Contacted by his shore crew, Lionel Lemonchois went over the circumstances of the damage which was incurred by Gitana 13 yesterday afternoon: “As we were heading towards the front, which we knew was set to be rather venomous, the wind was gradually picking up. The crew, who had fully anticipated this strengthening wind, had perfectly adapted the sail area so that Gitana 13 would suffer as little as possible. We had up to 55 knots at the strongest part of the system. However, it was the seas more than the strength of the wind which caused us problems. They continued to build until the waves reached 6 to 7 metres. As we were sailing against the current, the seas were abrupt and fairly breaking. One of the waves was stronger than the others and Gitana 13 dropped down heavily. It was one impact too much!” conceded the skipper of Gitana 13, before going on to say: “It was a dark night, the seas were still very big and there was nothing more we could do. As a result we'd decided to heave to for the night, in order to be able to inspect the damage at daybreak. It consists of a crack spanning over 60 cm on the forward section of the starboard beam. However, to the best of our knowledge it isn't detrimental to the boat's structure. However, we're continuing investigations together with the help of Gitana Team's shore crew.”
Since 0400 hours UT, the maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has got back on course towards the Cape, whilst remaining vigilant and adopting a reduced sail area. Given the numerous members of the crew aboard Gitana 13 who are skilled in composite, together with the material we have on the boat, the crew should be able to repair the damage themselves. However, such an operation will have to wait until they get into some milder conditions.
The positive point at the start of today is that the sailing conditions and life aboard for the crew have greatly improved over the past few hours. The wind is now blowing at between 15 and 22 knots and the seas have eased on the whole and are thus becoming more practicable.
A few figures
Gitana 13 left Hong Kong on Thursday 14th August at 07h55'32'' (UT)
On Wednesday 3rd September at 0845 (UT), Gitana 13 was sailing at 34°49.13 S /21 °38.77 E
Watch No1: Lionel Lemonchois (Skipper / watch leader / helmsman) / Olivier Wroczynski (trimmer /head of computers and power) / David Boileau (Bowman / head of deck fittings)
Watch No.2: Ludovic Aglaor (watch leader / helmsman) / Laurent Mermod (trimmer) / Ronan Le Goff (Bowman)
Watch No.3: Pascal Blouin (Watch leader / helmsman) / Ronan Guérin (trimmer) / Léopold Lucet (No.1, head of supplies and doctor)
Outside the watch system: Dominic Vittet (navigator)