Whilst she was set to leave South Africa this Friday morning, the Groupama 3 trimaran has now been forced to remain in the port of Cape Town temporarily after her generator failed.
“We were in the process of charging the batteries one last time when, all of a sudden, the alarm sounded in the engine compartment. After a thorough check by Yann Mérour, it has been deemed to be out of service. It's annoying as we should already be at sea by now but that's just the way it is” says Fred Le Peutrec. He continues: “It's better that this problem occurred now rather than after we'd set sail because, without power, we can't desalinate the seawater. As a result we would have been forced to make a stopover, which is never simple in such a large boat”.
Around the basin where Groupama 3 is tied up, cameras from all around the world are trained on the drawing of lots for the World Cup football tournament. However, the main focus for the Groupama Team is arranging a new Yanmar engine block to be sent down from France : “We've found an identical one to ours, which is a positive step. We just have to get it delivered to Cape Town , which isn't easy. If everything goes smoothly at customs, we should receive the block on Sunday evening, assemble everything onto it on Monday and then head out to sea on Tuesday” explains Fred Le Peutrec.
Though it may seem surprising that a yacht is stuck in port with engine failure, it is worth pointing out that, without power, Groupama 3 is deprived of:
– Communication with land
– Weather information
– Lights and radar
– Electronic instruments showing the strength and direction of the wind
– Freshwater, which is essential for hydrating the crew and the freeze-dried food.
And even though Groupama 3 has a wind generator and solar panels, they are only back-up energy sources and hence not sufficient to cover the 6,000 miles (11,200 km) under satisfactory conditions of safety: “From our arrival in Cape Town, we decided that Groupama 3 had to leave South Africa in as close to perfect condition as possible in order to validate all the repair work on the return delivery trip. The same is true for the engine” adds Fred Le Peutrec, who concludes: “By leaving Cape Town on 8 th December, we still have a chance of making Brest before the Christmas festivity. Indeed this is the latest challenge we have set ourselves as, together with the start of stand-by for the Jules Verne Trophy remaining set at 1 st January, there will be little time left to share with our families”.
The organisation of Groupama 3's crew between Cape Town and Brest :
Watch No.1: Fred Le Peutrec, Eric Lamy, Nick Legatt
Watch No.2: Lionel Lemonchois, Ludovic Aglaor, Clément Surtel
Watch No.3: Ronan Le Goff, Thierry Duprey du Vordent, Jacques Caraës
Off-watch navigator: François Salabert
Land-based weather adviser: Sylvain Mondon