A whale of a problem!
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent seems to have an albatross around his neck… After suffering from adverse weather conditions, Gitana 12 was struck by a whale which ripped off part of the stem of the central hull of the boat. The skipper is no longer in a position to haul in Claude Thélier and Antoine Koch, and his priority now is to keep his craft away from further damage and attempt to make it to Pointe-à-Pitre as best he can.
After Gitana 11's victorious arrival on Monday morning, just in time to enjoy the sunrise over the Caribbean, the boats soon started to pack the harbour in Pointe-à-Pitre. Pascal Bidégorry came in eleven hours after Lionel Lemonchois, then Thomas Coville and Michel Desjoyeaux a mere nine minutes adrift as they battled for the podium. Franck Cammas was fifth, arriving a day after the winner, with Yvan Bourgnon sixth. Alain Gautier should be at the helm on the next trimaran to reach the finish at the end of the day on Tuesday, but for the rest, there is still a long way to go, particularly since the trade winds have died down. Stève Ravussin, who had to make an impromptu two-day stop in the Azores after a collision with a container ship, capsized on Monday night when his auto-pilot broke down, but the skipper was soon rescued by a Russian cargo ship.
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana 12) at 2 pm:
"On Sunday, a whale hit me and battered Gitana 12's stem. I think it was coming up to the surface because the trimaran was hit from underneath. I was inside the boat and after the impact, I saw it behind me… It's as if the whale had given me a head-butt! The stem was ripped off the base of the hull by the chain plate. I'm now without a bobstay which means that I can't install the gennaker. I've also got a small leak at the front, meaning that I have to pump water out regularly, but that's not a real problem. In any case, I'm not really in the running any more as far as the race is concerned!
On Tuesday, the situation didn't get any worse as far as the stem is concerned, but the weather certainly wasn't a great help! There's just no wind at all at the moment, nothing at all, and it's been like that since last night… The sails are twisting and turning in all directions, the boat's yo-yoing backwards and forwards and I'm not making any headway, which is no fun at all when you're 900 miles from the finish line. It's a shame, because I was only 40 miles behind Claude Thélier this morning, even though he'd been over 130 miles in front of me only yesterday, and I was ready to do battle with him right up to the finish. For the last hour (12 pm GMT), there's been a little breeze – 3 or 4 knots – coming in. Fingers crossed it'll keep up, because I've been stuck here for around ten hours now!
Anyway, as soon as the wind gets up, it will be coming from the north-east, which means towards the anchor, but since I can't install my gennaker any more without a boom, I won't be making much progress... I've been talking with the architects, though, and they reassured me, saying that I could still navigate with the solent gib if I didn't push it too much. Around the chain plate, there doesn't seem to be too much damage and in any case, I have the staysail as a back-up, and the mast isn't about to fall down… Normally, the wind will settle in the north-east then in the east tomorrow night, at about a dozen knots, which means that I should be at the finish line by the end of the week. The main thing is not to lose my stem and to get home before Gitana 12 suffers any more damage. In any case, I've learned a lot from this, and that's just been amazing!"
Boats which have already arrived in Pointe à Pitre:
1-Lionel Lemonchois – Gitana 11: arrived on 06/11 at 6h 21'06, time taken: 7d 17h 19' 06
2-Pascal Bidégorry – Banque Populaire IV: 06/11 at 17h27'07, time taken: 8d 04h 25' 07
3-Thomas Coville – Sodeb'O: 07/11 at 2h 41' 02, time taken: 8d 13h 39' 02
4-Michel Desjoyeaux – Géant: 07/11 at 2h 50'24, time taken: 8d 13h 48' 24
5-Fracnk Cammas – Groupama 2: 07/11 at 6h57'17, time taken: 8d 17h 55' 17
6-Yvan Bourgnon – Brossard: 07/11 at 13h 42' 15, time taken: 9d 00h 40' 15
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