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12 May 2001, 10:06 am
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Challenge Mondial Assistance

Loïck Peyron decided not to participate in the Mondial Assistance Challenge.
His brand new trimaran Fujifilm encountered new problems last night while sailing towards Cherbourg. Therefore there will only be eight 60-foot multihulls on the start line on Saturday. The gun will fire at 13 p.m and the boats will head towards the Azores before to go to Tarragona in Spain. This 2705 miles fully crewed race is expected to last about a week.

It was two o'clock in the morning when Loïck Peyron and his crew heard a big noise like a detonation. They were sailing in a very light breeze along Brittany's headland and discovered a fissure underneath the first one that occurred last Saturday. It doesn't mean that the recent repairs weren't good enough but it proves that there is still a structural problem. It should bear the weight and the compression of the mast.
"The fissure in itself is not that bad. What is really bad is the fact that the boat can't participate in the first race of the new season, comments Nigel Irens, the designer of Fujifilm. The English company High Modulus that made all the calculations will have to do it all over again".

The other skippers were really sorry to hear that Fujifilm was not going to race. They all know that they run the same risk. Especially those with a brand new boat like Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) and Lalou Roucayrol (Banque Populaire). "We didn't have time to sail much because of the boat being delivered quite late and because of the bas weather conditions. Therefore we had very little preparation", admits Lalou Roucayrol. As the 60-foot multihull class is exploding, the boat yards are overbooked and provide pieces with big delays. Therefore it is hard for the teams to stick to their planning.

With the technology improvement, the boats are getting faster but also less reliable. Alain Gautier remembers when the same thing happened to him in 1997 with his new Brocéliande (currently named Foncia). "We were doing the delivery to Le Havre for the start of the double-handed transatlantic race Jacques Vabre and we had to go back home after the boat suffered structural damages. I feel really sorry for Loïck and his team who worked hard".

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