Virbac-Paprec 3 to make 11th hour pitstop
At 2005 GMT this evening, Virbac-Paprec 3 skipper Jean-Pierre Dick contacted Denis Horeau, Race Director of the Barcelona World Race, to report that they will be making a technical pitstop in Wellington, having broken two mainsail batten cars in the previous hour as they reefed the mainsail.
The batten cars are an essential part on the IMOCA 60, holding the mainsail to the mast. Virbac-Paprec 3 report that they have already used their other spare batten car to repair a breakage shortly after Recife, where the team first made another technical stop to fix damage to the mainsheet track. They will also take the opportunity to work on some other wear and tear incurred during the race.
The stopover is unscheduled and Virbac-Paprec 3 have no technical support crew in Wellington. The only team member present in New Zealand is team manager Luc Talbourdet who was there to greet the crew during their anticipated passage close to shore. However Luc Bartissol, who was the technical manager for the build of their previous boat, Paprec-Virbac 2, lives in New Zealand and will be assisting with the repair. Other suppliers who were involved in the build of Virbac-Paprec 3 will also be called in to help.
The race rules state that any stopover after 140 degrees East must be for a minimum duration of 48 hours once the boat arrives at the dock. This is unlike Virbac-Paprec 3’s previous stopover in South America, after which they were able to depart and resume racing as soon as the repairs had been made good.
The current Barcelona World Race leaders had rounded the top of Farewell Spit at the north-eastern edge of New Zealand’s South Island at 1815 GMT this evening, en route to Cook Strait, a compulsory leg of the course which takes the fleet past the capital city, Wellington.
Virbac-Paprec 3 are expected to arrive in Wellington at some point over the course of tonight (European time, equivalent to the day of Wednesday 16 February, New Zealand local time).
Jean-Pierre Dick spoke to his team by telephone this evening, saying: "We replaced the two broken pieces late this afternoon. We have no more spares to finish the race and have no confidence in the replacements. So we have a sword of Damocles over our heads because they are indispensible for us to complete the second half of the circumnavigation. Without them, we cannot sail. To continue is to take a big risk. Stopping is the best solution even if it's a tough decision because it means a 48-hour time penalty. We need to restart at virtually the same time as our pursuers. It's a new race that starts then, just as we have known in Recife! We won’t give up...”