The head-to-head battle between the British and French America’s Cup teams to decide the overall winner of the 2018 GC32 Racing Tour season went in favour of Franck Cammas’ NORAUTO squad, despite Sir Ben Ainslie’s INEOS Team UK crew dominating the final event in Toulon, France.
The two teams had gone hammer and tongs at each other over the season since Ainslie’s men joined the series for the second event of the year in Lagos, Portugal with the French prevailing with three wins and two second places compared to the Brits’ 3,1,3,1 score line.
The British team demolished the opposition at the Toulon regatta which was plagued by Mediterranean storms for several days. With five wins and no results outside the top three INEOS Team UK beat the French by a margin of 13 points.
“We’ve had a great event here in Toulon,” said Ainslie. “It is our fourth event on the GC32 Racing Tour and we have been improving over the course of the season. It is nice to finish with a win. This year we’ve been able to rotate a great number of our sailors though on this foiling multihull – all great preparation for our America’s Cup campaign.”
Despite this Cammas’ NORAUTO team went home happy as season champions after defending an eight-point lead in the overall series going into the Toulon event.
“We had a very good GC32 event in Villasimius last month,” Cammas said. “After that there was less pressure on us.
“There have been some good battles with the others throughout the year and it was never easy. We improved a bit and we had some good opponents. It is tighter than before – now even the last boat can win races.”
With the GC32 Racing Tour 2018 season now over, the British sailors will now return to their training schedule in Portsmouth where the team has been sailing T5 – a 28-foot development version of the foiling AC75 monohull the team is currently in the process of designing.
Meanwhile Cammas has set himself a deadline of the beginning of December to raise sufficient funds to mount a second America’s Cup campaign.
The French skipper – arguably France’s most well-known yachtsman – told the New Zealand Herald newspaper that he only wanted to mount an America’s Cup campaign if his team could be competitive and said the squad need until the beginning of December to work out if they will be able to do that or not.
“We are still in contact with prospects,” Cammas said. “But for now we are not going on. But we have one month to go or not to go and we want to work until the end of November for that.”
“It’s not completely dead, but we are not on the way yet.”
READ CAMMAS EYES FRENCH RETURN TO AMERICA’S CUP
Meanwhile strong rumours are abounding that the remaining members of the NORATO crew will form the basis of the France SailGP Team – trimmers Arnaud Jarlegan and Matthieu Vandame, tactician Olivier Herledant, and bowman Devan Le Bihan – which is widely slated to be led by French Nacra 17 Olympian Billy Besson.