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15 May 2001, 08:44 am
La Trinitaine-Team Ethypharm Abandoned
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La Trinitaine

Challenge Mondialassistance

Following serious damage to La Trinitaine - Team Ethypharm Marc Guillemot pulled out of the race on Monday. Latest news is that the entire crew has been winched off by the French Navy and is safe aboard the Frigate, 'Surcouf'.
A Panther helicopter from the 'Surcouf' successfully winched them to safety on Monday evening. It took them two trips to rescue the six sailors. The last sailor was rescued at 19:45 French time. It was a very painful decision for Marc Guillemot to decide to leave his boat. He left the engine on in order to recharge the batteries. Hopefully the standard -C will keep on working and it will be easier to locate the boat. Now that the crew is safe, the team of Trinitaine-Team Ethypharm and will do their best in order to save the drifting trimaran.

Earlier, the crash-box of the port board was ripped off in a wave and the board itself was badly damaged. Water was coming in. The crew tried to work out a way to fix it in order to safely sail back to France. Marc Guillemot explains what happen. "We were heading further north as we thought we were too close to the centre of the depression. We were sailing at a speed of 25 knots with a reef in the main and the solent, we were supposed to gybe in about an hour when we felt a jolt near the bow. The port board's crash-box was ripping off. I'm pretty sure we didn't hit anything so I don't understand why it broke. But the worst is that the port board itself is also damaged and water started to come in. It gave us a fright as it took us a while before we managed to control the boat and drop the sails. We had a look and discovered a fissure under the board. We will try to tight the board with ropes to prevent more damage. It will take us time but we want to do everything to save the boat. Then we'll see where we should head in order to get southwesterly wind and be able to sail on starboard. The problem is that the depression that we were rounding is heading southeast. So either we head north as suggests our weather assistant Pierre Lasnier which I don't really want or we head south in order to wait for the south-westerly wind. But it might take a long time. For sure, we're in a difficult situation. Anyway, I'll make sure to save the boat. We are really disappointed".

The race still goes on for those who don't suffer breakage. Yvan Bourgnon is still at the front of the fleet and has stretched out his lead as he is 64 miles ahead of Franck Cammas (Groupama). The latter overtook Alain Gautier and Ellen MacArthur (Foncia-Kingfisher) who dropped to third place. Jean-Luc Nelias (Belgacom) is fourth. But it is very tight racing between these three boats. They are all sailing within two miles and the crews can see each other. "We wave at Foncia-Kingfisher this morning", said Jean-Luc Nelias who is really pleased to have come back.

Yvan Bourgnon got in the lead last night thanks to his southern route in anticipation to the depression that came across the fleet. "We're very happy. Everything goes fine, but the race is not finished. Groupama and Foncia are further west and might come close to us", said the skipper of Bayer during the radio chat.

"The next 24 hours will be tricky as there is a new depression coming towards the Azores. Between the one that has just gone and this one coming there will be a windless area difficult to deal with", commented Dutchman Marcel Van Triest, navigator aboard Groupama.
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