by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller
It was this Saturday morning at 0600 UTC that the trimaran Groupama 3 cast off from the port of Cape Town, South Africa, bound for Brest some 6,000 miles (11,000 kms) away, where she will begin her second period of stand-by for the Jules Verne Trophy.
Skippered by Fred Le Peutrec and sailed by a total crew of 10, Groupama 3 has thus completed her South Africa stopover. In all it has taken no less than three weeks for the maxi trimaran to be operational once again after suffering damage in the Southern Atlantic, at a point where the crew were ahead of the reference time for the Jules Verne Trophy set by Orange in 2005.
Indeed once the float bulkhead was repaired and then reinforced by the Groupama team's shore crew, with the assistance of a handful of South African's from Team Shosholoza, it was the generator which was to give up the ghost. Forced to order a new unit from France and have it transported down to Cape Town by plane, the crew of Groupama 3 had no option but to wait patiently in Cape Town and attend the live draw for the World Cup football.
"All that is behind us today and all ten of us are delighted to be at sea again. We had to get free of the coast to find the wind, which has enabled us to retension the rig. We've done that and we're now sailing under two reef mainsail and staysail in a 25 to 28 knot SE'ly making the equivalent boat speed" explains Fred Le Peutrec, who in the absence of Franck Cammas, has taken on responsibility for Groupama 3.
Of the ten crew who were aboard for the Jules Verne Trophy attempt, three are onboard for this delivery trip with Ronan Le Goff and Jacques Caraës accompanying Fred: "At the moment Ludovic Aglaor is at the helm with Ronan and Clément Surtel alongside. He's just finding his way around Groupama 3 after a successful Jules Verne back in 2005 on Orange 2. We also have some new faces aboard including Mayeul Rifflet, who is replacing Lionel Lemonchois, as well as Nick Legatt and Thierry Duprey du Vorsent. The others are already familiar with Groupama 3 having been responsible for preparing her: Eric Lamy and François Salabert, who is in charge of the navigation" adds Fred.
"We're going to be sailing in fairly strong downwind conditions for 36 hours. After that, the wind should ease to around fifteen knots, enabling us to make the equator in nine days. As such we won't be back in time for the Christmas festivities, but no matter, we're here to get Groupama 3 safely back into port. Today the boat is more solid than ever. We'll just have to watch out for whales. On leaving Cape Town this morning we came across seven or eight, which was fantastic" concludes Fred Le Peutrec.
The organisation of Groupama 3's crew between Cape Town and Brest:
Watch No.1: Fred Le Peutrec - Eric Lamy - Nick Legatt
Watch No.2: Ronan Le Goff - Clément Surtel - Ludovic Aglaor,
Watch No.3: Jacques Caraës - Thierry Duprey du Vorsent - Mayeul Rifflet
Off-watch navigator: François Salabert
Cammas - Groupama