Marion Bermuda Race Start (Photo by Talbot Wilson)


By Talbot Wilson

Marion MA- June 9, 2017: Fifty boats are now hard on the wind in Buzzards Bay or just reaching the Atlantic Ocean. They are racing from Marion to Bermuda in the 40th Anniversary of the Marion Bermuda Race. This classic ocean race is always a challenge.

Paul Hubbard skipper of ‘Bermuda Oyster’ (435) the only Bermuda boat in this year’s race got off to one of the best starts of the day leading the 12 Class D entries over the line the second of four starts today.

Hubbard first did this race in 1987. He said, “ Our boat is in good shape. We had a few things break on the delivery up [sailing the 645 miles from Bermuda]. We got that sorted out at the boatyard here.  This year looks to be a good trip shaping up.”

Bermuda Oyster navigator Stephen Benn was primed for the trip at the Thursday night skipper’s briefing at Tabor Academy and the crew reception at the Beverly Yacht club in Marion. He said, “I’m into last minute prep – just looking at all the data I can, as always. The weather forecast looks good, other than the high pressure in Bermuda that promise slow going for the last 100 miles, as usual.”

“When we arrive,” he added, “It could be a bit of a parking lot out there maybe 100 miles from Bermuda. The Gulf Steam should be pretty straightforward this year. This will be more of a wind race than a current race.”

Hubbard has a crew of regulars aboard— Barbara and John Ashfield from the UK. Steve Musicant, Stephen Benn and Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club [RHADC]  Commodore Neil Redburn, and new crew member Scott Snyder from Denver, Colorado.

The race got off to a good on time start with a building southwesterly breeze that was about 8kts for the first start at 12:10 EDT for the slower Class D Boats. Winds built to a sunny 15kts by the time the fastest A Class boats got off at 12:55.

Only one boat, the Class C Morris 46 ‘Escapade II’ skippered by Tom Bowler pushed the line and was over early. He had to turn back to re-cross the line. That’s not a happy way to start a 645 nautical mile ocean race.

The scratch [fastest] boat ‘Jambi’, a new Hinckley Bermuda 50 skippered by John Levinson should reach Bermuda by late Monday but that depends on where they park and for how long on the sail to Bermuda.

All of the yachts carry YB Trackers and can be follow on
Race Blogs will also be posted on Boat Blogs.
Race news will be posted at Marion Bermuda Race

About the 2017 Marion Bermuda Race
The 2017 edition of this classic will see boats ranging from the smallest entry ‘Selkie’, G.J Bradish’s Morris Ocean 32.5 footer from Boston to the largest, the Hinckley SW 59 ‘Pescatore’ sailed by George Tougas of Mattapoisett, MA ‘Pescatore’ is a Youth Trophy team entry.

Nine of the boats, including ‘Selkie’ will sail in the Celestial Navigation Division. In its true Corinthian spirit, the Marion Bermuda Race is the only ocean race to Bermuda that offers a celestial navigation prize.

The Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club hosts the race in Bermuda. It is also home away from home for the America’s Cup defenders, the Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco, and their defending team, Oracle Team USA. Actual racing in the America’s Cup Match start June 17 on Bermuda’s Great Sound, the afternoon of the Marion Bermuda Race prizegiving.

There are several special ‘trophy’ races within the Marion Bermuda Race.

The Kingman Yacht Center Team Trophy is offered for established Yacht Clubs or Sailing organizations that form a team of three member yachts. The team whose three yachts have the lowest corrected time total will be the winner.

Yachts sailing with a crew of two, a crew of three or four or an all-female crew of any number may compete in the double-handed, short-handed, and all-female competitions respectively. Prizes are the Double-Handed Trophy, the short-handed L. Bryon Kingery, Jr. Memorial Trophy and the Commodore Faith Paulsen Trophy for the ladies.

A “family” yacht racing for the Beverly Family Trophy is one with a crew of five or more with all or all-but-one being members of a single household or a single family may race for the family prize. Persons related to a common grandparent and spouses of these “family”, too.

The Offshore Youth Challenge Trophy encourages youth participation. A “youth” yacht is one with at least 4four youths aboard with at least 66% of the crew qualified as youths. A youth sailor must be 16 years of age or older but not more than 23 years old by June 8, 2017. One or more adults at least 23 years old by June 8, 2017 must be onboard.

The Beverly Yacht Club Polaris Trophy is a prize for stargazers. If a yacht has elected to be celestially navigated, she will receive a 3% favorable adjustment to her ORR rating.

