Friday, 13 April 2012

Groupama overcomes broken mast to take third place

Groupama sailing under jury rig approaches the finish line
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race

Groupama’s leg 5 podium finish, after their mast snapped in two 60 nautical miles east of Punta del Este, took nothing but gritty resilience from the French team.

It would have been so easy to throw in the towel, but with the chance of third place and 20 points, it was a mission worth fighting for.

Once safely on the dock, skipper Franck Cammas said: The guys all did a fantastic job and I am very happy with our podium place - we're still right in this race."

Twisted rigging
They were very positive words bearing in mind that just six days before, they were trading places with the leader, Puma for victory on this leg.

When it happened the mission was to make the boat safe and prevent any more damage occurring.

Having carbon splinters, twisted rigging and heavy sail cloth everywhere is not the easiest mess to clean up.

Crew member injured
As it was bowman Brad Marsh managed to stab himself in the wrist while cutting away the mainsail from the broken mast.

The team medic had to immediately attend to Brad’s injury by using five medical staples to hold the wound together.

They suspended racing and made for the nearby port of Punta del Este to assess their options.

Good speeds
One section of the broken mast was long enough to step again and hoist up two-thirds of a mainsail and fly a headsail.

After restarting their leg and getting underway they reported good speeds with the jury rig.

Frank Cammas said: "Our technical goal was to use the top part of the mast  that we managed to bring back after the incident - which is a tube of almost 20 metres.

Jealous sailor
“But we had to create a whole new rig in 24 hours, with limited means, using only the materials we had.

"The result, with more than 100 square metres of sail area, isn’t ugly and could even make a sailor on La Trinité sur Mer jealous.

“Fingers crossed for it to make it through, because the supporting cables aren’t really adapted to this new function. At least for now, this jury rig is fully satisfying with a surf at more than 20 knots.”

Great comment
I read a great comment from Doug Baker from the UK on my facebook page ‘Still faster with a jury rig than most will ever have travelled in a sail boat’.

The news from the ongoing leg 5 is Puma claimed first, then overall leader Telefónica took second with the tenacious Groupama salvaging third.

Camper with Team New Zealand crew are still sailing to Itajaí with 1,200 nautical miles to go. This epic leg 5 feels like the leg that never ends.

Shipped for repairs
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing retired from Leg 5 due to hull damage. Azzam departed on a ship from Puerto Montt, Chile to Itajaí.

Team Sanya retired from Leg 5, returned to New Zealand - the yacht is being shipped to Savannah for repairs and then will sailed to Miami to rejoin the race.

Mark Covell

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