Debris from capsized Groupama is suspected

Mike Golding and Dominique Wavre are still making fair speed south this afternoon in the Transat Jacques Vabre aboard ECOVER despite losing part of their starboard rudder after they hit what they believe to have been debris from the multihull Groupama II, which capsized on Thursday night off the Canary Islands.

“Groupama capsized at 2100hrs GMT last night and at 2333hrs we passed some three miles to the south of the same area and hit what we can only suspect was some of the floating debris. The resulting collision has broken off the lower third of our starboard rudder. What is the unknown at the moment is just how much the rudder has been compromised, although we were doing speeds of 20-25k this morning,” explained Mike Golding this morning.

“We are pretty sure that it was part of the rigging. It was certainly a rope because it sliced through the rudder like a knife through butter. We did not stop, but we are definitely slowed by it and the helm feels heavier.” Dominique Wavre added this afternoon, “There is a big piece

Mike expressed his dismay that the race organisers had failed to notify the monohulls of the position that Groupama II had capsized, and that when they did it was by e-mail and not until after midnight. 

ECOVER has had to swallow an unpleasant dose of medicine to get back to the more favoured west and avoid the zone of lighter winds around the Canary Islands and this afternoon had dropped to 116.3 miles behind the leading boat Virbac-Paprec (Jean Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron). 

During the morning as ECOVER and Bonduelle (Jean le Cam and Kito de Pavant) repositioned themselves by gybing west, ECOVER rose to third temporarily but they now have a ten mile deficit to make up on Bonduelle. After gibing south again, the chasing pair are still about 40 miles to the east of Virbac-Paprec and second placed Sill et Veolia.

“It was not too bad really because we had two good wind shifts to gybe on and so it could have been worse, but we had to do it. The manoeuvres were smooth and fine. Now we are just in nice, moderate trade winds conditions 20 knots of wind with good, warm sunshine so it is quite nice. It will be like this for a while, but there should be some compression as the lead boats slow round about the Cape Verde archipelago, so we are quite hopeful. Otherwise we are in good spirits.” Dominique confirmed this afternoon.