Banque Populaire reaches Lorient

Reactions from the maxi-trimaran crew on their failed Jules Verne Trophy attempt

Sunday February 20th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

15 days after her collision with an unidentified floating object that broke off the bottom of her daggerboard, Pascal Bidegorry's maxi-trimaran Banque Populaire V as returned to her base in  Lorient.

The crew looked back at what had transpired:

Pascal Bidegorry, skipper: "We continued to work well on this delivery [back to Lorient]. The objective was to carry on sailing as if we were still in the record ... not at the full performance of the boat for sure, but in the organisation on board as the crew has done during the first 12 days of racing. It was important not to stop and to keep the same dynamic.

"I have had the time to ask myself all the questions possible. There are three tiny jobs to do (laughs) but I'm more determined than before. The boat is good, it's a fact, everyone says so, but I really enjoyed sailing with the guys. We have everything to make this project a success. It is not trivial to spend 30 days at sea and it will definitely greatly benefit us. The team has done a tremendous job and we have all grown up a bit. We learned to live together, living with the boat's performance. Living together at 20 knots or at 35 knots is not the same. We do not handle the boat as we used to do. I tried to learn by watching others and seeing the intelligence with which they handled the boat. It is not that simple. We did not break the boat. We sailed well. We hit something, but we made no mistakes.

"We are hoping to leave again this winter. There have roughly ten days of work on the boat. We must make a complete check-up as we sailed 30 days on this 40m multihull.

"Since we decided to turn around, we have not stopped looking at St. Helena and the trajectory of the competitors in the Barcelona World Race and the one of Thomas Coville. We know very well that it is not fun for anybody to turn back. We weighed the pros and cons, but it was a good choice."

Juan Vila, navigator: "It was a great experience, very intense moments of ups and down, as always in this type of challenge. Everything went really well. It's a shame, but we are hoping to go back there soon. In my navigator's role, I spent a lot of time inside, making a bit of a virtual race on the computer. But I was also on deck to help for all manoeuvres. It allowed me to see both parts of the sailing and I have the desire to leave again. I know that after a day ashore, I'll be looking at the files, telling me: when are we going back? ".

Yvan Ravussin, watch leader: "It was a great start from Brest on this first attempt - it really was pure joy and our only wish is to go back there! We know that mechanical hazards are part of what we do, but I really thought we would be okay on this kind of big boat. Even if it is not the first time I make repairs at sea, this one was really big! We must keep in mind that this first attempt was a perfect way to learn more about this machine and gives us an incredible urge to see what she can do on a full lap."

Brian Thompson, helmsman/trimmer: “ I’m feeling fine and not too tired! We have been sailing back for 14 days which obviously were not that fast because of the daggerboard and we were not on the edge on the delivery. It was the first time I have sailed for this long on this boat and I must say it has incredible potential: to reach the Cape Verdes in three days is impressive. It is just a shame we had to pull out. I was on the helm when we hit the UFO and we were doing a steady 37 knots and it was really beautiful night. It was not a huge impact and we did not think it was such a big thing. When we crossed the Equator I made a dedication of saucisson to Neptune but I’m not sure it was enough. I guess he was a bit angry I did not give him any French wine!"

Thierry Chabagny. helmsman/trimmer: "30 days at sea on a boat like this is a very rich experience! They allowed me to learn a lot more about all the manoeuvres, sail trim, etc... all the hours spent on the helm helped me developing a feel for the boat that I didn't have before leaving. I also realised that I really want to go back to try to complete this round the world attempt we all dream about, but which is still very hard. Personally you realise this is like a small company and that concepts such as respect and listening are very important. It went really well between us. I did a lot of solo sailing with few crew. It's interesting to see in the eyes of others what you do, so you try to do better, as the truth always comes out. I think we have all been chosen for our ability to get along with each other and there was no problem at all. We really shared every moment and it was a real treat!"

Pierre-Yves Moreau bowman: "We were waiting to be in calmer waters before removing the daggerboard. We were really disappointed when we lifted it because it was badly damaged. There was a lot of patching-up to do, some cutting with the tools we had on board. We cut nearly two metres off it, which allowed us to resume sailing the boat. The crew is good and well! I was very happy with my watch - we had fun but it was serious as well.”

Fred Le Peutrec, watch leader: "Having sailed 30 days on the boat is a great asset for the future. There were no complaints; we were all so disappointed when the collision happened. It's rare to get it on the first try. What you learn is acquired for the successful attempt. We did not attack the area in which you make the nicest memories, ie the south. But it's always a great pleasure to sail fast on a well balanced boat, to be at the helm with a machine that bursts at 37, 38, 40 knots in the middle of the night. These are real pleasures. It stopped too quickly but this is only a postponement. It's part of the exercise, it is not only a race but the frustration does not go beyond the bearable."

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