The crew of GUYOT environnement – Team Europe is fighting its way out of the Southern Ocean back to South Africa. 600 nautical miles after the start of the third leg of The Ocean Race, skipper Benjamin Dutreux’s crew found that part of the hull had become unstable and delaminated. Since Wednesday morning, the team has now been cautiously sailing back towards Cape Town. There, the tech team is standing by, counting every hour until the crew is back to start work immediately, repairing the yacht and getting her back in the water.
The team base in Cape Town had just been dismantled after the start of the third leg of The Ocean Race, the containers had already been moved to the cargo terminal in the harbour, and the shore team’s departures were about to take place when the bad news about the boat damage reached the team management via satellite phone. After a short consultation, the decision was made to return and on shore all switches were immediately turned to reverse: flights were cancelled, accommodation re-booked, the containers ordered back. Now everything is prepared. Because every hour counts for getting back into the race.
While the sailing crew made a makeshift repair to prevent the damage from spreading and to bring the yacht safely to Cape Town, Thomas Cardrin, head of the Tech Team of GUYOT environnement – Team Europe reports that the time ashore was used to be able to work effectively right away: “Workshop and storage containers were brought back and the work area prepared. The cradles are back, the rib has to be back in the water, the big fenders are ready. We have made a lot of phone calls to order all the equipment we need to repair the damaged area – carbon fibre, resins, etc. To do this, we need to check how to reinforce the starboard side, which has not been affected so far, for the next legs. We need to prevent the damage from occurring on the other side as well.”
The necessary infrastructure at the port also had to be ordered: A crane has been booked, a forklift is ready, all the large machinery for the repair has been ordered. In addition, the formalities also have to be clarified so that the sailing crew can quickly complete the entry modalities upon arrival. Thomas Cardrin on the further schedule: “On Friday, the cradles will be rebuilt and hopefully we will catch the material. The expected arrival of the yacht is on Saturday afternoon, maybe in the evening. We will prep the mast for sunday. Sunday midday we should be able to take off the mast, put the boat on the cradle out of the water, wash it and inspect it. By Monday morning the plan for the repairs will be in place and we will start working.”
Looking at the continuation of the race, Thomas Cardrin sees a wide range of possibilities: “The best option is that we repair very quickly and the yacht can start again, so that it goes to Itajaí on the normal track, finishes the leg around Cape Horn. The other option is to go directly to Itajaí to be there in time to get everything ready for the start of the fourth leg.”