?Volvo Open 70s smash Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Records

Alicante, Spain – 30 August 2010 – Volvo Open 70, Groupama, claimed both the race win and course record for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, yesterday (Sunday 29 August 2010) when she crossed the line at 10..26.55 (GMT). Teléfonica Azul claimed second place just over fours hours later at 15:38:09 (GMT), also well inside the old course record.

Groupama completed the 1802 mile course in 5 Days 21 Hours 26 minutes and 55 seconds, smashing the course record by 14 hours 3 minutes and 8 seconds, previously held by Open 60, Aviva.

A proud Franck Cammas, skipper of Groupama, spoke of the dramas of the race, which started early for his team, when they were hit before the start. « I definitely preferred the finish to the start, » smiled Franck Cammas. « It was difficult for us to give away five miles to Teléfonica, but very nice for all of the boats to see us charging through them in the Solent.  This race has been so helpful to Groupama. »
Cammas was using this race to train his team for the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race , he commented, « The course is like a mini Volvo Ocean Race. It has all of the different conditions that we will encounter and it has been really good to race against Teléfonica Azul. The crew has really got to know each other well and we have made some fantastic progress in our development over the last few days. Best wishes to everyone who will finish the race, it is a great achievement. »

Teléfonica Azul led the race for the first day and match raced the French boat up the east coast of Great Britain, but unfortunately for the Spanish team, a rigging problem meant they were overtaken by Groupama and never managed to catch them. Teléfonica Azul crew and Volvo Ocean Race veteran, Neal McDonald, described the moment, « The low point was having a fitting break at the top of Scotland that prevented us using our heavy weather jib for 10 hours. This allowed Groupama to get from 20 miles behind to 30 miles in front – heart breaking from a racing point of view but the sort of price you pay in these type of racing boats when things break.

« When the failure occurred it was pitch black and blowing 35 knots in a horrific seaway. But after that, it was fantastic sailing in flat water, something I’ve never experienced before around Scotland. The fastest part was just off the back of the Isle of Wight and these boats are great to sail, they’re just a big skiff. The Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland was a really fantastic race. »

Iker Martínez, skipper of Teléfonica Azul commented on the lessons they learned from this difficult race, « With the severe conditions we’ve had, we have been able to make decisions for the future and it makes us keep on thinking that we’re on the right track, » said the Olympic medallist. « We’ve been able to compare the last months’ work well, so we’re happy about it ».