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Faster together than alone

Groupama Sailing Team in the sun! © Yann Riou/Groupama Sailling Team/Volvo Ocean Race
Groupama Sailing Team in the sun! © Yann Riou/Groupama Sailling Team/Volvo Ocean Race

After two legs largely spent going it alone, Groupama sailing team have discovered the pleasure of keeping company.

Irish helmsman/trimmer Damian Foxall said the French team, who split from the fleet during Leg 1 and Leg 2, are gaining speed – and motivation – from keeping race leaders PUMA and Abu Dhabi in their sight.

“We are faster together, than alone,” said Foxall. “Every 10th of a knot, every shift is important,’’ he said.  “We have a good pacemaker – PUMA, who are ahead.

"It's never monotonous when we are sailing neck and neck. In front, behind and on the side, we expect more from our selves and more focused. It gives us a real indication."
Skipper Franck Cammas first split from the fleet during Leg 1 when he gambled on an easterly course along the coast of Africa, while his opponents trekked west and made decisive gains.

During Leg 2, the French split from the fleet twice, first to take the lead on a more southerly Indian Ocean route, and second when they lost the lead on a more westerly course where they fell foul of the Doldrums.

Leg 3 has seen the fleet remain compressed, with just around 20 nautical miles separating PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG in first, and Team Sanya in sixth after about 700 nm of racing. Groupama are trailing in third position, about five miles behind PUMA’s Mar Mostro.

Foxall said the fleet was so closely matched on speed that tactics would become critical, especially once they reach the shipping superhighway in the Malacca Strait.

“The speed differences are very small,’’ he said.  “Everyone has the main up with a genoa. It all comes down to the transitions – like CAMPER in a squall yesterday night.’

“In one day and half we will get closer to the northern cape of Sumatra and we need to be ready to attack when entering Malacca Strait.”


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