Groupama grabbed a dream home victory in the Bretagne In-Port Race on Saturday to move 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 led the whole race before losing the lead to the hometown heroes shortly before the end.
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 was snatched from their grip by a blunder with their jib.
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, 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.
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, with Groupama claiming 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.
- 7 Jul 2012PUMA pounce to win In-Port Series
- 3 Jul 2012Groupama complete victory after epic journey
- 1 Jul 2012Resurgent Telefónica lead fleet out on final leg
- 30 Jun 2012Dock talk: Bretagne In-Port Race
- 30 Jun 2012Bretagne In-Port Race crew lists
- 30 Jun 2012Rivals target Groupama in tight inshore scrap