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Damian Foxall's Groupama is limping towards a haven in Uruguay after being forced to suspend racing from the fifth leg after the mast broke with a second successive victory agonisingly close.

Groupama sailing team plan to construct a jury rig and resume racing to Itajaí after reaching Punta del Este at 0335 UTC on Thursday, 12 hours after dismasting.

Though devastated, French skipper Franck Cammas and his crew are keen to return to the racetrack as soon as practical as a podium finish remains well within reach.

While they are unlikely to return to pole position, with only about 600 nautical miles remaining to the finish, third place is likely as CAMPER continue repairs in Chile and the remainder of the fleet have retired.

The French team were leading the Leg 5 race to Itajaí, Brazil when their mast broke, level with the first spreader, about 10 metres above deck. The team suspended racing at 1542 UTC.

Groupama were 59 nautical miles from Punta del Este, and opted to motor to port. The team were considering shipping their spare mast from the Netherlands and stepping it in port, but this morning decided to continue under jury rig.

"We just lost the rig now, all the crew is safe. We are working to stabilise the rig on the boat. Not easy" - Groupama skipper Franck Cammas

Groupama's dismasting while in the lead earlier today leaves PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA) with only Telefonica (Iker Martínez/ESP) able to challenge them for the lead in the final stage of what has been an incredible Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajaí.

With 677 nautical miles to go to the finish line, Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) dismasted 60 nautical miles (nm) south of Punta del Este, the Uruguayan port that has hosted the Whitbread Race on three occasions.

The team held a narrow lead of about 2.2 nm over PUMA at the time and was sailing close-hauled on port tack, when the rig broke, level with the first spreader, about 10 metres above the deck.

"We just lost the rig now, all the crew is safe. We are working to stabilise the rig on the boat. Not easy," a desolate skipper Franck Cammas told Race HQ at the time.

"We suspend the race now and have a look at what doing. We are 59 miles to Punta del Este."

* Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will ship their boat to Brazil and return to strength for the Itajaí In-Port Race after damage forced them to retire from Leg 5.

The team made the tough call not to attempt to complete the 6,700 nautical mile leg from Auckland to preserve the safety of the crew and stop further damage to their yacht Azzam. Skipper Ian Walker notified race officials of his team's retirement at 1000 UTC on Wednesday.

With 50-knot winds and 10-metre seas forecast at Cape Horn for the next four days, Walker said their decision was "the only logical option".

"As skipper my overriding responsibility is the safety of Azzam and her crew and this is always at the forefront of my mind," Walker said.

"The Southern Ocean is one part of the world you do not want to head out into with a yacht that is not 100 per cent.

"We have carefully reviewed all our options, spoken with our build teams and weather experts and this was the only logical choice available to us."

Abu Dhabi first discovered the damage to the mid section of the left side of Azzam's hull on March 29 while battling horrendous Southern Ocean conditions.

The crew carried out a daring mid-sea repair in 35 knots and four-metre seas, drilling 30 bolts through the hull to reinforce the damaged section.

Despite the team's heroics, it was decided the repair was not strong enough to take on the remaining 3,000 nm of the leg.

On April 4 the team arrived in Puerto Montt Chile.

* The CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand crew is confident of resuming racing in Leg 5 to Itajai over the weekend with repairs on the boat's damaged bow section expected to take three to four days in Puerto Montt. The team arrived in the Chilean port at 2100 local time on Tuesday night and the shore crew, led by Neil Cox, wasted no time in assessing the hull with a full ultrasound survey to check for no further unseen damage.

Skipper Chris Nicholson, competing in his fourth Volvo Ocean Race and no stranger to adversity, said his team was determined to reach Itajai in time to compete in the in-port race.

Shore crew manager Neil Cox said on Tuesday he was hopeful of a quickfire pit stop. "During the course of all this work our sailing team will be getting their heads around the remaining leg as well as any other boat detailing, and with all best intentions and a little luck we hope to be in Brazil and in a position to finish the leg and compete in the in-port race there," he said.

Two Boats Left Sailing

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad issued a statement yesterday expressing his concern at the continuing instances of boats suffering serious damage in the 2011-12 edition.

Frostad, who competed in the race four times himself, said it was not acceptable to have so many incidents of boats failing in a Volvo Ocean Race. Frostad said race organisers would continue to do everything possible to get the boats not currently sailing back in the race as soon as possible.

