Front-runners Groupama will start today's Bretagne In-Port Race with a target on their backs, with the inshore series heading right to the wire and overall victory far from a foregone conclusion.
“This is an important one. The closer we get to the end of the race the more important the points are" - Franck Cammas, Groupama
Groupama sailing team are 23 points clear of their nearest rivals PUMA on the overall race leaderboard with two in-port races and one offshore leg to go before the finish in Galway. CAMPER and Telefónica remain within striking distance, both 28 points behind.
The secondary battle for the in-port series is even closer with PUMA leading on 35 points, followed by CAMPER with 34, Abu Dhabi, 33 and Groupama, 32.
As the race nears its end the importance the few remaining points is increasing and weighing heavily on the minds and shoulders of the skippers.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG skipper Ken Read his team were under immense pressure to win their first in-port race and remain at the top of the in-port tally, while closing the gap on Groupama overall.
“We have to put some points on Groupama for sure,’’ he said. “I doubt they are going to have many friends on the racecourse right now, when there are three guys within fighting distance at least of them. If that is the case then somebody has got to get ahead and why not us?”
Groupama skipper Franck Cammas has been pushing his men hard in intense training sessions in Lorient’s Port Foll in recent days in a bid to thwart any threats to their hard-fought race lead.
Cammas said he had been focused on practising the starting sequence, especially as he expected no advantage from racing in his team’s home waters, where a 16 to 24 knot westerly is expected.
“This is an important one,’’ he said. “The closer we get to the end of the race the more important the points are. This is the third race before the end; we have three starts left, including this and we have been training for that.
“Sadly, I don’t think we will have such an advantage from racing in Lorient. We will as usual have to focus on manoeuvres and the start and being in Lorient doesn’t affect these factors.”
While winning is more important than ever before, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Chris Nicholson said it was vital not to let all thoughts stray to the points situation.
The Australian skipper said he was looking to his team to remain focused on the racing at hand and step-up to claim their second in-port win, and a potential six points for first place.
“At this stage of the race with so many things going on there is a lot of tired people in all the programmes and I think that if you can just keep on doing what you have been doing, that may well step you up against the others.”
Team Telefónica are also hoping to step-up, having finished last in the past four in-port races and slipped down the rankings from the lofty position they held thanks to winning the first three offshore legs. Skipper Iker Martínez said his men could not dwell on the past if they were to have any chance of success in the future.
“I think I’m going to be disappointed every time I think about it, but we cannot stay thinking of that all the time,’’ he said.
"In-port races aren’t the best for us, we don’t have an easy boat for that, and we don’t have very good our crew work. But if we do something good we can have a good race. Every day racing is an important day.”
On board Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam skipper Ian Walker will be working to avoid any on-water trouble as they seek a return to the top of the in-port series ladder.
Walker said it was all about gaining the jump from the start and then keeping it clean. “This is our strong suit, so I expect to do well,’’ he said.
Team Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson knows he has a point to prove, as they are yet to reach their goal of winning at least one podium finish.
Sanderson said his team would take more risks in their bid to mount the podium, while admitting it’s not as simple as it sounds.
“We have to be very conscious because the last thing we want to do is upset things at the top from a contact or collision point of view,” he said. “On one side we have to be very responsible and on the other side we have to be very brave.”
The Bretagne In-Port Race starts at 1302 local, 1102 UTC, ahead of the start of the Leg 9 race to Galway, Ireland at the same time on Sunday.
Six points up for grabs for first place in the in-port race, five for second and so on down to one point for sixth. Victory in the final offshore leg carries 30 points, with 25 for second, 20 for third and so on down to five points for sixth.
- 1 Jul 2012Resurgent Telefónica lead fleet out on final leg
- 30 Jun 2012Dock talk: Bretagne In-Port Race
- 30 Jun 2012Groupama close in on victory with Bretagne In-Port success
- 30 Jun 2012Bretagne In-Port Race crew lists
- 27 Feb 2012Groupama keep gaining in race for trades
- 27 Feb 2012Cammas piles praise on navigator as Groupama stride out