Date of birth: 22 December 1972
Place of birth: Aix-en-Provence
Place of residence: Guidel
Personal situation: Single – 2 children: Thaïs (14) and Jade (11)
Role within Groupama Team France: Founder of the French challenge – Skipper – Helmsman
Education: First/second year advanced maths class preparing for the Grandes Écoles
Franck in brief:
He no longer needs an introduction. The only thing missing from the trophy cabinet of this sailor born in Aix-en-Provence is victory in the Olympic Games and the America’s Cup. In singlehanded, double-handed or crewed configuration, from the Solitaire du Figaro to the Route du Rhum, the Transat Jacques Vabre to the Jules Verne Trophy or the Little America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race, all of which he’s won, 44-year-old Franck Cammas has built up an exceptional track record. His technological approach, his intelligence, his good seamanship and his huge capacity for work, his talent for surrounding himself with the best people and delegating, plus an extraordinary degree of determination, all characterise this petite yet tireless sailor. Putting every effort into winning is the leitmotif of this remarkable racer, whose sole focus is performance.
Discovered in the nineties, this 44-year-old Mediterranean is one of the most experienced and most widely recognised skippers as much in France as overseas.
Franck’s initial contact with the sea took place in Marseille. At 10 years of age he puts in his first tacks at an Optimist training session at the UNM (a club in Marseille’s old port). Now bitten by the sailing bug, he continues to move up through the ranks on a 420, just a stone’s throw away, at the Yacht Club de la Pointe Rouge, where Franck is still a member.
Meantime, he was also excelling at his studies: Bac C (British A’ level equivalent in economics, sciences and maths, a First/second year advanced maths class preparing for the Grandes Écoles, then lessons at the Conservatoire de Musique where he played piano. However, at 18, he set a course for Brittany, getting more of a kick out of the aerodynamics of sailing rather than quantum mechanics according to Manfred Curry. Les Glénans sailing school, then the Institut Nautique de Bretagne would be his first ports of call, before the adventure began in 1993 with his victory in the Challenge Espoir, which opened doors to the Solitaire du Figaro and the training centre in Port-La-Forêt, north-west France, headed by Christian Le Pape. It was on his 4th participation in 1997 that Franck won the famous Solitaire. Days later, he met with executives at Groupama. Won over by the determination and youthful appeal of this sailor from the South of France, they placed their trust in him, fitting out a 60-foot trimaran for him to sail.
The offshore racing era
1998: On his first race, the Grand Prix de la Trinité sur Mer, he finished second behind Loïck Peyron! A few months later, for his first transatlantic race at the helm of such a boat, he secured 3rd place in the Route du Rhum behind Laurent Bourgnon and Alain Gautier.
2000: For Franck and his team, the year 2000 established his reputation. After the first offshore victory between Quebec and Saint Malo, the skipper won his first Grand Prix in Fécamp. That same year, he became ORMA Champion and world FICO champion. In France and in offshore racing, it’s the start of the Cammas years.
2002: After four successful years, 2002 proves more difficult with a dismasting and subsequent capsize just hours after the start of the Route du Rhum. However, Franck and his team bounce back.
2003: It’s a full house! Groupama wins the Challenge Mondial Assistance, the Transat Jacques Vabre, as well as three of the four Grands Prix contested. Franck is ORMA champion for the third time.
2004: After six years of good and faithful service, the first Groupama trimaran is replaced by Groupama 2, designed from a blank page. The year is also marked by the signing of an extension to the partnership through until 2011 and work starts on a 31.5-metre maxi-trimaran dedicated to hunting records in crewed configuration.
2005: Victorious in the Transat Jacques Vabre transatlantic race in 2001 and 2003, Franck Cammas, accompanied for the second consecutive edition by Franck Proffit takes the race start in November 2005 at the helm of Groupama 2. Leading the fleet for the first five days of racing, they capsize offshore of the Canaries.
2006:As was the case in 2002, the team led by Franck works flat out for the whole of the winter 2005-2006 to get the 60-footer back on the water. The results come in: Franck and his crew make a clean sweep of the prizes (Grands Prix and crewed offshore racing).
In the meantime, in June, the maxi-trimaran Groupama 3 is launched after an 18-month build. With the speed prize for the Route du Rhum going to a raging Lionel Lemonchois, Franck finishes fifth.
2007: First attempts and first records for Groupama 3 and her crew, who consecutively secure the reference times for the Discovery Route, Miami-New York, the North Atlantic and the greatest distance covered in 24 hours.