While Marion Bermuda Racers are in Bermuda, the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta runs June 13-15. The J Class Regatta is June 16, 19 & 20. And Red Bull Youth America’s Cup races are spread from June 12 to June 20.

About the Marion Bermuda Race 
This is the 21st Marion Bermuda Race and the 40th year for the 645-mile open ocean challenge for cruiser type yachts.

The first Marion-Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race in 1977 saw 104 starters cross the line. Over the forty years since that first race the race has evolved into a true offshore challenge for cruising yachts, amateur, family and youth sailors. Special prizes abound to emphasis celestial navigation, short handed sailing, family crews and regional competition. The race is handicapped under the ORR rating system to assure the fairest scoring available for ocean racing yachts.

About the Marion Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race Association
The Marion Bermuda Race encourages the development of blue-water sailing skills on seaworthy yachts that can be handled safely offshore with limited crew. The Marion Bermuda Race is a 501(c)(3) organization and among other educational efforts, supports and encourages Youth Sailing programs. The Marion to Bermuda Race is organized and run entirely by hundreds of volunteering members of The Beverly Yacht Club (BYC), The Blue Water Sailing Club (BWSC) and The Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club (RHADC) for the Marion Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race Association.

Marion to Bermuda Race (Photo by Talbot Wilson)


VELA VELOCE , Sail N¡ CAN84248, Owner: Richard Oland, City: Saint John, CAN, Model: Southern Cross, Skipper: Richard Oland , Tactitian: Stu Bannantyne , Helmsman: Richard Clarke , Navigator: Geoff Ewenson , US-IRC 2 ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

After four days of racing in a variety of conditions across a mix of around-the-buoys and distance, New York Yacht Club’s seventh biennial Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex came to an end this afternoon. Light winds threatened to cancel the last day of racing for the 35 competing boats, but by 2pm Newport’s classic southerly sea breeze filled in against a stubborn northerly and offered suitable conditions for racing. All classes raced on a four-leg windward/leeward course, and at the end of the day the Southern Cross 52 Vela Veloce was determined the best performing boat and was named the 2010 Rolex US-IRC National Champion. Its owner and skipper, Richard Oland (St. John, New Brunswick, CAN), was presented with a specially engraved Rolex Yacht-Master at this evening’s Rolex Gala and Awards Party held at Harbour Court.
“This is a tremendous thrill for us,” said Oland, who won his IRC class in March’s International Rolex Regatta. He pointed out that competing against all of the boats in the fleet is exciting. “That’s the secret of IRC. The reason it’s become so good is because it allows for innovation. If you look at the results, and you look at boats you see how close they are. Like in our class, class 2, we were all within 50 feet.”

The overall winner was calculated by comparing all entries based on a formula of average seconds per nautical mile. In determining the overall winner, the NYYC Sailing Office noted that the time separating winner Vela Veloce from the second-place overall was 13/100s of a second.

Winning the class wasn’t enough; it was the overall performance that counted. Not much of a consolation to Steve Benjamin (South Norwalk, Conn.) and his team onboard his Tripp 41 Robotic Oncology, which won IRC Class 3 and finished in second place overall.

“We knew we won our class quite easily,” said Benjamin. “We knew we had a good shot at the overall title. Today was great, but we were nervous because there was so much on the line. We have been trying to win with this boat for the past five years, and although we have had some success there was all this added pressure.”

Vela Veloce won IRC Class 2 with an impressive score line of four first places and two seconds. In second place was Captivity, George Sakellaris’s (Framingham, Mass.) Farr 60, 10 points back. Although Blair Brown’s (Padanaram, Mass.) 55-foot Sforzando won today’s final race, it wasn’t enough to move up in the standings, and it finished in third.Robotic Oncology finished the regatta with five wins and one fifth-place finish in six races. After racing, Benjamin’s oncologist Dr. Samadi of Mount Sinai Hospital, who was on the water watching today’s race was clearly impressed with his patient’s racing skills. “The way that he worked with his team is the same as when you do robotic surgery. You have to work together with your team in the same way. Steve did an amazing job.”

John Cooper’s (Springfield, Mo.) Mills 43 Cool Breeze placed second in IRC Class 3, while Philip Lotz’s (Newport, R.I.) NYYC Swan 42 Arethusa finished in third.

Daniel Meyers’s (Boston, Mass.) J/V66 Numbers took a second in today’s only race and held onto the lead in IRC Class 1. George David’s (Hartford, Conn.) Rambler finished in second place, while Ray Roberts’s (Sydney, Australia) STP65 Evolution Racing is in third.

