Cup skipper faces long road to recovery
Franck Cammas, the Groupama Team France skipper, has undergone successful surgery after nearly losing a foot in a training accident.
The French team said today that Cammas will be sidelined for several weeks before he starts his long road to rehabilitation next month.
Cammas was hurt yesterday when he fell off a GC32 catamaran during training in the waters just off Brittany, north-west France, and was hit by the rudder at full speed, leaving his right foot partially severed.
“Thanks to all of you. These messages touch my heart and give me even more courage to come back as soon as possible,” Cammas said on the team's website.
Following the operation, doctors told Cammas that he would not lose the use of his right foot, and that the arteries and nerves had not been impacted.
His team is hopeful he can resume competing at some point next year, although only after “a long period of rehabilitation” — appearing to rule him out of next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“Words aren't easy to find in times of crisis,” Bruno Dubois, the Groupama Team France manager, said. “We'll keep focusing on our common goals. Of course I hope to see Franck back at the helm as soon as possible.”
The loss of Cammas for an extended period of time would a big blow to the America's Cup challenger, who have Adam Minoprio, from New Zealand, as their back-up helsman. Team France finished a distant last in this year's three Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Regattas.
The GC32s are the new boat for the Extreme Sailing Series. The boats are smaller than the 45-foot catamarans used in the America's Cup World Series.
When foiling catamarans reach a certain speed, they rise up on the rudders and daggerboards, with the hulls completely out of the water to increase speed.
“In a wind of around 20 knots, and while he was at the helm, Cammas went overboard and struck the rudder with his right leg while the hydrofoil catamaran was launched at full speed,” Groupama Team France said in a statement yesterday.
With an open fracture at the bottom of his right tibia, Cammas was immediately rescued by the safety boat, which accompanied the two boats during training, and airlifted to hospital in Nantes by helicopter.
“Our thoughts are with Franck, his family, and the rest of Groupama Team France,” fellow America's Cup challenger Artemis Racing said in a statement.
Oracle Team USA echoed those sentiments in a Twitter posting, saying they were “wishing the best to our friend Franck Cammas”.
The 42-year-old, who participated in the World Series in Bermuda in October, recently made headlines for all the right reasons after becoming the first sailor to foil around Cape Horn in a Nacra F20 catamaran, accompanied by the novice Johannes Wiebel.
Cammas is no stranger to adventure, as his sailing résumé is littered with offshore achievements, including a Jules Verne title for the fastest circumnavigation, winning the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race and setting a plethora of offshore speed records.
The distinguished sailor revealed in an interview with The Royal Gazette this year how much it would mean to him to win the trophy that has so far eluded him — the America's Cup.
“It's like Mount Everest, when you are climbing a mountain you always want to go higher and higher and the America's Cup is the top,” Cammas said. “It's very hard to get to the top but I still have time to do that.
“The America's Cup is the pinnacle of the sailing world. It's competing against the best teams in the world and I am happy to be in the game.”
Groupama Team France announced their challenge for the “Auld Mug” with Yacht Club de France in Paris late last year.
“France is a big country in terms of sailing,” Cammas said. “We have very good sailors and engineers and we have to find a good way to work together with a good casting.
“That's what we are doing now and the goal is to be good and fast in two years in Bermuda.”