Volvo Ocean Race: Groupama almost secure Overall Race with InPort win

Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France celebrate winning the Bretagne In-Port Race, in Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.

Groupama took a dream home victory in the Bretagne In-Port Race on Saturday to take a big step closer to an overall race victory, while Camper finished second to tie with Puma at the top of the in-shore series.

Skipper Franck Cammas and his Groupama crew scored six points for winning, taking their total to 225 points overall -- 25 points ahead of their closest rival with just one leg and one in-port to go.

Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand lead the fleet in the Bretagne In-Port Race, in Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand led the whole race but butchered the final downwind leg erasing a 25 second advantage in just a few minutes and lost the race lead to the hometown heroes. They had got out to an excellent start and dominated the race, looking to have the maximum points safely secured, until the closing stages of the final run.

Chris Nicholson's team scored five points, taking their total to 196 and their in-port tally to 39. Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg held on to third place after second place was lost when a jib sheet blew free, taking vital seconds to get under control and sheeted.

Team Telefónica clawed back from last to finish fourth, followed by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in fifth and Team Sanya sixth.

'We snatched defeat from victory there, just the lay-line coming in on that last run,' said Nicholson.

'We had a slightly different wind shift, Groupama hung in and were ready to pounce.'

Camper gained an early jump leading off the start-line in a 10 to 12 knot westerly in Lorient's Port Foll as the fleet split across the left and right sides on the upwind opening leg.

Nicholson's team made a perfect call on the lay-line, thanks to the expert advice of trimmer and world match racing champion Adam Minoprio, to hold their advantage and round the first mark in top-spot. Groupama rounded in second, followed by Puma, Sanya, Telefónica and Abu Dhabi, who continued to be punished for a late tack during the start sequence.

Puma competing in the Bretagne In-Port Race, in Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.
Using aggressive tactics on the fast-paced second leg Puma edged ahead of Groupama at the second mark, before dropping back to third when the crew lost control of the jib sheet.

Camper continued to lead, while Abu Dhabi were able to capitalise on a Telefónica's inshore weakness and move into fourth place.

Sanya slumped to sixth. Under the watchful eye of thousands of spectators the teams fought hard to make gains knowing full well that opportunities for scoring points were running out and the importance of each meant more than ever before.

But after about an hour's quick-fire racing when Camper looked like a certain victor the team were rolled by the locals, as Groupama was able to sail a deeper course to the final downwind mark, sliding through to leeward of camper and erasing their 25 second lead. Camper were fortunate not to lose another place on the same leg to Puma, who round the mark on Camper's transom. Groupama went on to claim first by 13 seconds.

The final and shortest leg of the 2011-12 edition will start on Sunday when the teams begin the 550 nautical mile sprint from Lorient in France to Galway on the west coast of Ireland at 1102 local, 1302 UTC.

Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France celebrate winning the Bretagne In-Port Race, in Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.

Groupama Sailing Team pull down their spinnaker, during the Bretagne In-Port Race, in Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.

Camper competing in the Bretagne In-Port Race, in Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.

Groupama Sailing Team approaching the finish, to claim victory in the Bretagne In-Port Race, in Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.

Groupama Sailing Team competing in the Bretagne In-Port Race, in Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.

Puma Ocean Racing showing off their striking graphics, in the Bretagne In-Port Race, in Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race

Groupama Sailing Team, approaching the rounding mark, in the Bretagne In-Port Race, in Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.