Groupe Bel withdraws from Transat
De Pavant, skipper of the Groupe Bel Open 60 comments: “I fell on board Groupe Bel, just at the end of a 24-hour sail last weekend to make sure that everything was ready before delivering her to Plymouth. I fell in the saloon and I fractured my left fibula. I'm being properly looked after by a physiotherapist and doctor team that has been following me for years. Their verdict is clear: I will need a splint for five weeks and then physiotherapy for three weeks. There will be no long-term consequences if it is carefully tended. So, I will not be participating in The Artemis Transat, which leaves on 11 May.
"Naturally, I am very disappointed for the whole team, because we have worked very hard to prepare for this race, and for all the Bel people who have been giving me their full support, particularly the subsidiaries concerned by the Transat (England, United States and Canada). The programme will be disturbed, but this does not affect our main objective, preparing for the Vendée Globe. It is better for it to happen now, than in six months' time. It is difficult to combine all that's needed to win races. You need a good boat, a good sponsor, a motivated team and a skipper on form. We have everything we need, except the latter. So, we are going to change our preparation, sailing and public relations schedule, and we will devote more time to all that.”
Guillaume Jouët, Groupe Bel's communications manager comments: “Our first thoughts were obviously for Kito, and we hope he will make a quick recovery. This is a stumbling block that we must overcome and we will need to reorganise the season. However, we are confident in what is to follow. Kito and Groupe Bel have already qualified for the Vendée Globe, thanks to the BtoB transatlantic race in December. We will therefore have to continue preparing this future round-the-world. Our workers the world over are following Kito and his adventures.
"This withdrawal from the Transat will obviously disappoint them, particularly those who had planned to be there at the start and those who wished to welcome her at the finish. This is not to mention all those who were eager to live the adventure at a distance, through the internal communication system. However, this will enable us to reform the Public Relations programme and to visit our subsidiaries. Our attention will now be focussed on Kito's convalescence, but the Bel Tchiz Tour will continue and will return better than ever for the start of the Vendée Globe.”