D + 4 - Technical pit stop in Puerto Sherry (Spain)
In 7th position in the first rankings of the day, at 5h30 this morning, Gitana had to change course and head for Spain due to a broken dagger board. Close-hauled in a 35-knot (62 km/h) wind and a heavy sea, it was impossible for a trimaran handicapped in this way to continue sailing. The Gitana Team decided to change course and head initially for Cadix then finally to Puerto Sherry for repairs. Gitana is not withdrawing form the Challenge Mondial Assistance and is still in the race.

The damage occurred and 5h30 this morning. Sailing in heavy seas and a strong wind (35 knots / Force 7), Gitana was facing up to heavy weather and had shortened sail with two reefs in the main and staysail up front. She checked in at 4h00 this morning with an instant speed of 11.2 knots as she was on a direct course to the Strait of Gibraltar. The Mediterranean lay ahead, just 50 miles east. Then for reasons which are as yet unknown, her dagger board broke on a level with the submerged part of the central hull. It cannot be due to wear and tear as the dagger board was new and was of the latest generation (digitally cut, carbon...)

As luck would have it...

It was impossible in such circumstances for Gitana to consider continuing her course with a broken dagger board, an indispensable appendage for making headway upwind. So, first of all, the crew decided to secure the largest part of the dagger board which was still in her casing, and then to head for Cadix (Spain). At 10h35, the trimaran skippered by Lionel Lemonchois was sailing along the breakwater of the Andalusian harbour and by 10h55 she had moored outside the harbour. However, upon the advice of the Challenge Mondial Assistance race directors, Gitana got underway several hours later bound for the marina in Puerto Sherry (bay of Cadix), better equipped to handle this type of boat. As luck would have it, Jean-Luc Nélias's trimaran Belgacom was already in the marina, following her dismasting yesterday afternoon. A « sad » encounter, but the solidarity of seamen being what it is, Belgacom's technical shore crew immediately offered to help the Gitana Team out, whilst awaiting the arrival of their own shore crew, expected to arrive around 20h00 this evening.

Gitana still in the race...

The Gitana Team has to be « examined » and a diagnosis of the scale of the damage will have to be made then envisage continuing the race with the 3 metres remaining of the 5 metres original length of the dagger board. One of the Gitana Team members will have to dive under the boat to see whether the breakage, the reasons for which have yet to be understood, has damaged the dagger board casing or not. It will take about 20 hours to carry out all the necessary checks and repairs, which in the best case scenario, would enable Gitana to set out to sea again tomorrow. The race will be on again.

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