Gitana 13 suffers rudder blade damage
Yesterday, Tuesday 20 March at around 22:30 (French time), the crew of the maxi-catamaran Gitana 13 informed its HQ ashore that the boat had just hit an UFO (unidentified floating object). The starboard rudder has apparently been broken at stock level but remains attached to the float, which is impeding the boat's correct functioning. This minor damage is however sufficiently prohibitive to cause the boat to turn around. All is well on board, but Gitana 13 has had to abandon its attempt at the record for the Discovery Route between Cadiz and San Salvador - Gitana 13 left Cadix sunday 18 March at 9:08.07 UT.

Lionel Lemonchois and his crew are currently heading for the nearest dry land, in this case the island of Gran Canaria in the Canaries. But before stopping off on the holiday island, the crew are planning a dive in order to free the section of the rudder that risks damaging the rear underside of the starboard float and is the reason for the boat's very slow speed. This essential work must be carried out swiftly, but it's going to be tricky on account of current weather conditions.
Depending on the final diagnosis made on Gran Canaria, a temporary repair may be made in order to allow the boat to return to Trinité-sur-Mer. 

Lionel Lemonchois, skipper of Gitana 13: “It was night time when we became aware that the starboard rudder was malfunctioning. It seems that an impact broke the stock clean through and the rudder is now hanging beneath the float. We have to try to remove it as soon as possible. It's vital as otherwise, we won't be able to continue due to the risk of holing the boat and taking on water. Léopold Lucet will go down and we're in the process of preparing for the operation. It's going to be difficult at open sea and in the current weather conditions, but we have no choice, we have to try. Otherwise, it's 4 knots max. as far as Gran Canaria so as not to damage the boat. The problem is that we've now got ideal conditions for cracking on towards San Salvador rather than going back!”

More infos in the middle of this afternoon...

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