Thursday, 10 February 2011

BWR: Groupe Bel Admits Sail Problems

The laughing cow, on the horns of a dilemma?

Groupe Bel. Image copyright Groupe Bel.

by Groupe Bel media

Kito De Pavant and Seb Audigane on Groupe Bel, the laughing cow, are caught on the horns of a dilemma. To pit-stop or not to pit-stop?

That is their question which they and their team need to evaluate having today revealed that they have been sailing without two key sails – their big gennaker and heavy kite - since before the Cape Verde islands. De Pavant’s team reported that the first incident happened 29 days ago, when the fleet leaders were sailing fast in strong NE'ly trade winds.

The boat is reported to have luffed violently damaging the big gennaker which was rendered unusable. They continued under heavy spinnaker which they damaged the next day. De Pavantexplains subsequently that they no longer have the ideal downwind and reaching sails for the wind range 15-25 knots. They are understood to be considering a technical stop, possibly in New Zealand. Any stop after leaving the Indian Ocean must be of a mandatory minimum of 48 hours. Teams can carry up to 10 officially measured sails which. Up to 60 percent of a damaged sail can be replaced.

From having been in sight of Estrella Damm over recent days Groupe Bel has steadily dropped back to be nearly 200 miles behind the third placed Spanish boat this evening, De Pavant considering that Groupe Bel has been up to 20% below her usual polar speeds compared with Estrella Damm.

Note from SailRaceWin: Groupe Bel have since confirmed that they will stop for 48 hours (the minimum allowed at this stage of the race) in Wellington, New Zealand, for sail repairs.

Groupe Bel
Barcelona World Race