Geronimo, the giant trimaran owned by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Schneider Electric, was involved in a violent collision caused by a smaller yacht in the Moulin Blanc harbour at Brest yesterday.
Early in the afternoon, as Geronimo's crew were busy making their final preparations for the new series of sea trials, a 'Figaro' type yacht (just over 9 metres in length) collided with the giant Trimaran at full speed. Geronimo was moored on her normal pontoon at the time of the incident. The point of impact was on the aft section of the starboard float, just behind the beam.
It seems that the crew of the 'Figaro' had lost control of the boat when attempting to enter the harbour under sail. A preliminary examination of the damage will be undertaken today, and although it is still too early to speculate about the extent of the repairs necessary, it seems inevitable that Geronimo will have to be lifted out of the water once again. It is not yet known how long any such shore-based repairs may take. This new setback is a hard blow for the Geronimo team, which was ready to set off to conduct sea trials on the new rudder system fitted as pat of a major eight-week refit
Since returning from her attempt on the round-the-world record, Geronimo has been revised and updated down to the smallest detail. The modifications and improvements made to Geronimo in her time ashore focus on three main areas: the rudder system, which has been the subject of much concern and many questions, the structure of the beams and hulls and the entire rig.
It was problems with the rudder blade that led to Olivier de Kersauson¹s decision to abandon his attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy, and that have been the subject of lengthy and painstaking consideration, research and simulation. Every hypothesis has been examined, from ventilation to cavitation and the rigidity of the profile. Every specialist and engineer has been consulted, and Geronimo's crew have been made only too aware that hydrodynamics remains a highly empirical science, in which every team has to feel its way forward with the greatest caution. This approach, which consists of taking however long is needed to understand a problem before acting to correct it, whilst reducing unknowns to the absolute minimum, has enabled a number of purely theoretical hypotheses to be eliminated.
Over thirty engineers and technicians have worked on Geronimo over the last eight weeks in an attempt to resolve over a hundred specific instances of wear, stress or unexpected behaviour. The specific problem of the rudder system may have required precious time to resolve, but the entire vessel has benefited from the work done during this enforced period ashore.