Franck Cammas wins the breeze lottery off Cap d’Agde to even the score in the Orma 9 Telecom Multihull Grand Prix Series

The southeasterly winds and short, viscious chop that made life so difficult on the first two days, gave way to glassy calms and compass-boxing zephyrs on Sunday, the final day’s racing of the third round of the Orma 9 Telecom Multihull Grand Prix Series. The famous northwesterlies of the Tramontane, that were expected to waft these 60ft trimarans along at over 30kn, have steadfastly refused to show up throughout.

With big holes and 180° shifts flipping the fleet inside out, this was a bad day to be a tactician. Still Groupama managed to get the jump, sailing above Jean Le Cam’s Bonduelle, with Foncia chasing through the still air. Foncia co-skippers Alain Gautier and Ellen MacArthur, winners of the first round in Fécamp and the long offshore Challenge Mondial Assistance, were protecting a slender point lead over Franck Cammas’ Groupama when the day began.

Groupama sailed slow, safe and clear to finish ahead of Foncia over the weekend with Jean Luc Nélias’ 11-year-old Belgacom, formerly Fujicolor II, a commendable third. Nélias is working well with navigator Thierry Péponnet on the oldest boat in the field and now stands second after three events.

The second oldest boat, Yvan Bourgnon’s Bayer en France, is lightning in stronger breeze but struggled in the light airs off Cap d’Agde and found herself unable to capitalise on the years of top flight multihull racing experience onboard.

For the new boats, the signs were mixed. Around Alone winner Giovanni Soldini’s first competitive foray in his new Fila ended yesterday when a ponderous gybe before the start tore his only main in two. He said when he arrived that the boat wasn’t ready and neither, it seems, is the crew, hardly surprising given the learning curve from mono to multi.

Fila’s older sistership Bonduelle however, has worked out a good many of her gremlins and her two second places did not go unnoticed.

Lalou Roucayrol’s new Banque Populaire is, in contrast, gremlin-ridden. He recently retired from the arduous Challenge Mondial Assistance with mast problems and they recurred here in the steep chop of the first two days. Loïck Peyron is also getting to know his new boat Fujifilm but still managed to finish all six races, a remarkable achievement that reflects Peyron’s decades at the cutting edge of multihull racing.

These boats are notorious for their behavioural quirks and crew work must be right on the money to cope with the eccentricities of sailing on the edge of control. None of the new designs will be seriously competitive until next season but both they and the proven designs will be in Cagliari for the third round, 22-24 June.

Orma 9 Telecom Multihull Grand Prix Series 2001
Final Results for Round Three – Cap d’Agde
1. Groupama (Franck Cammas) 13 points (5-2-1-3-1-1)2. Foncia (Alain Gautier) 14 points (1-3-2-2-3-3)3. Belgacom (Jean-Luc Nélias) 17 points (2-1-3-1-6-4)4. Bonduelle (Jean Le Cam) 20 points (3-4-5-4-2-2)5. Bayer (Yvan Bourgnon) 36 points (8-5-6-6-4-7)6. Fujifilm (Loïck Peyron) 36 points (7-7-7-5-5-5)7. Banque Populaire (Lalou Roucayrol) 38 points (4-6-4-DNF-DNC-6)8. Fila (Giovanni Soldini) 51 points (6-DNF-DNC-DNF-DNC-DNC)

Overall ranking
After three events
1. Foncia (Gautier/MacArthur) 36 points2. Belgacom (Jean-Luc Nélias) 22 points2. Groupama (Franck Cammas) 22 points4. Bayer (Yvan Bourgnon) 11 points5. Bonduelle (Jean Le Cam) 3.3 points6. Fujifilm (Loïck Peyron) 1 point7. Banque Populaire (Lalou Roucayrol) 0.5 point8. Biscuits La Trinitaine (Marc Guillemot) 0.3 point (RTD)9. Fila (Giovanni Soldini) 0.2 point