Day three of racing in the Extreme Sailing Series had in fact started off well with a fine second place for Groupama. However, the latter part of the day was to prove less favourable as one of Groupama's rivals collided into her just metres from the finish line. A slightly injured crewman, a broken mast and torn sails won't be enough to cause Franck Cammas and his team give up though.
Approaching the finish line, Groupama gybed onto starboard tack to respect the priority she was obliged to give her rival. Unfortunately Aberdeen went out of control in a violent gust and slammed into Groupama, which was powerless to avoid it.
Aberdeen's windward float, hydroplaning wildly, broke Groupama's mast after knocking Tanguy Cariou over, slightly damaging his head in the process, whilst three of the other four crew jumped into the water to avoid injury.
Questioned about the incident on his return to shore, the skipper of Groupama explained: 'I had absolutely no idea it was coming, other than a shadow. We'd just finished our gybe and were powering along towards the finish line when it happened. Nick Moloney regretted the incident, but wasn't able to bear away (alter his course) due to his gennaker, which was flapping in a strong gust of wind. His windward float was very high and it hit our mast, which subsequently snapped in half with the impact. Together with Sophie (de Turckheim) and Thierry (Fouchier), we jumped overboard to avoid being injured. Tanguy Cariou, who was in the middle of the boat, on the net, took a body blow from the incoming boat and got knocked on the head. He went to hospital but fortunately it wasn't anything serious. As for Devan Le Bihan, he was unhurt.'
Disappointed but very calm, Franck Cammas was of a mind to quickly effect repairs to Groupama so as to be in a position to sail tomorrow. Assisted by his sailing team and his shore crew, he immediately set to work and will step a spare mast tomorrow morning after switching Groupama's torn trampoline for that of Aberdeen's, which is too badly damaged to race tomorrow.
It now remains to be seen if Tanguy Cariou will be able to take up his post as tactician: 'I'm back from hospital. They gave me a few stitches above the eye, but my back's killing me, my right shoulder is a mess and I really took quite a knock. At the present time, I find it hard to envisage returning to my post aboard the boat tomorrow. Franck and I will discuss the matter,' he explained.
We will see how things pan out at the jury hearing scheduled for 0900 hours tomorrow morning (0100 GMT), which will study the protest lodged against Aberdeen by Groupama. Groupama Website