Looking ahead again
After the decision to suspend the third leg of The Ocean Race and return to Cape Town, GUYOT environnement - Team Europe is looking ahead again. The damage to the hull bottom has been secured to the extent that the movement of the sandwich laminate in the waves has been reduced, hopefully preventing further delamination or even breaching of the bottom.
The boat, skippered by Benjamin Dutreux and crewed by Robert Stanjek, Sébastien Simon, Annie Lush and on board reporter Charles Drapeau, is heading for Cape Town under reduced sail area and with engine support. Currently, the yacht is sailing in light wind conditions, however the swell is still strong, so careful action is absolutely essential.
"It was a strange situation when we noticed the movement in the bottom. There was really a lot of movement. After we had contact with the tech team and the architects, it was clear that we can't fix it at sea and we have to return to Cape Town," Benjamin Dutreux reports. "I feel really bad for the team. But that's the game, unfortunately. We are now sailing at about 10 knots and hopefully we will be in Cape Town in two days. Then we will repair the boat as fast as we can. We are totally focused on this repair, definitely want to get back in the race. We are optimistic that we will be able to do that."
To make the return trip possible without further damage to the delaminated bottom area, the crew first taped two battens over the affected area. This is to cushion the impact of the waves on the floor and reduce the amplitude of movement of the floor. Meanwhile, preparations are underway for a repair in Cape Town. The yacht will have to be out of the water for this, and Dutreux estimates that it will take about a week to repair the damage. "The new challenge is to be back in Itajaí. And the goal is to show what we can do in the further legs and to land one or two more successes. The race is still long, there are still over three months to go."
Looking back, the crew have not been able to pinpoint a moment when the yacht has been overloaded: "I don't think we have put the boat under excessive strain. We were sailing in heavy conditions, and the loads are already special in the Southern Ocean. But they were not exceptional," said Robert Stanjek. "Of course, it's always a balancing act to push the boat to the limit, but not to overpower it. But that's not a question of whether the Imoca is sailed fully crewed or singlehanded. You have to find the balance. Still, there are always moments when extreme loads can occur."
From Guyot environnement - Team Europe
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