The 40th and final race of the preliminary circuit rounded off with a fine race victory for Groupama Team France in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series. A fitting conclusion for the French team, who controlled the start phase to perfection and led the final fleet race from beginning to end, securing the bullet with a sizeable lead over its rivals.
Today, this first phase of the 35th America’s Cup ends on a positive note for the French challenge, while the crown goes to the British team on Land Rover Bar, with the American Defender, Oracle Team USA, taking second place. Groupama Team France brings up the rear of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series ranking having amassed valuable experience, which has enabled it to make solid progress, particularly with regards the start phases and maintaining control in flight mode.
There are now six months to go till the Louis Vuitton Qualifiers, which is a completely different exercise since the competitors will compete in a series of duels on prototype catamarans that are the fruit of each team’s labours.
Rounding things off on a high
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series kicked off in July 2015 in Portsmouth and has just drawn to a close in the Land of the Rising Sun after 40 races run over 9 acts.
Finishing this first phase with a 4th race victory has given a bit of a boost to the team led by Franck Cammas, who made no secret of his frustration at the conclusion of this weekend in Japan:
“We’ve done some really great things and some that are less good, especially with regards to dropping places despite being well positioned on certain legs and fluffing some of the starts. It’s very disappointing, though we’re aware of the potential we have. Evidence of this came in the final race, which we won by leading the way from beginning to end without a sour note.”
Bertrand Pacé, coach to Groupama Team France, gives us the low-down:
“The team alternated between some very good work and some very poor work. We weren’t able to sail consistently. The end result is frustrating in terms of the situations we got into in certain races. The bottom line is that we found it hard to be well coordinated. There were some silly manœuvres and at times the trimming wasn’t always perfect. Without trying to look for excuses, it’s important to note that in relation to our rival crews, we’ve been making crew changes throughout the season aboard Groupama Team France. It’s a choice we made to ensure each crew member had a chance to hone their experience and everyone has sailed in a race situation. We’re a group and we will perform as one,” says the coach with seven America’s Cup competitions to his credit.
“We mustn’t forget the positives. In 40 races, we’ve made a great deal of progress. We’re able to control the flight phase a lot better than before, as we showed today in the final race, where we were the only ones flying downwind, our VMG upwind is considerably better and, as a general rule, the crew is able to sail the AC45 Series with great ease and aptitude.”
Among the competitors as a whole, the general standard has inevitably improved with every showdown, with the English perhaps having a slight edge thanks to being great all-rounders: good speed, good choices in terms of strategic positioning and few sour notes. Indeed, Sir Ben Ainslie’s crew aboard Land Rover BAR secured the first step of the Japanese podium and with it won the overall ranking for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series.
Runners-up on the overall score card were the Americans on ORACLE TEAM USA, who posted a 3rd place in Fukuoka.
Solely these two competitors will carry points forward to the future competition, respectively being credited with 2 points and 1 point. As such, the English and the Americans will kick off the next stage of the 35th America’s Cup, the Louis Vuitton Qualifiers*, boasting a slight advantage.
Six months to go till the 1st duel
The next time that all the teams competing in the 35th America’s Cup hook up again will be on the race zone in Bermuda, which will play host to a very different exercise to that offered to the teams competing on the preliminary circuit. Indeed, it’s goodbye to the fleet races and hello to the duel-style match races. The French challenge will be up against the American Defender in the opening duel of the Louis Vuitton Qualifiers with a match scheduled for Friday 26 May 2017.
“The LVACWS are nothing like the America’s Cup. The next stage will consist of match races on boats designed by each of the teams. The work done by our engineers is very important going forward, as is all the fine tuning and training we’re currently doing on our Test AC Class, which we’ll continue on the AC Class.”
There are still six months left for the French team to hone its preparations between Brittany and Bermuda.
*To discover the different stages that make up the 35th America’s Cup, don’t hesitate to visit our website HERE (http://groupamateamfrance.americascup.com/fr/news/489_Le-calendrier-de-la-35e-Coupe-de-l-America.html)
The crew aboard the AC45 Groupama Team France in Fukuoka:
Helmsman / skipper: Franck Cammas
Wing trimmer: Adam Minoprio
Tactics: Thomas Le Breton
Headsail trimmer: Arnaud Jarlegan
Bowman: Devan Le Bihan
Replacement: Matthieu Vandame
Overall ranking LVACWS Fukuoka
- Land Rover BAR - Ben Ainslie with 75 points
- Artemis Racing - Nathan Outteridge with 75 points
- Oracle Team USA - Tom Slingsby with 70 points
- Emirates Team New-Zealand - Glenn Ashby with 65 points
- SoftBank Team Japan - Dean Barker with 61 points
- Groupama Team France - Franck Cammas with 59 points
Overall ranking Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series
1 Land Rover BAR – 512 points
2 Oracle Team USA – 493 points
3 Emirates Team New-Zealand – 485 points
4 Artemis Racing – 466 points
5 SoftBank Team Japan – 460 points
6 Groupama Team France – 419 points