Text of statement, which was released after Groupama sailing team announced they had suffered a broken mast, leaving only two boats currently racing in Leg 5 from Auckland in New Zealand to Itajaí in Brazil:

"It's too early to conclude exactly why this has happened but we are obviously concerned about seeing so many incidents of damage to our boats both in this leg and in the race as a whole.

"It is not acceptable that in a race like this we have so many failures. It is not unusual for boats to suffer problems, and sailors and shore teams are used to having to deal with some issues with their boats, but this has been on a bigger scale than in the past.

"It's important that we don't leap to any conclusions about why these breakages have happened. Some of them are clearly not related. However, we will take the current issues into account as we make decisions on rules and technology we will be using in the future.

"We have already put in a lot of work, discussing with teams, designers and all other stakeholders about the boats and the rules we will use in the future, and we expect to be in a position to announce a decision on that before the end of the current race.

"For the time being, our focus continues to be on the safety of the sailors. We are doing everything we can to help Groupama, and the rest of the teams not currently sailing, get back in the race as soon as possible."

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - Has the Groupama sailing team adopted a new simplified watch system, keeping just one man on deck to handle the vessel - as demonstrated by Ireland's Damian Foxall in the video above?

Don't worry - it's just a prank for April Fool's Day yesterday!

The yacht and its full compliment of crew have rounded Cape Horn and are currently in overall second place as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet heads to Itajaí in Brazil on the fifth leg and longest passage of the race.

Groupama and PUMA are currently battling for first place on the leg, with Telefónica hot on their heels after making up 180 miles in just 36 hours with speeds near double those of the frontrunners.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
The first of the in-port races ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race start tomorrow in Alicante – and top Irish sailors are among the six teams competing.
Wexford’s Justin Slattery is on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, which is competing in the race for the first time.
Skipper Ian Walker told Sail World: "Everything is ready and we can’t wait to line up against the other teams... The forecast is for strong breeze on Saturday so there will be extra pressure on the crew to get it right."
The team has another Ireland connection in its commercial director David Hassett, a veteran of the Irish yachting scene and backer of Ireland's Green Dragon team in the 2009 race.
Elsewhere, Kerryman Damian Foxall is a watch leader on Groupama, captained by debuting VOR skipper Franck Cammas - who last month received one of France's most prestigious sporting honours.
Meanwhile, the Chinese entry Team Sanya, which is part sponsored by Discover Ireland, is hoping skipper Mike Sanderson - who took Telefónica Blue to the podium at every stage in the 2009-09 race - can repeat his past successes.
In-port races take place in all 10 host ports along the 39,000-nautical-mile route, and as they account for more than 20% of the points, no team will be taking them easy.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, a delegation from Galway - hosts of the final stage of the race next summer - will be in Spain for a week of events beginning tomorrow ahead of the start of the race proper on 5 November.
Sail World has more on the story HERE.

The first of the in-port races ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race start tomorrow in Alicante – and top Irish sailors are among the six teams competing.

Wexford’s Justin Slattery is on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, which is competing in the race for the first time.

Skipper Ian Walker told Sail World: "Everything is ready and we can’t wait to line up against the other teams... The forecast is for strong breeze on Saturday so there will be extra pressure on the crew to get it right."

The team has another Ireland connection in its commercial director David Hassett, a veteran of the Irish yachting scene and backer of Ireland's Green Dragon team in the 2009 race.

Elsewhere, Kerryman Damian Foxall is a watch leader on Groupama, captained by debuting VOR skipper Franck Cammas - who last month received one of France's most prestigious sporting honours.

Meanwhile, the Chinese entry Team Sanya, which is part sponsored by Discover Ireland, is hoping skipper Mike Sanderson - who took Telefónica Blue to the podium at every stage in the 2009-09 race - can repeat his past successes.

In-port races take place in all 10 host ports along the 39,000-nautical-mile route, and as they account for more than 20% of the points, no team will be taking them easy.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, a delegation from Galway - hosts of the final stage of the race next summer - will be in Spain for a week of events beginning tomorrow ahead of the start of the race proper on 5 November.

