Groupama Team France: The Path to the Cup

Teams make their final preparations for the launch of the new boats and the last training before the main event in June.

groupama team france

Racing Day 1 of Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Fukuoka

Groupama Team France was a late addition to the America's Cup World Series, and is now gearing up for the main stage in Bermuda.Ricardo Pinto/ACEA

Groupama Team France Skipper Franck Cammas took his team for a 24 hour stopover in Paris for Nautic 2016, the traditional French end-of-year gathering for sailors, sailing enthusiasts and the wider boating world.

While meeting their fans at the event the team outlined its plans from mid-December until 26th May 2017 when they will face ORACLE TEAM USA in the opening match race of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, the start of the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda.

Their 2016 training program ends on 18th December when attention will turn to their 2017 America’s Cup Class (ACC) boat. Team Manager Bruno Dubois explained that “our training catamaran, which was launched last July, is made up of 90% of the elements that will be used in the ACC boat that will compete in Bermuda this coming May. However, we’re going to bond onto it some hulls that are 1.5 metres longer and add some slightly more advanced systems.”

This work will be carried out by Groupama Team France’s shore crew, who will work with the Multiplast yard in Vannes, France from 26th December through to mid-January when the boat will be transported to Bermuda.

Franck Cammas picks up the story “the first part of the team will set off at the end of January to assemble our base, and the other half, including the sailors, will head off in mid-February. At that point, we’ll work reassembling the boat (in Bermuda) and carry out trials. The ACC boat will go for her first test sail in the first week of March and then, from that stage, the team will train relentlessly right through until the first race on 26th May.”

Although a lot of the team’s focus is on the ACC boat and the move to Bermuda, the importance of preparing the sailors for the physical and mental challenges that lie ahead are of paramount importance. To help achieve this the team’s coaches, Bertrand Pacé and Neil Maclean-Martin, have put together a series of training sessions for the sailors on the waters off Quiberon, France on board two GC32s, plus they are facing an intensive week of mountaineering.

Finally, even though the ACC boat is going to be packed up and dispatched across the Atlantic to Bermuda, the Groupama Team France Design Team are still working on the final decision about which foils they will use, and the location of the 33m2 of fairing permitted in the rules. A final decision will be made on these critical elements before the end of 2016.

Groupama Team France schedule pre-Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers 2017:

18th December 2016: End of training at the Naval College, Lanvéoc, France

26th December to mid-January: Transformation of the ACC Test boat to the full ACC race boat

22nd January: Containers leave France for Bermuda with the ACC boat

Mid-February: Assembly of the ACC boat in Bermuda

1st week in March: First sail in Bermuda

26th May 2017: First Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers race, Groupama Team France vs ORACLE TEAM USA