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Armel Tripon succeeds in vital repair following mast climb

by L'Occitane en Provence 14 Nov 2020 23:14 PST 15 November 2020
Armel Tripon on board L'Occitane en Provence - Vendée Globe © Pierre Bouras

Armel Tripon climbed the fifteen metres up the mast on board L'Occitane en Provence on Friday to re-fix his J3 sail and secure the rig. The dangerous operation is now carried out and he is able to use his mainsail and set the headsails fitted to the top of the mast.

"I just went up the mast and now the monkey descend! I was knocked around a bit on the rolling sea for about an hour and found myself hanging on like a chimpanzee around a tree. Once down I felt numb with my muscles completely strung out. I am not too battered as I used knee pads and protective gear. The good thing is that I have succeeded and can now use my mainsail and set the spinnaker. There is still some work on the repair to be done but I am able to sail and must savour that so am very happy!"

"The race goes on!"

Armel Tripon has never lost morale despite the damage that has meant he is not fighting it out with the leaders of the race, feels very pumped up following this successful repair. He has fallen behind the leaders who are one weather system ahead. "I'm expecting to be possibly 1,000 miles behind in the Doldrums, because the boats ahead have had Theta and it will take 24 hours to get out of the area of light winds. But I knew it, it's the hard law of sport and when I think of Jérémie (Beyou, who has turned back towards Les Sables-d'Olonne) I can't complain. The road is very long, there will be opportunities... and the race goes on, that's the main thing!"

Understanding the damage and the key repair

In order to fully understand the operation, what has been done and why - as well as what ideally remains to be done - here is a summary of the successive stages:

  1. The damage: the Hook of J3 gave way as the boats were heading towards the front off Portugal. This sail, whose forestay plays a structural role in the rigging, fell to deck. L'Occitane en Provence could therefore no longer use any of the foresails in order to not risk dismasting. Armel turned back to preserve the boat and then considered finding an anchorage in Spain to attempt repairs.
  2. On the same day following and following careful a solution to repair at sea was taken. Armel resumed the Vendée Globe race-course and as a precaution reduced sail and continued at relatively low speed so as not to risk dismasting. The constant worry of dismasting would keep him on the tip of his toes at all times.
  3. A successful first ascent up the mast was completed on Friday. Armel has managed to re-set a sail which now holds the boat's mast in place and prevents it from going aft (which is a major function of the broken J3). Armel is now able to sail normally once again and raise a sail to the top of the mast. The main and full spinnaker can now be used to extricate himself from the area of light winds (8 knots of wind in the area at the time of the repair on Friday).

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