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Displaying items by tag: Route du Rhumm

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.


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:

Published in Island Nation

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.


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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