2008: The first bid to conquer the Jules Verne Trophy ends offshore of New Zealand following the breakage of the port float. The crew, safe and sound, is airlifted by helicopter by the New Zealand coastguard before the crew return to the scene of the accident two days later to tow Groupama 3 to Dunedin. The maxi-trimaran will then be loaded onto a cargo ship bound for Lorient.
2009: After a six-month refit, Groupama 3 is relaunched. On a tour of the Mediterranean to meet associates from the Groupama subsidiaries, the crew of the maxi-trimaran makes the most of the opportunity to secure a fifth record, that of the Mediterranean between Marseille and Carthage. Two months later, Groupama 3 crosses the Atlantic in 3 days and 18 hours and covers 857 miles in 24 hours at an average speed of 35.7 knots. Some outstanding references but not good enough to protect them from the fantastic time racked up by Banque Populaire, which set out from New York two hours after Groupama 3. 2010: the ten-man crew on Groupama 3 wins one of the most coveted trophies in the world of offshore racing, the Jules Verne Trophy in 48 days 7 hours 44 minutes and 52 seconds. Next, alone at the helm of the same trimaran, Franck Cammas wins the Route du Rhum.
Meantime, a VOR 70 monohull penned by Juan Kouyoumdjian is in gestation at the heart of the Multiplast yard.
2011/2012: From the multihull to the monohull, from French races to a crewed round the world with stopovers… Always aiming for performance and new challenges, Franck and his team don’t think twice about taking the plunge. If the French team had simply come along for the ride, the reality shows Franck and his 13 crew round off this circumnavigation with victory.
Following this brilliant victory, a new era opens for Franck Cammas, who now has but one aim, to mount a French challenge to participate in the America’s Cup. Knowing that he’s lacking practice and skill in Match Racing and on sports catamarans, the skipper from the South of France decides at that point to sign up for an Olympic preparation on the Nacra 17 with Sophie de Turckheim and participate in the Tour de France à la Voile, as well as in the Little America’s Cup on the C-Class with Louis Viat. The duo masterfully wins the challenge in 2015, a year in which Franck racks up over 300 days of sailing!
On 11 December 2013 - 11/12/13 – Franck, together with Michel Desjoyeaux and Olivier de Kersauson, announce during a press conference in Paris that they wish to mount a French challenge together.
On 25 June 2015: Groupama, a trusty partner to Franck since 1997, announces its commitment as title partner, thus marking the birth of Groupama Team France and the setting up of operations for the French challenge, which participated in the preliminary circuit of the America’s Cup, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series from July 2015.
2016: The tricolour challenge designs, builds and launches a Test AC Class in record time on which to train.
2017: Cammas and his team set up base in Bermuda back in mid-February and are relentlessly continuing with developments and training sessions on the AC Class through until the first duel on 26 May…
Your first memory of ‘Sailing’?
The book on Pen Duick VI’s round the world.
Your sailing highlight?
The Volvo Ocean Race finish in Ireland.
The worst moment?
Groupama 2’s capsize off the Canaries.
What does the America’s Cup mean to you?
The highest level in all areas of performance in sailing.
Do you recall a special moment in an America’s Cup? If so, can you tell us about it?
The final between Alinghi / Team New Zealand in Auckland with the dismasting of Team New Zealand.
Housework, cooking, gardening, what do you do at home?
I do the housework, the cooking and the gardening.
What can we find in your fridge?
Fresh produce only, no ready-made meals.
Your morning ritual?
I don’t have one.
Your favourite meal?
On a Sunday when you’re not working, what do you do?
I go cycling, I go to the cinema or I go hiking.
You have to choose three people to have supper with, who are they?
Mike Horn, Martin Fourcade and Audrey Tautou.
The last film or/and book, which had an impact on you?
The Mountains of My Life by W. Bonatti.
What TV programme or TV series would you like to be part of?
“On n’est pas couché”, a Saturday Night show where famous guests are invited to discuss the week’s news highlights.
The sport you enjoy doing?
The sport you could never have practiced?
Who is your best mate in sailing?
Which sailor would you have liked to sail with and why?
Are you always right?
What were you like as a child?
A model pupil and dreamer.
The nickname that best suits you?
Your favourite subject at school?
The subject you least liked?
Your ideal redeployment?
Your dream retirement is where?
I hope I never retire.
During which period would you have liked to live?
Your last moment of madness?
I’ll keep that to myself.
Who’s the Fashion Victim in Groupama Team France?
I don’t think there is one.
Who do you dream of meeting?
Your worst failing?
Your main quality?
Enthusiastic (except in the case of this series of questions!!!).
You never leave without…
My mobile phone.