Three week fix

It will take longer than anticipated to fix Orange's mast

Sunday February 17th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

madforsailing correspondent and Orange crewman Nick Moloney surveys the mast

With the winds abating yesterday, provided an opportunity for the team at Chantier Multiplast in Vannes to unstep Orange's broken mast yesterday morning at 0930.

Once down, the spar was moved into a shed in the yard where it was carefully and methodically inspected by Gilles Ollier, Orange's principle design who also runs the Multiplast yard, along with his design team, the engineers who worked on the boat and Orange's crew.

Early observations suggest that the incident is indeed due to a weakness in the zone around the masthead running backstay used. Bruno Peyron, skipper of Orangecommented: "Although we will have to wait a couple of days to know more about the precise origin of the damage - once all of the specialists have had the time to inspect the damaged part ­ we all agree now that the damage can be repaired and we all agree how to go about it. The damaged part will have to be rebuilt. I'd like to thank our partner, Orange, for reacting so well and for being behind us all the way." It is known that another option that was being considered was to 'borrow' the mast off Club Med, now believed to be in Tracy Edwards' ownership.

Multiplast's plan is to set about rebuilding the whole of the upper part of the mast. The boatyard still has the moulds which were used to build the carbon fibre wingmasts on ORange and her two sisterships that took part in The Race. "Multiplast is going to rebuild the whole of the upper part of the mast, a part almost six metres long. Once built, it will be fitted with a sleeve coupling above the top rigging using proven assembly methods", explained Bruno Peyron. Multiplast has the know-how, the people and the material to do what is required. The only outstanding question is how long it will take ? ".

"Multiplast has told us that something between 15 and 19 days are needed to do the job " reported Bruno Peyron. The ship's captain, Gilles Chiorri, continued: "In other words, we are hoping to be able to re-step the mast in the first week of March . To help Multiplast with the work, two members of the shore team from the maxi-catamaran Orange specialising in composite materials will be on hand, namely Olivier Vigoureux and Vincent Donnot. Yves Le Blevec, one of the sailing team who is also perfectly familiar with all of the build techniques will act as the interface between us and Multiplast ". Le Blevec was part of the team which built Team Adventure.

But will a March departure be too late for the Jules Verne? It should be remembered that when he set the current record Olivier de Kersausondid not leave until 6th March in 1997. "Right at the very start of the campaign, we had set ourselves the 10th March as our absolute deadline so - we're looking to a new start around that date!" summed up Peyron.

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