Watchuseek Blog

Friday, March 16, 2012

Perfect timing: Groupama cross the finish line more than 80 nautical miles ahead of nearest competitor.

Groupama sailing team claimed a dramatic Leg 4 victory last Saturday after the discovery of a hole in their bow threatened to sink their lead within 100 miles of the Auckland finish.

The French team rallied in eight metre seas and 30 knot headwinds to isolate the leak and drain 1.5 tonnes of water before crossing the finish line at 10:33:47 UTC/23:33:47 local, more than 80 nautical miles ahead of their nearest competitor.

Skipper Franck Cammas was thrilled with the win and in becoming the first French team to take line honours in a Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race finish into Auckland, although 33 Export did win on handicap back in 1977-78.

"It's a great day for Groupama 4 and it's a great to arrive here first into Auckland,'' Cammas said. "I'm pretty sure we're going to have a good time here with all the sailing fans. It's a good place to win for sure."
Cammas, a first time Volvo Ocean Race competitor, said the race was won and lost on a bold decision made by navigator Jean-Luc Nélias.

"The key thing for this leg was to be quick and to make good decisions," he said.  "We knew we had to do both of those things and we did. This is where we ended up. The turning point in the leg was when we made a very bold call with PUMA in the north and it paid off. That was the decisive moment."

Winning the unofficial race to be the first Kiwi home was elated bowman Brad Marsh who flew a New Zealand flag overhead as the team were welcomed to Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour by hundreds of family, friends and fans.

“It feels amazing,” the 28-year-old Aucklander said. "It’s a childhood dream for me. I didn’t allow myself to think about winning up until today. But the excitement set in as we came down the coast and I realised it was all going to happen."

Groupama have stymied Team Telefónica’s winning streak of three consecutive leg wins and claimed 30 points that will shoot them to the top of the leaderboard with a total of 103.

This victory allows French crew of Groupama 4 to gain a place in the overall standing and therefore to take the second place behind team Spanish Telefonica.

And of course on the wrist of Franck Cammas since he left Alicante, Spain on November 4th, is his trusty Diverscope from the Swiss watchmaker JeanRichard.

The gruelling round the world race with will end in Galway, Ireland on July 7th 2012.

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