Volvo Ocean Race - Cammas on the brighter side

Charles Caudrelier from France, helming Groupama Sailing Team under jury rig, during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil.
Volvo Ocean Race skipper Franck Cammas still doesn't know what caused Groupama's rig to fail and remains nervous about what could happen as they race towards the Itajaí finish line but with third place up for grabs and an offshore legend to build, the Frenchman can't help but look on the bright side.

Groupama are sailing short-handed with a little over 300 nautical miles still to go under jury rig but Cammas still found time to commit his thoughts on the team's current travails in what he calls a sport like no other.

From Cammas' blog:

'After our dismasting, we found a goal and a hope for a podium place, which helps us not to look too much at the dark side.'

'How tough was that – dismasting when we’ve had done well with Puma and got a little mattress of 10 miles of advantage -- especially because we had a strong confidence in our rig, which had been through worse things since we left Alicante. And then it fell in almost easy conditions, in a reasonable sea and wind. It’s impossible to understand.'

'At the moment we don’t know the exact reason of this damage; It worries me a bit.'

In our unhappiness we were lucky to be close enough to the coast, meaning we could find a port and calm conditions to build a jury rig and finish the leg. Punta del Este is well known by the sailors since it welcomed a couple of Whitbread and BOC Challenge races.'

'The welcome of Pablo, Chato and all the others has been amazing and they stood with us as if they were part of Groupama’s shore team. Even the public, who gathered a lot around the wounded boat, helped us to move the mast with our bare hands. A beautiful human chain, way more efficient than a crane!'

'Our technical goal was to use the top part of the mast, which we managed to bring back after the incident and which is a tube of almost 20 metres. But we had to create a whole new rig in 24 hours, with limited means, using only the material we have, especially in terms of cables and sails.

'The result, with more than 100 square metres of sail area, isn’t ugly and could even make a sailor on La Trinité sur Mer jealous! Fingers crossed for it to make it through, because the supporting cables aren’t really adapted to this new function.

'At least for now, this jury rig is fully satisfying with a surf at more than 20 knots (shhh, don’t say it, we promised to take it easy…).'

'And I’m taking that opportunity to thank very sincerely our new friends from the Punta del Este club, and of course our shore team, who worked day and night to allow us to leave in time.'

'So today we are sailing towards Itajaí, still 350 miles away, in a mode where the adventure took over from the performance. The objective is to arrive at the port in these conditions and to take great care of this new rig, which allows us to progress towards the goal. It's not easy because the sea is still choppy this morning… fingers crossed, it will get better.'

'It’s with this kind of undertaking that offshore racing builds its legend and shows that sailing will always be a sport like no other.'

Volvo Ocean Race website