Sail World has more on the story HERE.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

 Three years after his victory in the first Barcelona World Race with Damian Foxall (in 92 days, 09 hours, 49 minutes and 49 seconds at an average speed of 11.13 knots), Jean-Pierre Dick is doing the double-handed three cape route again. For his second time competing in this race leaving the Catalan city, he will be setting off in the good company of a very well-known figure in offshore racing: Loïck Peyron. The two are already a right pair, all set to dance a very fine two step across the world's oceans. Unquestionably, these talented gentlemen skippers make up a very stylish and dynamic duo, as can be seen from their victory in the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2005, or from their collaboration in the design and the construction to the two sisterships for the previous Vendée Globe. Among the combinations promising success, these partners, together in the Virbac-Paprec 3 cockpit, designed to cut through the waves, will definitely count among the tandems with expertise in sailing in extreme conditions.  In all, there will be plenty to spice up the race between top sailors in this circumnavigation, which promises to be highly intense, with a victory in view.

 

Published in Offshore

Jean Pierre Dick has been talking about preparations for the defence of his title later this month in an interview on the Barcelona race website. He won the global double-handed race in 2008 with Kerry's Damian Foxall. In the latest interview Dick gives a few interesting insights on Ireland's top offshore sailor and how sailing with him compares with Dick's current partner, the famous French offshore sailor Loick Peyron.

Excerpts below and full article HERE

What are the main differences between Damian and Loïck as sailors and who will how you work together compare with last time?
" Last time Damian was more looking after the boat, if there were things to repair he was the man and maybe more at the front of the boat, I was more into picking the weather. Now with Loïck it will be more equivalent, I will be more equal on the repairs this time which is good for my training for the Vendée Globe. And for sure Loïck is very knowledgeable on his weather analysis, so we will work together. If there is a security decision I am the skipper and the owner of the boat, and the project, and they are my sponsors, so that becomes my task, but I want Loïck to be involved in the strategy and the thinking in this race. In this race what makes you successful is the interaction between the two skippers. It is important that we know work well together, we have done some training together and we have done some weather analysis together, so there will be the same level of information."

What are the main differences between the two?
" Loïck has such huge experience, Damian also has huge experience but it is coming more from the Volvo also, Loïck's (experience) is more....well, everything sailing! So I would say the main difference is Damian is a very physical guy, very strong. Loïck is more using his brain to sail smart, to make less effort. So that is how I see things, but there is a change for sure but I will learn more about both experiences as we go. Loïck has more experience with single and double handed races, maybe I would say more experience over his while life. Damian has been more on more physical races like the Volvo. Both are very able to repair the boat, to sail the boat on their own, they would have been able single handed even though Damian did not do more, he would be very talented to do so."

Published in Offshore
17th December 2010

Damian Foxall is First Choice

"When Damian is on a project, it is often the winning one. As such, it is better to have him with us rather than against us."

That tribute to Damian Foxall comes from Franck Cammas, renowned amongst the top sailors in the world. In France his sporting fame lies somewhere between rock star and iconic status. He has a record-breaking career. This year he added two world races to his achievements, the Jules Verne Trophy and the Route du Rhumm.

damian

Ireland's Offshore Ace Damian Foxall has joined Groupama for the next Ocean Race

He races "anything and everything that floats" and his reputation is so strong that the huge worldwide Groupama insurance company has committed over a decade of sponsorship support to his projects. In return he has carried their name on a winning partnership with five world records amongst the list of successes. That kind of dedication from a backer is almost unheard of in any sport and has provided the financial muscle to confirm that Camas will lead the entry of boats into the Volvo Ocean Race around the world until 2015.

"Our commitment is to a race that, given its longevity on the circuit, has a human dimension and an international relevance," said Groupama Managing Director Jean Azéma. "We chose the Volvo to promote our image and share the benefit with Franck Cammas who is a sporting icon. Both of us, through the boat named Groupama, are interested in the values of building a boat, a sport and a reputation, with human interest. This is something that will last."

That huge commitment contrasts with the on-going financial struggle to enter an Irish boat. Damian, who crewed the last Irish entry, the Green Dragon, is no longer available, having been given a huge endorsement and tribute by Cammas who chose him first as an essential part of the Groupama entry.
He named the Kerryman, from Derrynane, as the first sailor he wanted aboard. Foxall, at the age of 41, is arguably the most French of Irishmen. Now resident in Lorient, he has taken part in three Volvo Ocean Races and won the last Barcelona two-crew non/stop round-the-world race with Jean-Pierre Dick.

He has been appointed to three responsibilities, as Helmsman, Trimmer and Crew Manager and is enthusiastic about going around the world for a sixth time, having also been part of a non/stop world speed record:

"I have been involved with Franck since the outset of this entry. The greatest challenge is to drive Groupama 4 at one hundred per cent of her potential at each of the nine stages of the race, with very little time during the stopovers. In a nine-month race fatigue accumulates. At the end, you really feel that you've done a circumnavigation of the globe."

