New Caledonia Groupama Race 2014 - 3 days 18 hours 54 minutes and 6 seconds - It's great!
Franck Cammas on board "Keel Bill Groupama" finished second in real time in this year's exiting Groupama Race. The New Zealand yacht "Crusader" shattered the race record by 4h 26m to take first place. Third place went to "Mange Mieux Bouge Plus", a Sydney 38. The skipper of "Mange Mieux" is keeping a close eye on his watch - later on this evening he'll know whether he has carried off the handicap trophy too, or not.
In order to snatch back the "best crew" title, "BCI Radical Concept" has to finish before 9:18PM this evening. "The Groupama is a sophisticated race 600 nautical miles long. But, in fact, it is closer to a thousand miles, if you count all the tacking. It is an enormous Olympic course. You start with a run - very nice. The return is on the wind, and in quite difficult conditions this year. It is a well found race that reminds me of some stages of the Figaro Yacht Race, but with much more length" declared Franck Cammas upon his arrival.
The French Yachtsman of the Year and his local crew "made up of very skilled amateurs, some of whom have sailed the Tour de France yacht race" finished 4h 26m behind the winner, Anthony Leighs, on board his Elliot 35 Super Sport. "On the same point of sailing they were a bit faster. And then, they didn't make any mistakes. On the contrary, the second day, they opened up a wide gap. From then on, we were in attacking mode and, despite all our efforts, we weren't able to catch up".
The winner is of the same opinion: "It's a remarkable race, with a 300 nautical mile spinnaker run, wonderful surfing at 23 knots, a long and difficult windward leg along a great barrier reef off golden sand beaches". A flawless race completed by a New Zealand crew that had already taken the 2012 record for the Coastal Classic (Auckland to Russell) by two hours.
The new Groupama Race record to beat is 3d 18h 54m 6s.
For those who are considering entering this race, "Crusader"'s skipper, Anthony Leighs, says "Give it a go! It is a marvellous part of the World, a marvellous race that takes you as far as you can go. We are really happy to hold this record, and we hope to hold it for a long time. But if someone else beats it, I would simply say to him "Well done!".
Tony McKenzie, skipper of "Team Australia Les Nouvelles", holder of the old 2008 record, must have been listening… A few hours after the New Zealand win, he wrote to the race organisation "Congratulations to "Crusader". I'll have to go back one day to sail this wonderful race again to win the record back!"
Ahead on handicap, "Mange Mieux Bouge Plus" crossed the line 10 hours after "Crusader". They are happy to have the third place in real time. "We enjoyed the sailing, and we are pleased with our race, as a crew we are united and combative. Nonetheless, I'll not forget the Grand Passage (passage from East to West in the extreme North of New Caledonia), it's where all the nasty weather goes, freshening winds, backing and veering, line squalls - it's a real mess!" As for the handicap trophy, he doesn't want to talk about it yet. He's waiting for his challenger, "BCI Radical Concept", to finish. "BCI" has to finish before 9:18PM to snatch the trophy away from "Mange Mieux".
Four yachts still have to finish. Around 7PM, "Catch Me OPT", "Chairman PAO Production", and around 10PM for "BCI Radical Concept". "XLR8 Province Sud", labouring under a damaged mains'l, is expected around 2AM tomorrow.
Real Time placings at 5:45PM Nouméa time:
1 Crusader finished in 3d 18h 54m 6s
2 Keel Bill Groupama 3d 23h 49m 5s
3 Mange Mieux Bouge Plus 4d 4h 8m 28s
4 Catch me OPT
5 Chairman PAO Production
6 6CI Radical Concept
7 XLR8 Province Sud
Handicap Placings (putting the best crew first)
1 BCI radical Concept
2 Mange Mieux Bouge Plus
3 Chairman PAO Production
5 XLR8 Province Sud
6 Catch me OPT
"Keel Bill Groupama" is not racing for a handicap place.
Photo : Groupama Race