IRC Class 5 winner was Storm, Rick Lyall’s (Wilton, Conn.) J/109 that moved up to win the overall class by placing third in today’s race. “We only started racing in IRC, and this is our fourth or fifth IRC event. It’s a very good measurement and rating system. We seem to have a competitive boat. We worked really hard at making sure we had a good configuration in the sail plan, and we sailed really well. To have beat Carina, the winner of Newport Bermuda Race, in the Annual Regatta and now here. Well, that’s top-notch competition. You know, Rush beat us earlier this year, and it’s been back and forth with them. They put in a really good effort.”

Bill Sweetser’s (Annapolis, Md.) J/109 Rush finished in second, while Nordlys, Robert Schwartz’s (Port Washington, N.Y.) J/109, finished in third by winning the last race.

Lyall went on to give credit to the split-format of Race Week. “The first half of the week was our J/109 North American championship,” he said. “And that was very tough and competitive racing. Coming into it I was the defending champion. I was disappointed we didn’t’ defend, but Gut Feeling is a bunch of great sailors and we take no shame in losing to them. In the IRC event, we had a really terrific distance race. You can’t ever beat a race like that with 25 knots of wind. We were going 14 knots; it was fantastic racing!”

Christopher Dragon held onto its IRC Class 4 lead going into today’s final race, finished second and held on to win overall. “To tell you the truth, we were hoping for no race,” joked owner and skipper Andrew Weiss (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) “It turned out pretty well. The breeze filled in, and the wind wound up being steadier than yesterday.”

The J/122 won by one point over Craig Albrecht’s (Sea Cliff, N.J.) Farr 395 Avalanche. “All we did for today was cover Avalanche and the other J/122, Partnership,” said Weiss. “We sailed more conservatively, after being over the line early yesterday. To win the series was our goal.”

About the Rolex US-IRC National Championship

With the concept of moving the Rolex US-IRC National Championship around the country to encourage growth in IRC fleets, the 2009 championship was run in conjunction with St. Francis Yacht Club’s Rolex Big Boat Series, in San Francisco, Calif. and crowned a winner in Vincitore, the Custom 52 owned by Jim Mitchell (Zurich, SUI/Chicago, Ill.). In 2008, the championship was sailed in conjunction with the 48th Little Traverse Yacht Club Regatta and One Design Series, in Harbor Springs, Mich. and won by Stripes, the Great Lakes 70 owned by Bill Martin, (Ann Arbor, Mich.), and in 2007, the inaugural championship was held as part of the Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week presented by Rolex and won by Blue Yankee the Reichel/Pugh 66 owned by Bob and Farley Towse (Stamford, Conn.).

Robotic Oncology ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

Robotic Oncology ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

The event is part of the 2010 US-IRC Gulf Stream Series

New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex
Rolex US-IRC National Championship| July 21-24, 2010

Final Results, July 24 – Day 4 of racing

One race completed (six in the series)

Overall Rolex US-IRC National Championship

1. Vela Veloce, Southern Cross, Richard Oland, Saint John, Maine
2. Robotic Oncology, Tripp 41, Stephen Benjamin, South Norwalk, Conn.
3. Numbers, JV 66, Daniel M. Meyers, Boston, Mass.
4. Christopher Dragon, J122, Andrew Weiss, Mamaroneck, N.Y.
5. Storm, J/109, Rick Lyall, Wilton, Conn.

Class Winners

Position, Boat Name, Boat Type, Skipper, Hometown, Race 1-R2-R3-R4-R5-6, Total points

Class – IRC 1

1. Numbers, JV 66, Daniel M. Meyers, Boston, Mass, 2-2-1-1-1-2, 9
2. Rambler, Custom 90, George David, Hartford, Conn., 1-1-2-3-3-1, 11
3. Evolution Racing, STP65, Ray Roberts, Alexandria, AUS, 3-3-3-2-2-3, 16

Class – IRC 2

1. Vela Veloce, Southern Cross, Richard Oland, Saint John, Maine, 1-1-1-1-2-2, 8
3. Captivity, Farr, George Sakellaris, Framingham, Mass., 2-2-8(DNF)-2-1-3, 18
2. Sforzando, Kerr 55, Blair, Brown, Padanaram, Mass., 4-3-4-3-4-1, 19
5. Snow Lion, Ker 50, Lawrence Huntington, New York, N.Y., 3-4-6-5-3-7, 28
4. Privateer, Cookson 50, Ronald O’Hanley, Boston, Mass., 5-6-2-7-5-6, 31
6. Rima2, R/P 55, John Brim, New York, N.Y., 6-7-3-4-6-5, 31
7. Anema&Core, JV52, Ennio Staffini, Annapolis, Md., 7-5-5-6-7-4, 34

