Successful operation for Franck Cammas

Published on December 1st, 2015

(December 1, 2015) – Injuring his right leg on November 30, 2015 during a crew training session in Quiberon Bay, Brittany, aboard a 10-metre long flying catamaran, Franck Cammas, the skipper of Groupama Team France will be away from the race zone for several weeks.

The orthopaedic surgery department at the University Hospital Hôtel Dieu in Nantes, France, operated on a double Tibia-Fibula fracture early evening yesterday and Franck Cammas will begin his rehabilitation in January 2016.

Involved in a two-boat training campaign for the past five days within the context of the French team’s preparations for the 35th America’s Cup, Monday began like any other day: workout session at the thalassotherapy centre in Quiberon, breakfast, video debriefing of the previous day’s training under coach Bertrand Pacé and then sailing.

On the race zone in Quiberon Bay, between Port Haliguen and the Ecole Nationale de Voile (French Sailing School), weather conditions were ideal with a 17 to 18-knot westerly wind and flat seas due to being on the lee of the Quiberon peninsula. At the helm of the two GC32s, Franck Cammas and New Zealander Adam Minoprio were linking together the duelling start procedures in true match racing style.

At the start of the day’s final race, the French skipper’s boat, driven by a 5-man crew, was homing in on the start line on port tack and bore away to position itself more favourably in relation to its sparring partner.

This is the moment the incident occurred. When the catamaran rose up on her foils, she accelerated away at 25 knots (50km/hr) and Franck Cammas was thrown off balance and fell overboard. Unfortunately for him, his right leg hit the rudder on the leeward hull. The speed in conjunction with the sharpness of the carbon appendage caused a deep wound.

Straightaway, one of Groupama Team France’s crew grabbed the boat’s helm to avoid capsizing. At the same time, coach Bertrand Pacé, who was supervising the training session aboard a support rib, rallied to Cammas’ assistance and got him aboard as delicately as possible. At low speed, whilst phoning the emergency services, Pacé headed to nearby Port Haliguen.

Some twelve minutes after his arrival the emergency services arrived at the scene and Franck was taken care of by the firefighters and a doctor from the mobile emergency medical service. Thirty minutes later, the skipper was airlifted to Nantes by helicopter to take advantage of the best possible trauma care. Undergoing surgery lasting several hours in the latter half of the afternoon, Franck Cammas was reassured by the doctors when he came round: he will not lose the use of his foot; the arteries, nerves and tendons are unaffected.

Taking visitors this Tuesday morning in hospital, the skipper had a clear head, anxious to maintain the programme both on the water in Lorient and in Paris for the Nautic boat show and was already wondering: “So are the guys back out training?” Moreover, Franck is very touched by all the encouragement he has received: “Thank you everyone, all these messages are going straight to my heart and are further strengthening my resolve to get back out there as soon as possible”.

For now though, the skipper needs to get some rest and most unusually will have to favour a reclining position before beginning a long period of rehabilitation in Lorient in order to get back into the competition in 2016.

Though the continuation of the challenge set by Franck Cammas, Michel Desjoyeaux and Olivier de Kersauson with Groupama Team France for the 35th America’s Cup remains a reality, the same does not hold true for preparations for the Olympic Games, which Cammas has been involved in for the past three years with his co-skipper Sophie de Turckheim. Battling it out with the triple world champions Besson – Riou to secure possible qualification during the World Nacra 17 Championship in Clearwater this coming February, the Lorient-based crew obviously won’t be able to defend its chances.

The reactions:
Thierry Martel, Groupama, partner to Franck Cammas since 1998:
“Firstly, we’re extremely relieved to learn that Franck won’t lose the use of his right foot. The coming months are likely to be tough at times for a sailor who sails nearly 320 days a year. However, we’re confident that Franck will take up the gauntlet with his familiar fighting spirit. He can count on our unfailing support. A genuine relationship of trust has been established between Franck and Groupama, armed by an eighteen-year partnership. We will remain loyal to him as he has always been to us and we’re certain that he’ll come out of this even stronger than before. We also trust in Bruno Dubois, Michel Desjoyeaux, Olivier de Kersauson and the entire Groupama Team France to really prepare well for the 35th America’s Cup. It’s a feature of a team to pull together and organise itself when one of its own has a problem”.

Bruno Dubois, team manager of Groupama Team France:
“It’s hard to find the words in times of crisis like those we’ve been experiencing since yesterday. We’re working hard to make up the deficit we have in relation to the other teams… and there’s still a long way to go before the first events in Bermuda in 2017. We will keep the focus on our common goals and naturally we hope to see Franck back at the helm very soon”.

Source: Groupama Sailing Team

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