France’s Groupama completed a heroic comeback victory on Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Friday, strengthening their grip on the overall standings and realising a dream homecoming to the port of Lorient.
Franck Cammas and his men were cheered by thousands of fans on the Brittany coast after crossing the Leg 8 finish line at their home port at 13:31:04 local, 11:31:04 UTC, with an elapsed time of four days, 23 hours, 31 minutes and four seconds.
CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand finished second at 14:30:09 local, 12:30:09 UTC, earning 25 points. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG finished at 12:43:04 UTC, scoring 20 points and moving into second place overall. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing finished fourth at 14:17:25 UTC.
Groupama earn 30 points, extending their advantage over Telefónica, whose own victory hopes were dashed when they broke a second rudder while leading overnight.
“It was a short leg, but it was a hard leg,” skipper Franck Cammas said while surrounded by thousands of fans on the docks at Lorient. “It is a very good feeling for sure, it is a dream we had 10 months ago and we arrive with a win now.”
It is an impressive comeback for Groupama who dropped to fourth place just two days ago when their mainsail jammed and the team spent a costly two hours with bowman Brad Marsh at the top of the 31-metre mast effecting repairs in storm conditions.
But the never-say-die crew fought back to reclaim the lead less than 12-hours before the finish with blistering pace in the North Atlantic low pressure system that packed 45 knots winds and four metre waves.
The French team’s victory hopes were bolstered by the misfortune of their arch-rivals Telefónica as the Spanish team were forced to slow to survival speeds after breaking both their rudders on the furious run to the finish.
Telefónica skipper Iker Martínez said the damage had effectively ended their chances of overall victory, with Groupama now enjoying a significant lead with just one leg and two in-port races remaining.
As the crew of the top four teams celebrate with the French fans, the remaining two continue to race, with Team Telefónica currently in fifth place and Team Sanya sixth.