Groupama 4 arrives in Lorient

Groupama Sailing Team transport their new Volvo Open 70 from Multiplast to their training camp in Lorient.
©Pilpre A./Studio Zedda
Groupama 4 left the Multiplast yard in Vannes, SW Brittany, this Saturday morning, at 0545 GMT.

After a delivery by road, Franck Cammas’ new Volvo Open 70 arrived at Groupama Sailing Team’s base in nearby Lorient at 0830 hours, a moment the whole team had been looking forward to.

After 40,000 man hours, the first Volvo Open 70 to be built in France emerged from the yard today. In the early hours of this morning, the members of Groupama Sailing Team gathered together to organise the special wide load comprising Franck Cammas’ VO 70.

Stéphane Guilbaud, Team Manager of Groupama Sailing Team, was responsible for the wide load from beginning to end: 'We left at daybreak because we were keen to have a safe journey. The start of the trip, in Vannes, was pretty complicated to manage as there wasn’t a lot of room for manoeuvre. The trees prevented us from moving the boat initially. After that we had to traverse a zone were construction materials were stored. We also had to negotiate some ‘classic’ roundabouts which were complicated to get across. Despite all that the delivery trip went really smoothly…'

Indeed the transport of Groupama 4 should have taken three or even four hours, but the shore crew, with assistance from Volvo Trucks, managed to complete the transfer in just 2 hours 45 minutes.

Stéphane Guilbaud: 'The whole team got together for the occasion… It’s a real high point: the end of the construction of the boat also means that the first sea trial is approaching. For all of us it’s the culmination of 11 months of work'.

Prior to the launch, scheduled for 10 May, there is still a substantial jobs’ list for Groupama Sailing Team, as the skipper of Groupama, Franck Cammas highlights: 'This is a very fine stage in the history of the project: Groupama 4 has finally made it to the base and we have her in front of us! The team will be able to work on her day and night now to fine tune the VO70 with a view to her launch. It’s almost done: we have to finish the electrics and fit the keel, mast and deck hardware, even though the latter has already been pre-assembled.'

The crew still has some work to do then before the monohull is ready to criss-cross the oceans. Indeed the final steps must be performed by the sailors themselves because they’re the ones who will be tasked with Groupama 4’s upkeep during the various stages of the Volvo Ocean Race. Franck Cammas: 'It’s really important that the boat is at the base with us as it really saves time: that will guarantee a quick launch. We’re happy to have such a fine engine almost ready to go sailing. She has some fine lines and we’re keen to trial her on the water. The Multiplast yard has really done a good job. It’s over to us now to finish it off…'

Ten intense days are in prospect then for Groupama Sailing Team but their spirits are high and the desire to go sailing is very much in evidence…

Technical specifications for Groupama 4:

LOA: 21.50m
Beam: 5.70m
Water draught: 4.50m
Displacement: 14 tonnes
Keel: swing
Material: carbon honeycomb sandwich
Upwind sails: 315m²
Downwind sails: 675m²
Architect: Juan Kouyoumdjian

The Volvo Ocean Race is a crewed round the world race with stopovers, the Volvo Ocean Race, formerly known as the Whitbread, will set out from Alicante (Spain) on 5 November 2011 for its eleventh edition. Spanning 9 months and 10 stopovers, the participating crews will cover over 39,270 miles over 4 oceans. The race will conclude in Galway (Ireland) on 7 July 2012 after making a stopover in Lorient, France, Groupama Sailing Team’s base, from 16 June to 1 July 2012. Groupama 4 is the first French boat to compete in the event since 1993. VOR website here

Groupama Sailing Team transport their new Volvo Open 70 from Multiplast to their training camp in Lorient.
©Pilpre A./Studio Zedda

Groupama Sailing Team transport their new Volvo Open 70 from Multiplast to their training camp in Lorient.
©Pilpre A./Studio Zedda

Groupama Sailing Team transport their new Volvo Open 70 from Multiplast to their training camp in Lorient.
©Pilpre A./Studio Zedda