Class – IRC 3

1. Robotic Oncology, Tripp 41, Stephen Benjamin, South Norwalk , Conn., 1-1-5-1-1-1, 10
2. Cool Breeze, Mills 43 Custom, John Cooper, Springfield, Mo., 2-2-4-3-2-2, 15
3. Arethusa, NYYC 42, Philip Lotz, Newport, R.I., 3-4-1-2-3-3, 16
4. The Cat Came Back, NYYC Swan 42, Lincoln Mossop, Bristol, R.I., 7-7-2-4-4-4, 28
5. Devocean, Swan 45, Stephen DeVoe, Jamestown, R.I., 4-3-3-6-6-6, 28
6. Big Booty, Lutra 42, Pat Eudy, Charlotte, N.C., 5-5-7-5-5-5, 32
7. Temptation, Taylor 45, Arthur Santry, Arlington, Va., 6-6-6-7-7-8(DNF), 40

Class – IRC 4

1. Christopher Dragon, J/122, Andrew Weiss, Mamaroneck, N.Y., 1-1-1-3-4-2, 12
2. Avalanche, Farr 395, Craig Albrecht, Sea Cliff, N.Y., 2-2-4-2-2-1, 13
3. Partnership, J/122, David & MaryEllen Tortorello, Fairfield, Conn., 5-4-2-1-3-3, 18
4. Act One, Sloop, Charlie Milligan /Tom Roche, Newport, R.I., 3-7-3-4-7-5, 29
5. Alliance, Summit 35, Dominick Porco, New York, N.Y., 7-3-8-5-1-7, 31
6. Indra, Beneteau First 44.7, Thomas Linkas, South Hamilton, Mass., 8-8-6-6-5, 33
7. Settler, Cust. Peterson 42, Thomas Rich, Middletown, R.I., 4-6-7-8-6-6, 37
8. White Gold, J/44, James D. Bishop, New York, N.Y., 8-5-5-7-8-DNS, 42

Class – IRC 5

1. Storm, J/109, Rick Lyall, Wilton, Conn., 1-4-3(RDG)-2-4-3, 17
2. Rush, J/109, Bill, Sweetser, Annapolis, Md., 3-2-4-1-3-4, 17
3. Nordlys, J/109, Robert Schwartz, Port Washington, N.Y., 4-7-6-3-1-1, 22
4. Carina, Cstm Sloop, Rives Potts, Essex, Conn., 7-1-1-6-7-2, 24
5. Cowboy, N/M 46, Isdale/Cochran, Greenwich, Conn., 2-5-8-4-2-6, 27
6. Good Girl, J/100, Robert W. Armstrong, Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI, 5-6-2-5-5-10(DNS), 33
7. Eclipse, Corby 33, Dave Kellogg, Oyster Bay, N.Y., 6-3-9-8-8-5, 39
8. Out of Reach III, X-35, Louis Nees, New York, N.Y., 8-8-5-7-6-10 (DNS), 44
9. Blue Rider, J/109, Eric Kamisher, Norwalk, Conn., 9-9-3-9-9-10 (DNC), 49

IRC 3 Start ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

IRC 3 Start ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

Beau Geste Upwind Day Two (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Beau Geste (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Although several boat are still racing, Richard Bamford’s Swan 38 Dolfijn retired this morning which means that at tonight’s prize giving Karl Kwok’s Farr 80, Beau Geste, will be awarded the RORC Caribbean 600 trophy for best yacht overall under IRC, the line honours trophy for monohulls and Class trophy for IRC Super Zero.

“I have never cleaned up as well before so it feels really good,” smiled Karl Kwok upon hearing the news. “There may have been a lack of wind but we kept on going all the time and when the wind was with us we had flat water and some fantastic sailing. Beau Geste has a great spirit, I have been friends with Gavin Brady for two decades and we sit down and decide who we will have on board. Friendship is very important to me, we choose the best sailors but also the right people. I have to say a big thank you to Gavin Brady and the two watch captains, Jonno Swain and David Endean but all of the crew did a great job.

