Through the Canary Islands
After the serious damage sustained by three of the fleet's trimarans (Brossard, Sodebo, Orange Project) and the capsize of Foncia, Groupama-2 turned turtle on Thursday evening. Both Francks, (Cammas et Proffit) were airlifted off and taken to La Palma (Canaries). Meawhile, back on the race track, Banque Populaire is holding onto the lead, whilst Gitana 11 tries to pull off a tactical move along the coast of Africa. Gitana X is making a pitstop at Lanzarote (Canaries).

Frédéric Le Peutrec and Yann Guichard have sailed a nice track so far. Aiming for the Canary Islands and passing between Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, Gitana 11 has come back to within 87 miles of the leader. After having overtaken the Italian trimaran TIM-Progetto Italia in the morning, Gitana 11 is currently 3rd in the overall rankings 10 miles behind Géant, who is currently lying second … In continuing to plunge down towards Africa, the blue trimaran has been able to use a more powerful flow of air than what is available out to sea. The long slide down towards the Cape Verde islands may well enable the crew of the « Eleven » to come back into the match before the Doldrums. On board Gitana X, Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and Erwan Le Roux are running into one technical hitch after another. The full width of their main sail has torn beneath the second reef. The crew is planning to stop over at Lanzarote (Canaries) probably in the marina of Puerto Calero.

Yesterday evening, upon learning that Groupama 2 had capsized, the Gitana Team had mobilised Olivier Wroczynski and Jean-Yves Le Govic to back up the shore crew in rescuing the green trimaran off the coast of La Palma (Canaries).The Gitana Team had also sent out Richard Loncle, Laurent Bourgues and Léopold Lucet with Gitana X's spare mainsail. The whole team was able to make use of the assistance plane chartered by Groupama which was operational early in the afternoon today.

Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11) at 5h00 Friday :

« Conditions are still rough out here, even if there are no more squalls now. We've still got more than a 20 knot NE blow. We had a flatter sea as we sailed through the archipelago and boat speed of between 25 and 30 knots with the mainsail and gennaker up.  Sea temperature is much warmer and we've been able to organise a more coherent watch schedule for the past day or two. We have caught up on lost sleep and can push the boat harder again. We had not intended to head east but we had to gybe off the coast of Portugal and once that was done, we had no choice but to stick to that course. As it turned out, it was a good option as we've got good wind and will be able to sail down. We'll have to wait and see if we need to gybe again to free ourselves from the coastline or if we can make it down the African coast in one long tack. It'll all depend on the wind‘s rotation and strength. If it veers east, which is what the forecast indicates, that'll play into our hands. If the wind drops or remains stable and NE, we'll have to head further out to the open sea and will loose ground. The Cape Verde Islands are 650 off yet.  »

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana X) at 9h00 on Friday :

« We've been really unlucky ! When we gybed on Thursday evening, the mainsail tiore completely just under the second reef although the manœuvre had gone perfectly well. I don't understand it. ! We have to call into Lanzarote to pick up the 2002 mainsail which the Gitana Team shore crew has brought down by plane. We're currently sailing with two reefs in the main and so we're not very fast. We should be arriving in Puerto Calero around 20h00 on Friday and the stopover should not last for more than three hours, just the time it takes us to put the battens into the new sail. As Lanzarote is on our way, we should not lose more than 60 miles. It doesn't do morale much good but we're still on form. There are still 3 500 miles to go to Bahia.  »

Rankings at 11h44 :

1 Banque Populaire 
2 Géant 
3 Gitana 11
4 TIM Progetto Italia 
5 Gitana X

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