At 4.00 pm (UTC+1) this Sunday, 11 November, François Gabart was still leading the Route du Rhum, with roughly 50 nautical miles to go before clearing the tête à l’Anglais and starting to go round the island, a last tactical effort that will take around five hours. And we are seeing an amazing battle between the IDEC Sport trimaran, record holder of the Jules Verne Trophy in 40 days, and the MACIF trimaran, record holder of the round the world single-handed in 42 days.
The two big low pressure areas that had such a dramatic effect in the early hours of the race, and which caused structural damage to the Maxi Edmond-de-Rothschild, Sobebo Ultim and the Maxi Banque Populaire, have not left the MACIF trimaran unscathed.François Gabart has had more disabling problems in six days than in the 42 days of the round the world.Here are some of the problems the MACIF trimaran and its skipper have encountered:
– First night. When he left Brittany, François had to deal with a J3 actuator problem; the small forward sail on which he was relying to cross the two big low areas.
– Monday night. François realised that he no longer had his foil on the starboard float. There is virtually no collateral damage, since the foil did not touch either the hull or the starboard rudder when it fell.The only concern was that the casing was not blocked.
– Tuesday morning. François hears a crack.As he was sailing along the Spanish coast, he lost his port rudder, which was cut off below the rudder head.
“Consequently,” said Thomas Normand, in charge of the MACIF trimaran’s technical team, “there can be no last inkling of a doubt regarding François’ commitment in each race, and not the slightest hint of him letting go. The difficulty pushes, stimulates and drives him to make an even greater effort. He is never on his knees. He has always trusted his weather unit and his technical team. His obsession is to continue to make headway.”
– Tuesday. After the first low had passed, François also had to cope with mainsail batten problems, which broke in the strength of the swell and the wind. He had to repair the 3rd batten and he removed the 4th.
“François never gives in,” says Thomas Normand.“The loss of the foil did not cause sufficient damage to force him to retire. Naturally, these hitches have had an impact on the MACIF trimaran’s performance, but she is still fighting for a win, and the sail round Guadeloupe is all set to be a legendary finish!”