Relaxation for some, hard work for others: At the stopover of The Ocean Race in Cape Town, the sailors of GUYOT environnement – Team Europe were able to recover from the strain of 18 days at sea. For the technical team, however, the schedule was tight: Due to the unexpectedly long duration of the second leg, the shore crew around Thomas Cardrin had to act quickly to get all the work done. But just a few days before the start of the royal leg of this The Ocean Race, the black yacht is fit for the Southern Ocean, ready for the 12,750 nautical miles from Cape Town/South Africa to Itajaí/Brazil.
“There was really very little time. The team crossed the finish line at 5 pm on Sunday, 12 February. The next morning at 11 a.m. we craned, and six days later the yacht was back in the water. In between we still had very strong winds, so we had to secure the yacht and couldn’t work on deck,” reports Thomas Cardrin. “But we managed everything.”
A check of the hull revealed small cracks in the carbon and composite layers, but no structural damage to the yacht. Still, the boat builders and technicians had a long list to work through. The rig was taken down and checked. The settings were changed once again. The hydraulic systems were checked, oil changes were made. Unlike other teams, there were no problems with the foils, but the keel hydraulics caused some work.
In addition, several new ropes were pulled in. “You can clearly see the great strain on the sheets and halyards from sailing in a team compared to sailing solo. Everyone is working with great power,” Cardrin reports. “The biggest item on our work list, however, was the water ballast tank. It had a leak, so we had to saw it open, re-laminate and reseal it. Now everything looks good again,” says Cardrin. But the team wasn’t finished there: to optimise the yacht’s trim for the wave and wind conditions in the Southern Ocean, the diesel and fresh water tanks were moved to the stern.
The GUYOT environnement – Team Europe also delivered a large mountain of sailcloth to the North Sails loft in Cape Town. Some structural damage in the laminate sails was also experienced by the other teams, but in the European campaign there were other problems: The lightweight nylon gennaker (A2) had completely torn off at the sail head and then also slit open. “Obviously the cloth chafed on the ring of the recovery hose and then tore off. North Sails did a lot of work here and fixed everything.” The ring of the recovery hose got a fresh fine tuning. In addition, the fractional zero (FRO) and the A3 were also under repair. The mainsail, on the other hand, which the crew had glued themselves after the first leg in Cape Verde, was fine. Which seven sails will be brought on board on Saturday will be decided on Friday. “Then Benjamin (Dutreux) and Sébastien (Simon) will determine the routing,” says Cardrin.
For the coming leg, the technical boss is very confident after the yacht refit. Thomas Cardrin: “There is nothing I am really worried about. The team has become even more experienced after the first two legs. Ben is back on board and knows how to drive the boat. He will be careful enough with it. But there’s no reason the team can’t push hard. We are encouraged by the completion of the second leg. We crossed the finish line not even four hours after the first after 18 days. That was insanely close. If the team keeps going like this, something should be possible – especially in the tough conditions of the third stage.”