty days of training prior to the Spi Ouest France. That will enable us to sail on a variety of race zones, as well as work on the offshore courses in partnership with Daniel Souben's team on Courrier Dunkerque".
  • The Tour: "The Tour de France is a kind of mini Volvo with a mixture of technical courses and offshore courses. However, instead of going around the world, we'll be going around France. That doesn't mean it will be easy though. We'll need to know how to pebble hop and perform well throughout the month as we vie with some very good teams".
The crew: Franck Cammas, Erwan Israël, Charles Caudrelier, Sébastien Marsset, Yann Riou, Tanguy Cariou, Devan Le Bihan, Arnaud Jarlegan, Julien Villon, Louis Viat, Stéphane Guilbaud, Maxime Paul and Christophe André.

The 2013 race programme:

  • From 29 March to 1 April: Spi Ouest France in La Trinité sur Mer
  • From 3 to 6 May: Grand Prix Guyader in Douarnenez
  • From 8 to 13 May: Grand Prix de l'Ecole Navale in Lanvéoc Poulmic
  • From 4 to 9 June: Normandy Sailing Week in Le Havre
  • From 28 June to 28 July: Tour de France à la Voile from Dunkerque to Marseille
Groupama 34, season 1: "First tack about"  Groupama 34, season 1: "First tack about" Reviewed by Panos Douros on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 Rating: 5

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