Franck CAMMAS accepted our invitation to take the helm of the PILOT SALOON 42 the last WAUQUIEZ Yacht shown for the first time afloat at the Cannes Yachting Festival.
Rendez-vous is taken in the Venice of the Riviera on Friday morning, four days before the opening of the Cannes Yachting Festival. In front of the bow of the Pilot Saloon 42, thirty little miles to follow the rocky coast of Esterel. The weather of the day: light wind, calm sea, with possibility of a thermal wind later in the day. Franck, between two bike trainings, seems delighted to be on the water. One would have thought that this pro of the machines which flies up to 40 knots perched on foils would be quickly bored aboard a pure cruiser ... it is not the case: the sailor is interested in the accommodations and the equipment of our Pilot Saloon 42. On the menu, the panoramic windows with electric dimming glasses, the latest technology in management system (energy, tank etc.) that can be monitored from a smartphone or a tablet and of course the magnificent aft cabin. Here we are far from the rustic bunk of the VOR 70 Groupama 4, whch he won the Volvo Race with . "But what happens when the boat is heeling ? “, he worries. No problem, anti-roll fabrics are delivered in series!
A professional who enjoy to maximise performance.
Our journey begins across the gulf of Saint-Tropez, motoring with mainsail flat - no wind ! Franck is already at the helm, on the lookout for the gusts of wind. When we get 8 knots at the windmeter, the skipper quickly checked that the value is the same on the apparent wind ... verdict, propeller of the speedo fouled! The wind comes in slowly, but right in the nose. To unroll the genoa! The PS 42 starts beating upwind, quickly optimized by Franck: "We will ease the genoa if we center the clew". The choice: use a short sheet or simply harden the counter-sheet; we choose the second formula. The propeller with foldable blades is quickly stopped; a reverse gear puts it in sail position, with a minimum drag. To the question of whether it is more interesting to block or not a fixed propeller, Franck knows the answer: "It goes faster when the propeller is free, but it is not good for the gear box".
Along the coast for a cross-shore wind.
The skipper evaluates the water and suggests we get closer to the shore, which means to push our starboard tack: "Near the coast, the thermal effect should be more perpendicular to the shore line, the wind will probably be stronger”. A phenomenon that the skipper was able to validate during his victorious Tour de France at La Voile, four years ago. And it works: the wind takes 20 degrees right. So, the temptation is great to boost speed with the gennaker. Franck is already on the foredeck ready to participate in the maneuver. The surface of the sail is much higher - 72 square meters against 43.5 for the genoa - we get nearly two knots of extra speed and the GPS shows now 6 to 6.5 knots. As for heading, the PS 42 only drops 5 degrees; the gennaker is a real plus upwind in light air. A little extra halyard tension significantly improves the performance of the flat lined sail. There remains the tacks: we roll and we unroll the sail. An operation that does not upset Franck, on the contrary, always quick to turn the winch handle vigorously! The sun is at its zenith; the crew share potluck sandwiches and drinks - we almost forget that our host is Knight of the French Legion of Honor.
Smooth helm and sailing pleasure.
We take advantage of the coast to discover the small coves that cuts the Esterel massif. The skipper even recognizes the beach where he spent his child holidays with his parents. Born in Aix-en-Provence, Franck became passionate about sailing at the age of 10 when he read classics such as Éric Tabarly's “Pen Duick VI around the globe”. And it is also on board this former racer that the sailor discovered last summer South West Greenland. Proof that cruising and adventure do not displease Franck; in 2015, assisted by an amateur teammate, he managed to double Cape Horn aboard a 20 foot foil catamaran. "I generally prefer high latitudes to tropical regions. It is quieter, the landscapes and the various lights, the omnipresent wildlife ... ". In view of the Lerins Islands, the wind is coming, allowing us to stay on course to the entrance of the Old Port of Cannes. Franck's impressions on the spot about this sailing aboard the Pilot Saloon 42: "She is quite alive, we could use the gennaker upwind, it's a big code 0, a big genoa. The boat, with less than 10 knots of wind, is already accelerating and heeling, she offers sensations at the helm. It is rather rare on cruise ships and it’s a good point if cruising sailboats offers pleasure to sail! The helm is soft, the boat is responsive ... well, I would have liked to have more wind, 25 knots downwind, to see what the Pilot Saloon 42 has in the belly! But the report in little airs is already very positive. "
Promised Franck, we order more wind next time!