Groupama claims third with half a mast
Sailing up from Punta del Este under jury rig, following her mast breakage a week ago, Groupama crossed the Itajai finish line at 1358 UTC today to take third place on leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race. In the process Franck Cammas' team claimed 20 points putting them into second place overall in the Volvo Ocean Race, 20 points behind leader Telefonica.
The dismasting came as Groupama was leading the leg five, but the French team did a great job salvaging the situation so that in the end it only cost them 10 points.
"At the time all our focus was on winning the race and when the mast broke we had to change our strategy pretty quick," skipper Franck Cammas admitted, clearly disappointed not to have achieved back to back victories following their win into Auckland on leg 4 ."The guys all did a fantastic job and I am very happy with our podium place. The mood among the guys is very good and we're still right in this race."
“We are not heroes, I hope we are just good sailors" Cammas continued. “It’s not that bad,” Cammas said. “Our ambition was not this one a week ago, but with a jury rig we could not hope for better than third. This result leaves us very close to the overall leader. It is true that it is a big disappointment, but I think we can be really proud of what we have accomplished. This type of thing makes you stronger if you can get through it."
Cammas added that he was confident that Groupama would be back to their competitive best in time for the resumption of racing in just over a week and a half: “We are going to put on the spare mast. It’s a good mast, not a better one, but at least as good. We have proved that our team is sailing well and we deserved a very good place in this leg. We are looking forward to the rest of the race."
Despite having sustained a nasty knife wound to his wrist while cutting free the mainsail from Groupama’s broken mast, bowman Brad Marsh said he turned down the chance to leave the boat during the French crew’s pit stop in Punta del Este to avoid letting down his crew mates.
“I'm responsible for the boat’s rigging and I didn't want to leave the guys to have to deal with that on their own,” said Groupama's Kiwi bowman. “Now I'm really pleased to have completed the leg.”
Marsh said he had known immediately that his injury was a bad one when he accidentally jammed his knife deep into his wrist soon after the mast snapped while Groupama were leading with less than 1,000 nautical miles of the finish Leg 5.
As the rest of the crew struggled to secure the broken spar and prevent any damage to the boat’s hull, boat medic Martin Krite tended to Marsh, first stemming the flow of blood before taking him below to close the wound using surgical staples.
Krite said today he had been happy with the way the medical emergency had been dealt with, despite a false start with the first two staples.
Marsh was greeted on the arrival pontoon today by his girlfriend Robin Hilton, dressed in a Groupama branded nurse’s uniform complete with stethoscope.
Photos below by Ian Roman and Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race