Often working in the background for the sailors who are out on the water, the préparateurs are key to how the racing team operates; they are the cornerstones of the team yet they seldom receive the praise they deserve. Last night Marie Dixneuf and Cyril Ducrot worked relentlessly to enable Pierre Pennec and his men to make the start of racing on this third day of competition in the Cowes Grand Prix. It proved to be a tricky mission as the two protagonists revealed late this morning: “When conditions are boisterous, as proved to be the case yesterday, Marie and I organise ourselves so that we can react quickly in the event of damage. That’s just what happened because the minute there was a collision, I warned Marie who’d remained ashore. She arranged for us to be lifted out of the water before we’d even made it back to Venture Quays. As soon as the boat was lifted onto the hard, she didn’t waste a minute and cut away the damaged bow so we could begin work from a sound base Next, work began to manufacture a new bow section. That wasn’t all that easy as we had no reference to work from so it all had to be done by eye… It’s an operation which took place in three stages. Initially, we had to give it some shape, which we did with the help of some affixed carbon panels. Once the shape (the former) had been made, we added some layers of carbon film to it, followed by foam and then new layers of carbon. All that was left to do at that stage, was to add the coatings to the revamped section to complete the job. Marie prepared some parts two years ago which really came in useful yesterday evening. I tried to help Marie as much as possible but composites are really her thing and today she’s the one that deserves all the credit. She did a fantastic job” explained Cyril Ducrot, the boat captain. Meantime a slightly wearyMarie after her non-stop work last night amidst the carbon dust insisted that it was down to teamwork: “It was a hard night but I feel a bit happier this morning because we’re nearing the end. In the complicated moments I was able to rely on Cyril’s support and this bow is the result of real teamwork!”
Marie and Cyril weren’t spared in their mission by the vagaries of the weather, which simply added to the urgency of this situation and were a far cry from the sealed environment of a yard: “We had a few issues overnight with the driving rain, the fuses which blew on several occasions and the compressor that gave up the ghost… All that caused the repair to take longer and longer, which was really maddening. The weather conditions have an impact on the drying and curing times for the products we use, which isn’t always easy to deal with but we pulled it off in the end, which is the important thing” concluded Marie Dixneuf, keen to see Edmond de Rothschild Group back on the water
A hearty congratulations to Marie and Cyril, whose work has enabled the Gitana Team to get back down to business today.
Artemis Racing deemed responsible for the incident
Once back alongside yesterday, Pierre Pennec and Thierry Fouchier lodged a protest with the event jury which announced that Edmond de Rothschild Group wasn’t responsible for the incident and that the crew had done everything in its power to avoid the collision. Summoned to Venture Quays at 0915 GMT this morning to defend their case, the two sailors had to sit through an hour of discussions before returning to the rest of the team bearing glad tidings, as Thierry Fouchier explains: “The jury recognised Artemis as being responsible for the collision, which will notably enable us to make up some points in the general ranking. I don’t often get involved with the jury during racing, but it was rather reminiscent of a game of poker. Each person gives their version of events and naturally these are different otherwise we wouldn’t be there. Those videos which were available were clearly favouring our version. One of the umpires, who usually judges contentious issues directly on the water during racing, was very well positioned and backed up what we were saying. Regrettably one of our direct rivals in the ranking came along to testify against us… which is a shame! We’ve always sailed cleanly on the water up till now and this judgement demonstrates that, despite this big crash, we also sailed cleanly yesterday.” The jury is currently totting up the points that Pierre Pennec and his men will be awarded over the course of the day. However, if everything goes to plan, Edmond de Rothschild Group is likely to move up into second place in the provisional ranking.