Damian has worked alongside Cammas to select the sailing crew for next year's race. They include top international sailing names: Philip Harmer, Magnus Woxén, Jean-Luc Nélias, Charles Caudrelier, Sébastien Josse, Yann Riou, Jacques Caraës, Martin Krite, Brad Marsh, Martin Strömberg, Erwan Israël and Sébastien Marsset.

The Groupama project bought the winning boat in the last Volvo Race, the Volvo 70, Ericsson 4, which they rechristened, Groupama 70 and which they have been using for training. That shows their financial resources.

For the design of Groupama 4, their new boat for the 2011 event which will start next October, they turned to Juan Koujoumdjian, who was involved in building the last two winning Volvo boats, Ericsson 4 and ABN Amro One. The design is being tested in sailing trials off Lorient in Brittany where the team is based and which is Foxall's home base.

Cammas has put together a strong Groupama Sailing Team, with Foxall's input. Another Green Dragon sailor has been chosen as Pitman, Master Sailmaker and to back-up Damian as Helmsman and Trimmer. He is Australian Phil Harmer for whom this will be his third Volvo: "I feel really lucky to be in the Groupama Team. I sailed with Damian on Green Dragon and he called me to ask me to join. Since then I've had other offers, but I don't want to leave Groupama. There's a strong sense of involvement and no other team is in a position to do better."

This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation
Ireland's Damian Foxall is the first to be named officially as crew on French Yacht Groupama in the next Volvo Ocean Race that starts next year and finishes in Galway in June 2012.  As Ireland's most capped offshore racing sailor, this will be Foxall's eighth race around the world.

The Daily Sail website is reporting Foxall will take up the position of helmsman, trimmer and crew manager. More HERE.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
Top Irish offshore sailor Damian Foxall, now sailing with team Groupama in the next Volvo Ocean Race is on this weeks podcast from the VOR team. He's talking about the Route de Rhum. Find him HERE
Published in Offshore
Created and organised since 2005 by French sailor Damien Grimont, this record aims to promote safety at sea and support the volunteers, who rally together their members on a daily basis to offer assistance or emergency help to sailors.
Originally the SNSM record ran between Saint Nazaire and the pirate city of Saint Malo, but the route has since changed. This Sunday sailors will be required to race between Saint Nazaire and the pretty port of Sainte Marine, situated at the mouth of the Odet river.
Open to all types of boats measuring in excess of 6.50 metres, the record offers three courses, each of which relate to the speed of the participants and range between 180 and 360 miles.
The largest boat at the start, Groupama 70 will have to make two return trips between Saint Nazaire and Sainte Marine, as is the case for the trimaran Gitana 11 skippered by Yann Guichard.
Besides these two big names, no fewer than 56 competitors will take Sunday's start close to the port's eastern jetty between 1300 and 1400 hours local time.
Aboard Groupama 70, Franck Cammas has gathered together a large part of the crew who recently participated in the Transmanche race. Along with Jean-Luc Nélias, in charge of the navigation, we will find watch leaders Damian Foxall and Laurent Pagès, as well as Sébastien Josse, Erwan Israel, Sébastien Marsset, Yann Riou, Mike Parmenter, Philipp Harmer and Martin Krite. Another notable presence onboard comes in the form of Eurosport cameraman, Jérôme Dubarry.
Having to leave her home port of Lorient on Friday morning, Groupama 70 is expected into Saint Nazaire that same afternoon. As such the crew will, like the general public, have the opportunity to enjoy some sea rescue exercises performed by the SNSM, as well as a free concert given by the National Orchestra of the Pays de la Loire and a group called Jazz Band, who will provide an original interpretation of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite".
"More than just a competition, the SNSM record is becoming a genuine festival of the sea for sailors on all manner of boats. Its popularity is a reflection of the responsibility we feel for supporting this organisation, which gives it all without a moment's hesitation, in what are at times difficult conditions. At Groupama we're naturally sensitive to this cause, which is why we won't solely be focusing on the sporting aspect when we take the start aboard Groupama 70. This event will also give us the chance to compare our performances with those of five participating IMOCA 60s and continue our preparation for the next Volvo Ocean Race" stated Franck Cammas, who will be joining his crew on Saturday evening, once he's had time to go out on the maxi trimaran Groupama 3, which has recently been revamped for solo sailing.

