Volvo Ocean Race Leg 2 - Groupama 4 prepares for drag race

Groupama Sailing Team test their hull using an ultrasound before the restart of stage 2 of leg 2 to Abu Dhabi - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Volvo Ocean Race fleet will set off on the second stage of leg two, from Sharjah bound for Abu Dhabi, on Wednesday morning at 0530 UTC.

Over a course spanning 98 nautical miles, the battle promises to be fierce between the five competitors, who will all be keen to get the upper hand in the Persian Gulf.

Unloaded last night from the cargo ship which enabled the fleet to avoid this pirate-riddled section of the Indian Ocean, Groupama 4 is preparing for a 'drag race with only a few manoeuvres. It's rather special but those are the rules' explains Franck Cammas. 'We're tackling this course as if it's a new leg, which is worth as many points as an In-Port. We'll be racing flat out, with everyone on deck, hiking out and trimming, with the exception of the Media Crew, who'll be filming it all and sending the images back to shore. It'll come down to a matter of metres'.

The forecast wind augurs rather well: 'There's likely to be around twenty knots of north-westerly. They're the kind of conditions where Groupama 4 can make fast headway as we're at ease in the breeze', continues Franck.

However, six sailors had to climb aboard the cargo ship last night to carry out repairs to a crack on the hull bottom, which was uncovered during the hoisting process in the secret port, mid Indian Ocean. The sailors rallied together, without assistance from the shore crew, so as to effect repairs. Indeed, race rules prohibit any outside assistance, either human or material, for carrying out repairs during this interruption in the leg. Without a ladder at their disposal, bowman Brad Marsh had to be suspended beneath the hull with his harness so as to successfully complete the repairs. 'Martin Strömberg and Martin Krite used ropes to ensure I was secure and in the right position beneath the hull. Damian, Phil and Charles prepared the different elements necessary for the repairs. It was an uncomfortable position to be in and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to carry out the work correctly but everything went very well. It was real teamwork'. The skipper of Groupama 4, Franck Cammas, confirmed during a videoconference this lunchtime that 'the boat will sail tomorrow at 100% of her potential and that the repairs would have minimal impact on Groupama 4's speed'.

Groupama Sailing Team is unloaded ready for the restart of stage 2 of leg 2 to Abu Dhabi. (Photo Credit must read: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Groupama Sailing Team is unloaded ready for the restart of stage 2 of leg 2 to Abu Dhabi - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12

Groupama Sailing Team is unloaded ready for the restart of stage 2 of leg 2 to Abu Dhabi - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12

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