by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller
Since Monday afternoon and the damage suffered to the section joining the aft beam and the port float, the crew of Groupama 3 have submitted, but they're certainly not giving up. On the run barepoled in big seas, southbound, Franck and his men are attempting to preserve the structural integrity of the maxi trimaran by limiting the amount of impact. Inside the damaged float, Lionel Lemonchois and Thomas Coville are dressing the wound. They have a single aim right now, that of heading eastward towards South Africa.
1,760 miles (3,100 kms) ahead of her bows, land is still a long way off but the men are close: "The crew, always highly professional, have once again handled the situation impeccably, without a hint of defeatism or slackening, racking their brains to get out of this faux pas as soon as possible" wrote the skipper of Groupama 3 early this morning.
Whilst Stan Honey and Franck are at the chart table refining the strategy with Sylvain Mondon for avoiding the worst of the gales sweeping across the Southern Atlantic, the other crew members are busy working in the bowels of the float.
Guided by the boat captain, Loïc Le Mignon, who knows Groupama 3 inside out, Lionel Lemonchois and Thomas Coville are covering the faulty bulkhead with a carbon splint. "Will it hold as far as Cape Town?" asks Loïc. And Lionel replies "Ideally, it should hold as far as Brest, but there's no guarantees as far as that's concerned".
On their faces, you don't have to be an expert to read the disappointment and frustration: "It's a pain in the arse..." says Fred Le Peutrec simply, whils Bruno Jeanjean adds "It's massively frustrating; our thoughts go to everyone working on the project".
At 0500 UT Tuesday morning, under reduced sail area, Groupama 3 was making headway at eleven knots, heading 118.
Cammas - Groupama