Groupama team wins International C-Class Catamaran Championship

Published on September 29th, 2013

Falmouth, UK (September 28, 2013) – For the first time in 7 days, Franck Cammas’ Groupama C had a case of ‘the slows’. And for the first time in 7 days, Billy Besson and Jeremie Lagarrigue aboard Hydros II beat Cammas to the starting line and to the top mark.

Their task wasn’t as difficult as it may sound; Cammas and Viat didn’t even launch their boat, preferring to remain ashore in the gusty Easterly breeze. With a 2-0 lead in the Finals of the 2013 International C-Class Catamaran Championship and time running out for Besson, the Swiss team sailed without competitions, foiling upwind on the first leg of the race.

They bore away at the first mark of the 6-leg course, playing it conservatively in 15-18 knots of breeze when disaster struck.

“With Groupama sitting on shore, we made the mistake of perhaps taking it too easy,” explained Lagarrigue. “These boats are not designed to go slow, and when we set up for the gybe we stalled the rudders, and the rest is history.” Lagarrigue said they would probably have been alright were it not for a big gust of wind hitting their massive wing at that moment. “Billy jerked the rudders to get through the stall and broke the tiller, losing control at the most critical time,” said Lagarrigue. Hydros II’s wing pitched over its now-submerged bows in a pitch-pole capsize, destroying most of the wing’s structure and further damaging the steering system while dozens of spectator craft looked on.

The team’s support crews quickly righted the boat, and Besson and Lagarrigue showed the strength of their spirit as they completed four more legs of the course with their wingsail disintegrating to pieces above them. Groupama finally made it onto the course as Hydros sailed through the finish line, to the applause of hundreds of onlookers on shore and on the water.

“What a shame to see it end like this,” said 2007 and 2010 Little Cup Champion Fred Eaton, who finished 6th overall at the 2013 event. “Jeremie and Billy showed they are true warriors today, and all of Team Canada is sad we didn’t get to see them battle it out with Groupama in breeze more suitable for their boat,” said Eaton.

Cammas was overjoyed to become the first French C-Class Champion in history, even though it came at the expense of long time friends Lagarrigue and Besson. “These conditions are some of the toughest possible for a C-Class, and while we’re sad it ended this way for Billy and Jeremie, we’re proud to bring the Little Cup back to France for our team, our fans, and for Groupama,” Cammas said.

A complete News Release will follow tomorrow morning; More news, interviews, photos, and video will follow later in the week. Please follow the International C-Class Facebook and Twitter pages (links below) for more content from the 2013 Little Cup and news about the next International C-Class Catamaran Championship.

Overall Results:

1 – Groupama C – Cammas/Viat
2 – Hydros Lombard Odier I – Besson/Lagarrigue
3 – Cogito – Guck/Kramers
4 – Canaan – Gooderham/Pavey
5 – Hydros Lombard Odier II – Heemskerk/Tentij
6 – Fill Your Hands – Eaton/Clarke
7 – Patient Lady VI – Bentemps/Gahinet
8 – Aethon – Clark/Moore
9 – Invictus – Phipps/Bader
10 – Alpha – Patience/Aviles
11 – Wild Horse – Cayola/Balieto
Full Results

Ken Docherty reporting above. Click here for a report by James Boyd/Daily Sail. Below is a report from the Groupama team.

For two days Groupama sailing team has been predicting that it would be difficult to run more than the two races won in duel format against the Swiss crew on Hydros. Indeed, on the south-western tip of England, in Cornwall, the weather is even more fickle than it is in Brittany. And that’s really saying something…

This Saturday morning, for the final day of the Little America’s Cup, the Race Committee was keen to launch a start. For the Swiss contingent, down two races to zero, the desire to get out on the water was stronger than the sense of good seamanship which prevailed among Groupama sailing team. The cause of this was a race zone swept by a good twenty knots or so of breeze, with peaks in excess of this.

Whilst Groupama C remained on shore, refusing to play at `Russian roulette’, Hydros headed off for a training sail and capsized a first time without too much mishap.

Still on shore with his first two wins banked, Franck Cammas decided to leave the Swiss to take the start on their own. It was a tough decision to make but it proved to be very wise as Besson and Lagarrigue capsized, severely damaging their wing.

Ultimately then, Groupama C took the win in the World C Class Championship 2013 by default after rather outrageously dominating all the races run.

This latest victory by Groupama sailing team caps a virtually perfect season for its favourite skipper. A fierce competitor, a rigorous racer and an ambitious skipper, Franck Cammas now has his sights on the 35th America’s Cup organised by Larry Ellison.

By taking the win in this international event, which has enabled every team to develop its architectural potential and research, the French skipper has asserted himself at the head of a team which his rivals and compatriots alike are eagerly awaiting to see in the `big’ America’s Cup…

Franck Cammas:This victory in the Little America’s Cup is down to the entire team, the most long-term members of which have been working together for the past fifteen years. It’s also down to Groupama, who have provided us with active backing. It’s over to us now to go further and higher, together, so as to be ready to challenge the Americans in the big Cup. By securing a win here, we’ve proven that our design team and our design office were up to the challenge. Thank you to them.

Louis Viat (crew):Arriving in Falmouth, we were full of uncertainty as we’d never sized up our performance in relation to anyone else before. Very quickly though we saw that we were better in terms of heading and speed. In such conditions, it’s easier to win races. Added to that, Franck has been supreme. As per usual.

Martin Fisher (member of the Design Team):Groupama C really outclassed her rivals. Statistically, it was the equivalent difference between a Hobby Cat 16 and a Formula 18, that is nearly 20% extra power. As is the case in all his projects, Franck has an ability to push deeper and get the best out of his team. He’s incredible!

Expected into his Lorient base early next week, the skipper of Groupama sailing team will follow up this latest exploit five days later with an entry in the Semaine Olympique Française in La Rochelle aboard the Nacra 17 with Sophie de Turckheim.

When we tell you he never stops…

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