Volvo Ocean Race Leg 5 leaders are currently involved in some very close racing as they approach the finish in Itajai. Meanwhile, Groupama 4's crew, with the assistance of their Shore Crew, are completing the installation of a new jury rig, which will enable them to head back out to sea tonight.
Punta del Este - Putting in place the jury rig - Groupama Sailing Team during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Life can be cruel at times. Whilst some are indulging their passion, namely racing, others are up to their elbows in carbon and textile fibres. Kept regularly informed of the battle in which Puma and Telefonica are involved, Franck Cammas and his men are putting all their energy into the construction of their new rig despite a sense of desperation.
Having got rid of the section of mast that remained in place during the dismasting, Groupama 4 was kitted out with the longer section of recovered spar just a few minutes ago: 'We've used the larger section of mast, so as we can benefit from a greater sail area. It wasn't easy to do but we've managed it. It's even equipped with one spreader. It has a certain elegance about it. The mainsail is in place, rolled down to the third reef, without the boom.
There are three stays in front, so as to be able to choose different sail configurations according to the strength and direction of the wind over the end of the course', explains Thomas Coville, contacted at 1600 UTC.
Groupama 4 at Punta del Este (Uruguay) during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Like his teammates, Thomas cannot conceal a certain degree of bitterness at finding himself here, dockside in Punta del Este: 'The first two are thirty miles from the finish. If we hadn't dismasted, we'd probably be around fifteen miles ahead of them. We've been very strong in three legs now and we're not reaping the rewards of that performance. It's not over yet though and that's why we're battling', adds the watch leader.
Whilst the shore crew and some of the sailing team are finishing up with the inevitable adjustments and trimming, others are analysing the weather conditions: 'There's 20 to 25 knots of easterly breeze and quite lumpy seas to get back to the geographical position where we suspended racing, some 60 miles offshore. Even under power that's no mean feat. However, according to Jean-Luc (Nélias, the navigator), things should calm down over the course of the evening', concludes Coville.
Whatever happens, there is still a long way to go and the race for third place is the main focus. Groupama 4's crew is aware of this and the task ahead is as original as it is difficult. Life at the extreme as the organisers are fond of saying….
Groupama Sailing Team during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race) - Leg 5 - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
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