So after a half-hearted first day, the Gitana Team seemed a bit more sprightly on Saturday morning when the SW breeze kicked in. At one point, the wind even picked up to around 15 knots 10 metres above the water, the boats reaching speeds of around 15 knots. Crew morale picked up too. There was even a traffic jam on the starting line, a remarkably well timed start it was too from Pascal Bidégorry who aimed for the fresher breeze mid-line. Franck Cammas cramped the style of Armel Le Cléac'h and Thierry Duprey du Vorsent forcing them to hug the committee boat. Meanwhile at the other end of the line, Frédéric Le Peutrec was fetching and as regular as clockwork, on the port tack, but as the stand-on yacht – thus not having right of way – let the whole of the fleet through to head for the lay line, the edge of the course. The aim is to have just one change of tack to do and reach the windward offset mark of the coastal course, comprising two laps of a sort of triangular shaped course off Fécamp and Yport.
Two laps which took longer to get round than expected as the wind had checked out by the time the fleet was well into the race. Meanwhile an incoming tidal current had started to make its presence felt on the course where the surface had become a little choppy, with wind holes becoming increasingly frequent.
Groupama-2, Foncia and Gitana 11 were bumper-to-bumper at the first mark. By the time they were ready to raise the gennaker after the Yport mark, Frédéric Le Peutrec managed to cover Armel Le Cléac'h who preferred to gybe immediately. The manoeuvre between the two boats played into Franck Cammas' hands. Time then for him to free himself of the pressure of the follower and move into a true leading position with the wind right behind him in every sense of the term. The battle for second place was far from played out as at one moment, some unsteady wind would favour trimarans who had headed away from the coast, and another would go in favour of those who hugged the cliff-lined coast. Pascal Bidégorry came out tops, taking second at the leeward mark on the first lap of the course.
The hierarchy was such as there was no choice but to respect the established order right up to the finishing line. Gitana 11 held onto her third place behind Groupama-2 and Banque Populaire whereas Gitana X just could not keep up in such variable conditions. Franck Cammas is looking untouchable yet again. The battle for second and third is going to be a bitter one. If the wind picks up at least. In the middle of the afternoon, after patiently waiting for three hours desperately hoping for a puff of wind to show up, there was just no way it was even worth thinking about firing a shot for a second course
Rankings – Round 4:
1- Franck Cammas (Groupama-2)
2- Pascal Bidégorry (Banque Populaire)
3- Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11)
4- Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant)
5- Armel Le Cléac'h (Foncia)
6- Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana X)
Round 4 : SW (230°) 15 knots decreasing 10 then 5 knots, start of the incoming tide, coastal course n°3 (offset buoy at 1 ½ miles), triangle between Fécamp and Yport, finish of Fécamp.
Provisional rankings - Grand Prix du port de Fécamp over four rounds:
1- Franck Cammas - Groupama-2 (1+1+1+1) 4 points
2- Armel Le Cléac'h – Foncia (2+2+4+5) 13 points
3- Pascal Bidégorry - Banque Populaire (3+4+5+2) 14 points
4- Michel Desjoyeaux – Géant (5+3+2+4) 14 points
5- Frédéric Le Peutrec - Gitana 11 (4+6+3+3) 16 points
6- Thierry Duprey du Vorsent - Gitana X (6+5+6+6) 23 points