Groupama skipper Franck Cammas and his shore crew were given a big shock during Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Cape Town when they spotted the fissure before the final sprint into Sharjah last Wednesday (January 4). A repair was hastily carried out.
Yesterday Groupama 4 was returned to the water in Abu Dhabi marina, minus a large crack in the hull.
The problem hardly slowed the speedy French crew, however, as she roared into Abu Dhabi ahead of the fleet, having overtaken race leaders Team Telefonica some four miles out in a thrilling finish in the 98 nautical-mile race to complete Leg 2.
'Maybe we should leave the crack there,' a delighted Cammas joked at the time.
Cammas was still smiling five days later but reported that his shore team had been putting in plenty of overtime to ensure the boat was ship-shape for the rigours of Friday’s Etihad Airways In-Port Race and the Leg 3 start for Sanya the following day.
'Now the boat is ready to go in the water so it’s in good shape. We fixed the crack on the hull. From outside it was very big, one a half metres long. Now it’s okay. We are happy with the repair of this part,' he told www.volvooceanrace.com
'We made some changes as well on the rig, some stuff inside and we’re ready to go.
'The cause of the crack? I think it’s many things. I think there was an issue with the construction of this area, the glue with the core. We found a problem when we took off the core.
'Otherwise the problem was made bigger because of the sea state in the area where he suffered this crack. We were downwind, full speed, at 20 knots maybe, and we jumped the swell in front of us and in terms of slamming it’s the worst case that we could imagine.
'The shore crew had to work even in the night but we will work in the night too during the next leg so it’s part of the job.'
Cammas and his experienced Groupama crew were one of the pre-race favourites but a third place finish in the opening leg and then fourth in Leg 2 Stage 1 clearly sapped some of their confidence before the triumph in the sprint from Sharjah restored their belief in eventual victory.
'For sure it’s the beginning of the Volvo Ocean Race, just two legs (raced) and there are still seven legs. There will be a lot of points,' said the super-fit Cammas.
'Telefonica had two very good legs, sailed very properly at a very good level so we have to improve to come back. We are confident about the speed of Groupama 4 in such conditions, important conditions (between Sharjah and Abu Dhabi) because it was reaching and windy so I hope that we will have these conditions in the next leg.
'Normally in terms of statistics it’s very important to be fast in these conditions so it’s a good point for us.
'But for us it’s not enough. We have to be always very accurate in our navigation choices. But it’s the game and for sure we have the spirit and aim to win the race still but for sure it will not be easy.'
All five boats in Abu Dhabi are now back in the water following spot repairs in preparation for a pro-am race on Thursday and then the points-scoring in-port race on Saturday.
Volvo Ocean Race website