It was in December 2004 that Groupama announced the construction of a giant trimaran to attempt to smash the major ocean records, with as a climax the legendary Jules Verne Trophy. At a time when the arms race was on, Groupama wanted to design a boat of a reasonable size, the smallest trimaran capable of beating Orange II. Franck Cammas and his team opted for a length of 31.50 metres (105 feet) designed by the designers, Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot-Prévost. The construction of Groupama 3 began in 2005 at the Multiplast yard in Vannes. After almost 130,000 hours of work, the boat was launched on 7th June 2006. “We decided to come up with a trimaran with average power,” stressed Cammas when he presented his project. “Groupama 3 is light, but nevertheless long enough to be safe in the Southern Ocean. The power comes from her width, while the light weight is the result of a lot of work on the structure, a reasoned approach to choosing the gear and fittings, as well as careful attention during the construction process.” Groupama 3 had an innovative concept inspired by the 60-foot Orma trimarans (including Groupama 2) as well as the previous giants, which were heavier and designed for the Southern Ocean. While Orange II (36.80 metres) was to be feared in heavy seas, she struggled in light airs and moderate conditions. Groupama 3 was a much better all-rounder: she sailed quickly in heavy weather, while was much more at ease in lighter conditions. Another new feature: Groupama 3 was the first big multihull to set off around the world with foils, a concept previously used by the Orma triamarans, but only in the Atlantic.
- Architects: VPLP team (Van Péteghem-Lauriot Prévost)
- Previous names: Groupama 3, Banque Populaire VII
- Length: 31.50 m
- Beam: 22.50 m
- Displacement: 18,000 kg
- Draught: 5.70 m
- Mast height: 33.50 m
- Structure: carbon-Nomex
- Upwind sail surface: 411 m2
- Downwind sail surface: 678 m2
- Initial launch date: June 2006
Misfortunes and good fortune in the Jules Verne Trophy
Before tackling the Jules Verne Trophy, Cammas and his crew carried out a record campaign in the Atlantic with several successes: the Columbus Route (Cadiz-San Salvador) in May 2007, Miami-New York in June 2007, the North Atlantic record and the 24-hour record in July. After these successes, Groupama 3 was ready to take up the huge challenge for which she had been designed and built. On 24th January 2008, the trimaran set off on her first attempt. But on 18th February, Groupama 3 capsized off New Zealand, at a point when she had a lead of one day over the reference time set by Orange II. The crew was quickly rescued and the boat was towed and brought back to France. There had been a lot of damage, but after a lot of work in the yard, Groupama 3 was rebuilt as she had been before using the same moulds. On 5th November 2009, the multihull was ready to give it a second go. Structural damage (a break in the connection between the rear beam and the port float) off South Africa was soon to shatter Cammas and his crew’s hopes. The third attempt would be the right one: on 31st January 2010, with a few days to go to the official conclusion of the stand-by period, Groupama 3 cast off to give it one more go, although it was looking tricky as the weather was far from ideal. For a long time behind the reference time set by Orange II in 2005 (50 days 16 hours 20 minutes and 4 seconds), Groupama 3 went on to smash the Jules Verne Trophy record thanks to an incredible final stretch after crossing the Equator and before reaching the finish. On 20th March, Cammas and his men achieved a new record time of 48 days 7 hours 44 minutes and 52 seconds. They became the seventh holders of the Jules Verne Trophy, which started in 1993.
Two wins for the boat in the Route du Rhum
Once again in 2010, Franck Cammas took up a challenge that many people thought was impossible or at the very least extremely complicated, as he was aiming to win the Route du Rhum sailing alone on his 31.5m maxi trimaran, fitted with a shorter mast and a more suitable deck layout. Cammas’s performance was truly amazing. After 9 days 3 hours 14 minutes and 47 seconds of sailing, he came in first in Pointe-à-Pitre ahead of Francis Joyon and Thomas Coville. The boat was then bought and became Banque Populaire VII. Relaunched on 15th April 2013 in Lorient, the boat added more successes to her list of achievements in the hands of Armel Le Cléac’h, who smashed several solo records aboard her: the Mediterranean record, the Columbus Route record and the greatest distance sailed in 24 hours (682 miles). Suffering from an injured hand, Armel Le Cléac’h was forced to step down from the Route du Rhum and was replaced at the last moment by Loïck Peyron at the helm of the maxi trimaran, the title-holder in the prestigious transatlantic race. After a fantastic race, Peyron won the tenth edition of the Route du Rhum with a time of 7 days, 15 hours 8 minutes and 32 seconds – a new race record! Now in the colours of IDEC SPORT with Francis Joyon at the helm, the maxi trimaran has not yet finished harvesting successes…
What the designers have to say
Xavier Guilbaud, designer with the VPLP team gives us his point of view: “IDEC SPORT can certainly beat Spindrift 2 and win the Jules Verne Trophy.” Designer with the VPLP team, Xavier Guilbaud gives us his point of view about the clash between IDEC SPORT (31.50 m) and the giant Spindrift 2 (ex Banque Populaire V, 40 m) which is set to occur in the autumn as they attempt to win the Jules Verne Trophy.
“Spindrift 2 and IDEC SPORT will both be on stand-by in the autumn for the Jules Verne Trophy. It’s going to be fascinating to watch the battle between the two teams. In one corner, we have an extremely powerful boat and in the other a “moped” sailed by a short-handed crew. The idea of IDEC SPORT winning is certainly a possibility. Light and easy to handle with her small rig, the boat is at ease in transition zones. She could really shine during the trip down and back up the Atlantic. IDEC SPORT will on the other hand be handicapped when the wind is blowing at less than ten knots, but that shouldn’t happen very often at all in the Jules Verne Trophy voyage. In the Southern Ocean, if the two boats experience the same conditions, there won’t be much between them. IDEC SPORT is a safe boat which you can push hard without worrying. Having said that, Spindrift 2 has had a lot of work done on her and will be a serious competitor. On paper, she should be faster than when she was in the colours of Banque Populaire V. It is possible for IDEC SPORT and Spindrift 2 to beat BP V’s 45 days. The bar has been placed high, to a point where the weather is going to be the deciding factor. At the start of the Jules Verne Trophy, we can get a clear vision of the weather situation down to the Cape of Good Hope and the entrance into the Southern Ocean. But after that, we’re into the unknown. The record is often decided on the way back up the Atlantic, so there’s a certain amount of luck involved…”