The Groupama Volvo 70, with watch leader Damian Foxall, will be racing in aid of the French lifeboat service this weeken in a race created and organised since 2005 by French sailor Damien Grimont. The SNSM (Originally the Saint Nazaire St Malo) aims to promote safety at sea and support the volunteers, who rally together their members on a daily basis to offer assistance or emergency help to sailors.

Originally the SNSM record ran between Saint Nazaire and the pirate city of Saint Malo, but the route has since changed. This Sunday sailors will be required to race between Saint Nazaire and the pretty port of Sainte Marine, situated at the mouth of the Odet river.


Open to all types of boats measuring in excess of 6.50 metres, the record offers three courses, each of which relate to the speed of the participants and range between 180 and 360 miles.The largest boat at the start, Groupama 70 will have to make two return trips between Saint Nazaire and Sainte Marine, as is the case for the trimaran Gitana 11 skippered by Yann Guichard.Besides these two big names, no fewer than 56 competitors will take Sunday's start close to the port's eastern jetty between 1300 and 1400 hours local time.


Aboard Groupama 70, Franck Cammas has gathered together a large part of the crew who recently participated in the Transmanche race. Along with Jean-Luc Nélias, in charge of the navigation, we will find watch leaders Damian Foxall and Laurent Pagès, as well as Sébastien Josse, Erwan Israel, Sébastien Marsset, Yann Riou, Mike Parmenter, Philipp Harmer and Martin Krite. Another notable presence onboard comes in the form of Eurosport cameraman, Jérôme Dubarry. 


Having to leave her home port of Lorient on Friday morning, Groupama 70 is expected into Saint Nazaire that same afternoon. As such the crew will, like the general public, have the opportunity to enjoy some sea rescue exercises performed by the SNSM, as well as a free concert given by the National Orchestra of the Pays de la Loire and a group called Jazz Band, who will provide an original interpretation of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite".


"More than just a competition, the SNSM record is becoming a genuine festival of the sea for sailors on all manner of boats. Its popularity is a reflection of the responsibility we feel for supporting this organisation, which gives it all without a moment's hesitation, in what are at times difficult conditions. At Groupama we're naturally sensitive to this cause, which is why we won't solely be focusing on the sporting aspect when we take the start aboard Groupama 70. This event will also give us the chance to compare our performances with those of five participating IMOCA 60s and continue our preparation for the next Volvo Ocean Race" stated Franck Cammas, who will be joining his crew on Saturday evening, once he's had time to go out on the maxi trimaran Groupama 3, which has recently been revamped for solo sailing.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

Damian Foxall and the Groupama crew have announced that the Shetland Round Britain and Ireland forms a major part of their Volvo Ocean Race preparation.

"We are going into the Transmanche across the channel race this month and then another race in June," said Foxall, "and then we are planning and it is all built up to the Round Britain and Ireland in September.”

Foxall has been heavily involved in selecting the Groupama team for the Volvo Ocean Race, a process that is nearly complete.

“We have more or less chosen our crew,” says Foxall. “We still have to confirm one or two slots, but we’ve started sailing with most of the guys already. By the end of September we want to have signed off the crew.”

“It was very important for us not to waste time," continues Foxall. "Even though you realise that last November the race might have seemed quite a long way away, as you get into it you realise that the race is already on. We are already coming up on deadlines with regard to the design and build of the new boat, like all the other teams are.

“So the time we spend on the water now, preparing the design and filling in the gaps with regards to what we know about the current boats and where we want to go with the new boats - it is a very important stage. So right now we are making decisions that will have basically a fundament bearing on the race results.”

This mixing of cultures has extended into the technical side of the campaign, for according to Foxall they have three sailmakers who were with other VOR teams in 2008-09. “In all areas - hether it is the sails, rig, boat, etc - most of the team has experience in working in both France and on the international circuit. That is hopefully one of our strong points.

Foxall has openly expressed disappointment with his three VOR campaigns to date, but feels that Groupama skipper Franck Cammas' involvement and enthusiasm for the project shows that the race has come of age.

"I am pretty motivated. I think the important thing from my point of view is that Franck [Cammas] and the sailing team proposed to Groupama the Volvo Ocean Race as a viable event and that shows the evolution of the VOR – especially in this edition where they believe it has got marketing and sporting value and the racing will be won on the water and not just with a chequebook.”

The full interview with Damian Foxall appears on the Volvo Ocean race homepage here


Published in Volvo Ocean Race
Page 8 of 9

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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