Groupama Team France have given Franck Cammas their “unfailing support” as he begins his recovery from the training accident that nearly cost him his right foot.
The Team France skipper underwent successful surgery yesterday at the University Hospital Hôtel Dieu in Nantes, where orthopedic surgeons operated on him for several hours.
Cammas was hurt on Monday 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.
The GC32s are the new boat for the Extreme Sailing Series. The 18ft boats are far smaller than catamarans used in the America’s Cup World Series.
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 are hopeful he can resume competing at some point next year, although only after “a long period of rehabilitation” — appearing to rule him out of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“Firstly, we’re extremely relieved to learn that Franck won’t lose the use of his right foot,” said Thierry Martel, of Groupama, who has known Cammas since 1998.
“The coming months are likely to be tough at times for a sailor who sails nearly 320 days a year. However, we’re confident that Franck will take up the gauntlet with his familiar fighting spirit.
“He can count on our unfailing support. A genuine relationship of trust has been established between Franck and Groupama, armed by an eighteen-year partnership.
“We will remain loyal to him as he has always been to us and we’re certain that he’ll come out of this even stronger than before.”
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.
However, Martel said that he trusted the rest of the team to continue preparing to challenge for the 35th America’s Cup.
In a statement yesterday, the French team said that they expected to have their skipper back to lead the challenge.
“It’s hard to find the words in times of crisis like those we’ve been experiencing since yesterday,” Bruno Dubois, the Groupama Team France manager, said.
“We’re working hard to make up the deficit we have in relation to the other teams, and there’s still a long way to go before the first events in Bermuda in 2017.
“We will keep the focus on our common goals and naturally we hope to see Franck back at the helm very soon”.
Monday’s accident occured when Cammas and Minoprio were duelling in rival boats as they mimicked match racing conditions.
In the final race of the day, Cammas’ boat was moving towards the start line in around 18 knots of wind.
According to Team France, as the catamaran accelerated away on her foils, Cammas was thrown off balance, fell overboard, and was struck by the rudder on the leeward hull.
“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.
With an open fracture at the bottom of his right tibia, Cammas was immediately rescued by Bertrand Pacé, the team’s coach, in the the safety boat which accompanied the two boats during their America’s Cup training in the Bay of Quiberon.
It took 12 minutes for the emergency services to arrive once Cammas was onshore, and another 30 minutes before he was airlifted to hospital in Nantes.
The 42-year-old sailor, who participated in October’s Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Bermuda, 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 novice sailor Johannes Wiebel.
Cammas is no stranger to adventure, and his sailing resume 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.
This story appeared in The Royal Gazette on December 2nd, 2015.