Express repairs - High-tech and Ingenuity
Suffering from structural problems, several giants competing in the Route du Rhum – all built in carbon - have been forced to make a pit stop. That's precisely when carbon and resin specialists have to intervene, in a commando-style operation : Olivier Staub, in charge of composites for the Gitana Team, explains the difficulties of such procedures.

"Marc Guillemot's team, whose skipper (aboard La Trinitaine) is currently in the Azores for a technical stopover (due to cracks on the fore cross beam), came to us before leaving : they had a shortage of material". Their emergency intervention within the race has to be perfectly prepared, they have to leave France with all the necessary gear, in order to be as self-sufficient as possible. The skippers generally do not stop in harbours where they know they can find the necessary means to carry out repairs, but in places that are least penalising route-wise. The Gitana Team had anticipated Lionel's possible stopovers, in order to be ready.

Ingenuity required

"In the Azores, La Trinitaine's assistance team will have to place a big patch of composites cloth on the cracks. It will be, as always in such cases, a work carried out with the means that are at hand ! The real problem concerns the work conditions : we're outside, in the harbour, in a humid environment which temperature we cannot control. We have to imagine solutions, build a small shed to isolate the repair, and find the way to warm up the resin to have it harden. And all that as fast as possible, because the objective for the skipper is to be quickly back in the race ! Generally, this type of boats interest a lot of people in harbours and it's always easy to find some help... It's the nice part of that trade, we get to meet people we may see again in future stopovers".

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