A split in the forward starboard beam has been detected aboard Geronimo as she heads round the world on the Oryx Quest

The Capgemini/Schneider Electric trimaran slowed considerably during the night after crewmembers detected a split in the forward starboard beam.

Despite this serious problem, Geronimo is continuing on her previous course, but has had to reduce speed considerably. It was at dawn this morning (Thurs eve – GMT) when the watch crew realised the full extent of the damage which was probably caused by the extremely hostile “boat-breaking” seas reported over the last few days. Off the record Olivier de Kersauson had even expressed the fear that these unrelenting conditions risked “bursting the boat”.

Now deep in discussion with the designers at HDS, the crew are examining their options for making a repair at sea and are taking core samples to check the condition of the structural members around the damaged area. This will be a long and complex process, but one that is vital to avoid the risk of making the tear in the beam even worse. Whatever happens, it would be impossible to countenance entering the southern ocean with such a handicap.

The end of the beam is very hard to access from the inside of the boat, so some of the work will have to be carried out from the outside by suspending a crewmember from the damaged beam. It’s a delicate job requiring stability and a dry atmosphere, both of which are hard to come by in mid-ocean? Any outside help would mean the end of the race for the trimaran, and has therefore been ruled out for the time being. There is also a second option of taking refuge in a sheltered bay for repairs.

Olivier de Kersauson will announce his decision within the next 12 hours.