Newly relaunched, Geronimo receives a major prang while alongside

Tuesday June 11th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
Early Sunday afternoon the maxi-trimaran Geronimo was rammed by another yacht while alongside in Brest's Moulin Blanc marina. The impact caused considerable damage (see the photos). This was particularly gaulling for her skipper Olivier de Kersauson as the boat was only returned to the water last week following extensive work to her rudder system.

A 30ft Beneteau Figaro yacht - it is unclear whether or not the boat was being sailed singlehanded - rammed the starboard float just aft of the beam. It was an incensed de Kersauson who gave his reaction to the accident.

Q: What can you tell us about what happened?

Olivier de Kersauson: "After her eight week major refit at Brest, we were ready to cast off on a training run with Geronimo this Monday morning. We were moored alongside and finishing off fitting our mainsail when a Figaro-Benéteau suddenly appeared and missed its tack. It came straight into Moulin-Blanc under sail in 25 knots of wind, which isn¹t such a great idea when you don¹t know how to sail. The boat came straight at Geronimo, 90 degrees on and at full speed and rammed us violently aft of the beam mounting on the starboard float.

Q: What was the result of the impact on Geronimo?

ODK: "The float is shattered over a length of 1.3 to 1.4 metres below the waterline. The longitudinal uni-directional strands that make up the carbon fibre structure have been cut through. The damage is what you might see if some moron in a 4X4 drove into the Formula 1 pit lane during a Grand Prix and straight into the race car and its pit crew. That's exactly what happened here!"

Q: Will there be a lot of work to do?

ODK : "The immediate consequence is that we'll have to take the boat out the water again because repairs like this can't be made afloat. What that means is that the crew will have to completely strip the boat again. They'll have to seal the damaged float so that we can get Geronimo under the crane, then take off the sails, the rigging and the mast and rebuild the tent on the quayside before getting down to the real work."

Q: So does it look like Geronimo will be out of action for a long time?

ODK : "I just don¹t know yet, and I'd rather not say too much ­ I'm still bloody furious!"

Q: Nevertheless, you'll still have enough time to get the boat back into shape before your next planned attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy next winter?

ODK : "Yes, but this time of the year is very important because the days are at their longest and you can work at sea for long hours. Summer also offers us a good chance of picking up strong winds off the Brittany coasts. It's an ideal time to do our testing as part of the training sessions. It's hard for me to talk about the consequences of this collision at the moment, but what I can say very simply is that this is an appalling blow for the whole team working on and around Geronimo!"

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