Here's a quick reminder of what happened. Yesterday morning, 15th May for a reason which is as yet unexplained , the dagger board snapped off on a level with the hull as Gitana was lying in 7th position of the Challenge Mondial Assistance and was getting ready to attack the Strait of Gibraltar. "We were rather pleased with ourselves. The only gear to have broken was a sail batten and the boat was at 100% of her capacity. It's a real shame because we were highly motivated at the idea of attacking the Mediterranean..." stated Lionel Lemonchois, contacted by telephone at 12h30 today. After having secured the broken appendage (attached under one of the float's crossbeams and the gennaker support aft), the boat first headed for Cadix then decided to go to the marina in Puerto Sherry where the technical shore team arrived yesterday evening around 20h00.
A wise decision
After having inspected the damage and made a diagnosis, the decision to withdraw from the Challenge Mondial Assistance was made after having talked it over with the whole of the Gitana Team. "This is never an easy decision to make, but that's part of the ups and downs of our sport" murmured Lionel Lemonchois. "There was no way we could continue the race with this sort of handicap and it was essential to inspect the damage to see whether it had damaged the boat or not". Olivier Besse, Project Manager for Team Gitana continued : "We had to make sure that the dagger board casing had not suffered as a result of the damage. It is a matter of priority and even if we sent divers down to have a look, we could not be 100% certain. By far the wisest thing to do is to rally La Ciotat and carry out repairs calmly and to find out how and why the damage occured too !".
"We have managed to recover the bit of the dagger board which was stuck in the hull. This element will enable us to sail to Ciotat (next to Marseille/South of France) where our container will be waiting for us and where all the infrastructures we need to make efficient repairs are located" concluded Lionel Lemonchois at midday.
Installation of the operational part of the dagger board, cleaning the deck and waiting for a suitable weather window before crossing the Strait of Gibraltar are now what is on the schedule for the Gitana Team. They will be present on 13th, 14th and 15th June in Cagliari (Sardinia/Italy) for the first Mediterranean Grand Prix of the year.