Please select your home edition
Edition
Lennon Thermalite 728x90 1
Product Feature
Technical Marine Supplies - Trogear Adjustable Bowsprits
Technical Marine Supplies - Trogear Adjustable Bowsprits

Groupama Race 2016 - Safety is top priority

by Matthias Balagny 31 Aug 2016 14:32 BST 25 September 2016

170 sailors will be on the starting line on the 25th September for a 654 nautical mile race around New Caledonia. Running (with the wind behind) in sometimes breath-taking seas, or beating to windward against the swell.

The Groupama Race is not to be undertaken lightly. The participants spend months preparing themselves and their yachts for a physical and mental challenge. All year, Nouméa Yacht Club (CNC) and its Sailing Section, with support from other establishments (the French Lifeboat Service {SNSM}, the Professional Mariners College {EMM}, the MRCC, the Maritime Gendarmerie and the French Navy) organise training races, sea safety courses and man-overboard exercises.

Once the race has started, the hardened racing crews can thus adapt their race strategy and fine-tune their sail trim without having to worry about the preparedness of their yacht or the crew's capabilities.

All over the World, ocean races are subject to World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations. Nouméa Yacht Club (CNC) applies this standard to its own high seas competitions. Thus, the Groupama Race is an OSR category 3 race with the addition of a compulsory liferaft. Once a competing yacht is pronounced ready, a duly accredited inspector undertakes a thorough safety check and approves – or not – the vessel's compliance. All of the ship board communications equipment is checked: satellite phones, position reporting beacons and IDs of each personal location beacon (PLBs transmit the position of a man-overboard). The aim is to keep in touch.

Crews in the Groupama Race are taking part in a trying race. To be faster than the rest, crews will continuously push their yachts and themselves as far as possible. Crews are competitors but they are also representing sailing in New Caledonia. The race organisers want participants to present a positive sea-safety message.

So, Nouméa Yacht Club (CNC) and Groupama Pacifique require lifejackets to be worn at all times, over the whole race course, by day and by night. This requirement is sometimes subject to negative criticism. But it is no surprise to François Gabart, winner of the last Vendée Globe. He makes a favourable comparison between the lifejacket and car seatbelts. French drivers have been required to buckle-up since 1973!

Right from the first edition of this race, organisers have made the wearing of a lifejacket an unconditional requirement! For the last two races, a PLB must be attached to the lifejacket.

Another sea safety requirement – a man overboard exercise under spinnaker has become a classic part of Groupama Race preparations. Every entrant has to have completed the exercise before the start of the race. For New Caledonian entrants, the man overboard exercise is to take place on Saturday the 3rd September, in the presence of the Nouméa inshore lifeboat. Completing this exercise will make it easier for crew members to find their way smoothly in the event of the real thing.

Under the impetus of the Groupama Race and the Nouméa Yacht Club, the Professional Mariners College (EMM), jointly with the French Lifeboat Service (SNSM), offer a World Sailing (formerly ISAF) Sea Safety course. As for the Volvo Ocean Race or the Rolex Sydney Hobart, 30% of the crew of every yacht competing in the New Caledonia Groupama Race must have this qualification.

Qualification means a certificate that is valid worldwide for five years. The course is a mixture of classroom and practical, hands-on, sessions. Maintenance of safety equipment, storm sails, heavy weather sailing, damage control and repair, liferafts, fire extinguishers, flares, sea anchors are amongst the subjects of this course that takes a little over twenty hours. In evenings, or over a weekend, sailors study sea safety, yacht equipment and their limitations and relate their own experiences.

At least one crew member will also have completed a first aid at sea course. The principal aims of this course are to make a reliable assessment, to make contact (if possible) with the shore and apply the appropriate simple techniques to the patient.

The twenty or so entries will be tracked in real time, their positions being reported by satellite every five minutes. This will enable everyone to follow the race. In addition, any emergency action will be much facilitated by having an accurate position.

www.groupamarace.nc

Related Articles

Entries for Groupama feeder races climbing
Four races from around New Caledonia Four feeder races delivering yacht fleets from three Australian capital cities and Auckland, New Zealand, will be a key component when it comes to the ultimate Groupama Race around New Caledonia starting line-up. Posted on 5 Nov 2017
Groupama Race 2018
The world's longest windward/leeward race Though considered a race in paradise, like previous editions the sixth biennial Groupama Race around the island of Noumea will prove tactically difficult for all crews who accept the challenge. Posted on 9 Sep 2017
New chapter in 2018
For the New Caledonia Groupama Race Four feeder races making up Sail Noumea 2018 and a change of date for the start of the 654 nautical mile Groupama Race around the island of New Caledonia mark an exciting new chapter for the beautiful French Pacific Island sailing event. Posted on 24 Jun 2017
New monohull record
In the New Caledonia Groupama Race Scallywag, the longest monohull, is also the fastest boat to sail around New-Caledonia. She takes only 2 days, 13 hours, 19 min and 55s. Thus, she has established a new record for monohulls. Posted on 28 Sep 2016
2 days 33 minutes 12 seconds
Around the biggest lagoon in the world Vodafone has arrived in Nouméa after 2 days of racing. She is the fastest boat to finish the New Caledonia longest windward / leeward race. Posted on 27 Sep 2016
New Caledonia Groupama Race start
19 sailing yachts leave Baie des Citrons in Noumea 19 sailing yachts took the departure at 10am on Sunday 25 September from Baie des Citrons, in Noumea. More than 100 boats, stand up paddles, catamarans and a thousand of people attended the departure, under an unusually west wind around 10 to 12 knots. Posted on 26 Sep 2016
12 entries for Groupama Race already
The world's longest Olympic course starts in September With one month left for expressions of interest, 12 yachts have announced their intention to take part in a race over the World's longest Olympic course. Small or big, mono- or multi-hull, all will be on the start-line. Posted on 5 Apr 2016
Everyone will have a chance
5th Groupama Race opens crew exchange With less than nine months to go, the first expression of interest are in. Courrier Léon renamed Léon-Banque de Nouvelle-Calédonie, second overall in the last Sydney-Hobart has entered. Posted on 14 Feb 2016
New Caledonia Groupama Race
Set to start on 19 October 2014 The 4th Sailing Tour of New Caledonia will start on 19th October 2014. Weather forecasting stragegy and the physical fitness of the crews will play an important role in securing victory. Take part in the longest windward-leeward race in the world! Posted on 18 Jan 2014