Back in November 2009, Groupama announced that their 12 year long partnership with Franck Cammas would include the Volvo Ocean Race.
Last week in Eric Tabarly’s Cité de la Voile, Groupama revealed more reasons behind their commitment to the next two editions of the VOR. In short, the race is an excellent opportunity for the European insurance and banking group to display its international ambition and for Franck Cammas and his team to vie with the top Anglo-Saxon crews.
Frédérique Granado, Groupama’s director of external communications commented last week:
“When we committed ourselves to supporting Franck Cammas back in 1998, he was a young sports entrepreneur, who was just discovering the multihull scene. Twelve years on, he has won virtually all the crewed races and racked up no less than six records, including the legendary Jules Verne Trophy on 20th March 2010. By confirming our commitment to the next two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race, namely until 2015, we are supporting the Group’s international development, which makes 30% of its turnover overseas and employs over 11,000 employees outside France. Groupama is today identified as the leading vessel owner in French sailing. With the Volvo Ocean Race, this presence will further develop overseas.”
The Groupama team, headed by Franck Cammas is made up of 45 people and despite the team’s roots it is fairly commonplace to hear English spoken or perhaps French with a slightly exotic accent:
“The challenge we’ve committed ourselves to is a sizeable one. Since 1993 and Eric Tabarly, not a single French team has participated in the Volvo Ocean Race. Up against the top crews from New Zealand, America, Spain and Ireland, it’s going to be an intense battle. We’re just rediscovering the monohull and we still have a lot to learn. However, we’re going about it with as much enthusiasm, seriousness and humility as possible. Thanks to Groupama’s commitment, we were the first to put our team together. Making up my entourage are Volvo specialists like Damian Foxall, Ben Wright, Luc Gellusseau, Hervé Le Quilliec as well as Killian Bush, who are joining together with various long-term stalwarts of the Groupama Team like Stéphane Guilbaud, Pierre Tissier, Loïc Dorez, Yann Riou and Olivier Mainguy.”
With the purchase of Ericsson 4, winner of the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, Groupama Team can boast an excellent platform for training and analysis. Rechristened Groupama 70, the Koujoumdjian design is performing an increasing number of sail trials offshore of Lorient in Brittany, where the Team is based.
When the team aren’t out sailing, the various members of the Team are participating in the design of the future boat, it too due to be designed by the Franco-Argentine architect:
‘Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to involve the excellent French architects in the work, as they are also only just discovering the restrictions of the class measurement linked to these 70 foot (21.5 metres long) boats. As such we opted for Juan Koujoumdjian, who is based in Valencia, Spain. However, it’s actually in nearby Vannes, at the Multiplast yard, that Groupama 4 will be built. This will represent 40,000 man hours and we know the team well because we built the maxi trimaran Groupama 3 with them.’
The new boat will be built by Multiplast, the company that built the Groupama III maxi trimaran in 2005-2006. The Groupama Team has renewed its confidence in Multiplast and entrusted the yard with the production of this monohull, based on the plans by Juan Yacht Design.
Yann Penfornis, General Manager of Multiplast said:
“This new order is wonderful recognition of our know-how. We are all the more proud in that the team in question is particularly demanding of themselves, and also of any of the partners involved in the project. For us, this boat will be an opportunity to compare our work with that of the large foreign teams, who have dominated this discipline for many years.”
Pierre Tissier, Construction Manager for Team Groupama said about the close collaboration with the boat-builder:
“We have been working with Multiplast for several years, we know each other very well and we communicate openly. We know that we can trust them again to build a reliable, high-performance boat.”
Dominique Dubois, President of Multiplast commented about the strict measurement rules :
“This new boat must be a marvel. In addition, we have had to make new investments, such as an anti-dust paint for the flooring and new curing ovens to guarantee that Groupama will benefit from a new quality close to the demands of the aeronautical or space industry. This is another new step taken by the Multiplast boatyard with regards to quality control. Our experience in the production of parts for the aeronautical industry will be useful to us to take on this new challenge.”