Banque Populaire pull the plug
After having held a lead of 324 miles over Groupama 3's reference time, Banque Populaire V was handicapped for more than 48 hours as her crew attempt to repair her daggerboard damaged following collision with an unidentified floating object.
The crew have tried everything to repair the broken board in order to resume their round the world record attempt, but after 24 hours of intensive repair work, Pascal Bidegorry and his crew must face the facts: it is not possible for them to continue this voyage with a daggerboard that does not fulfil its potential when one looks closely at the long upwind passage ahead even just to the Kerguelen Islands.
After 14 days of sailing the team are therefore forced to quit in their first attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy.
Pascal Bidegorry talked through this difficult but reasoned decision: "Yesterday, we spent the day sawing the end off the damaged daggerboard. We managed to clear a good part of it and then made it fair. Right now, the guys are trying to fill it in with whatever they find. Then we will have to fair the outside.
The boat is a true composite workshop at the moment, which is not ideal at 46°S, in the cold and permanent fog. We are left with two meters of daggerboard instead of the usual 5.80 meters. At the scale of a boat like ours, it does not help performance and we have a lot of upwind conditions ahead to get up to the Kerguelen Islands, conditions under which the total length of the daggerboard is essential.
"We have been working on it for two and a half days and despite all our determination, we fully realise that we cannot put it back before noon tomorrow at the earliest. We need to be objective, we are racing a record and need to be competitive. Not carrying on is more than obvious today, especially since we know that there are a lot of upwind conditions awaiting us. We cannot sail as fast as we wanted in the south. We have left the boundaries of what is the essence of our mission.
"We have thus decided to leave some time for the team in charge of the 'yard-work' to finish repairing the damage properly. Then slowly but surely we will return to Lorient. We are big boys, we came here alone and we will come back under sail. For now, we are still heading east. We should have a wind shift within a couple of hours to make a northern route. We should get very soft conditions within 24 hours, which will allow us to finish the repair. Then we will start again in the trade winds, downwind to the Doldrums. "
The disappointment and frustration of the Maxi Banque Populaire V’s crew and of Banque Populaire itself are inevitably strong today, but everyone knows that this decision is right, as there is still two thirds of the world left to sail around in this attempt.
Despite being a few hundred miles away from the Cape of Good Hope, they do not intend to stop and will therefore head north to their Lorient base, a trip expected to take 18 to 20 days.
Bidegorry concluded: "I am determined to do this round the world and to beat that record. We have both a reliable boat on which we worked really well and a sporty degree of quality that makes me think that the Maxi Banque Populaire V deserves so much better than what we are offering it today. We must continue to work for the future. "