Beau Geste races all over the world and I would like to invite all of the competitors we come across to do this race. The sailing is as good as can be and I have enjoyed it immensely.”

Winner overall of the CSA division and second place overall under IRC is Richard Oland’s Southern Cross 52, Vela Veloce.

“We had a close battle with Privateer who beat us by less than a minute in our last encounter, so beating them this time was a bit of payback,” admitted Richard Oland, skipper of Vela Veloce. “Privateer are good sports and I am sure we will share a beer with them tonight. Although I have done a lot of cruising here, this is the first time I have raced in the Caribbean since the 60s. The boat comes from New Brunswick, Canada and it amazes me why people don’t come down here and enjoy these water.

Winner of IRC Super Zero Canting keel, third overall under IRC and second under CSA was Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 52, Privateer.

“We have never raced against another Cookson 50 which we were really looking forward to but Privateer is a newer boat with some differences and we weren’t really racing close to Lee Overlay Partners. We had a really good fight with Vela Veloce. This is the first time we have competed in a RORC race and I would like to give a big thank you to the organisers; this has been a very well run event.” Commented Vela Veloce boat captain Scott Innes-Jones.

Third overall under CSA and fourth overall under IRC was Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50, Lee Overlay Partners. Dockside Adrian Lee was still full of admiration for the race. “Very different to last year but we have enjoyed it just the same, this was as much a challenge but for different reasons, keeping the boat going and concentrating the whole time were so important. The last few miles were agonizingly slow but we kept cool under pressure and to be honest, we were delighted just to finish. Congratulations to Beau Geste on an excellent performance.”

Only one boat, AAG Big One has finished since Lee Overlay Partners came in last night. The breeze virtually shut down, right across the racecourse, causing many yachts to retire. ‘H’ one of the BLESMA crew describes the scene on board as Spirit of Juno made the decision to stop racing. “The skipper went to every guy and asked him for his view, everybody had their say but when he turned the engine on, it was a sickening feeling. We just ran out of time and needed to get back for flights home. We have developed as a team and really got to grips with the physical side of things but we need to work more on the tactical side, we will be back for sure. The RORC Caribbean 600 is unfinished business.”

Antigua is usually blessed with easterly Trade Winds and the unusual weather is extremely rare. However, the competitors in the RORC Caribbean 600 did have the sensation of surfing through the Caribbean sea in sublime conditions, at least some of the time.

Update as of Sunday

Willy Bissainte and Benoit Reffe’s Class 40, Tradition Guadeloupe were rightly proud as they crossed the finish line in the early hours of Sunday morning, having spent five nights at sea. A large contingent greeted Tradition Guadeloupe including Elizabeth Jordan, Commodore of the Antigua Yacht Club and Ian Loffhagen, RORC Racing manager. Every yacht competing in the RORC Caribbean 600 was welcomed back to Antigua, regardless of the time. Jonathon Cornelius and his ABSAR team was on call day and night through out the race and piloted every yacht into Falmouth Bay.

“We were never going to retire,” said Willy Bissainte dockside. “The RORC Caribbean 600 is a big part of my training for the Route de Rhum, which I will be racing solo, later in the year. We always had at least a little wind, we kept going all of the time. It was great to have such a reception from the Antigua Yacht Club and the RORC. We will only be staying for a short while though, we must go back to work in Guadeloupe in just a few hours.”

Willy Bissainte and his co-skipper Benoit Reffe picked up the Concise Trophy for the best Class 40 and the class trophy for IRC Zero. After a quick shower, the two sailors who defied the unusual weather, set sail for home.

The last yacht in the 2010 RORC Caribbean 600 was finally accounted for.

Groupama 3 In Cape Town (Photo by Alain Paulhac / Welcome on Board)

Groupama 3 In Cape Town (Photo by Alain Paulhac / Welcome on Board)

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 8th 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 1st 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

Groupama 3 In Capetown Awaiting Departure (Photo by Alain Paulhac / Welcome OnBoard)

Groupama 3 In Capetown Awaiting Departure (Photo by Alain Paulhac / Welcome OnBoard)

On stopover in Cape Town, South Africa since 21st November, after suffering damage during her Jules Verne Trophy attempt, the trimaran Groupama 3 will head back out to sea again tomorrow morning, Friday, bound for Brest. Having been repaired and reinforced by the team’s shore crew, the maxi trimaran is likely to take two to three weeks to cover the 6,000 miles (11,500 km) separating her from Brittany. 

Of the ten men making up the Jules Verne Trophy crew four will be onboard to deliver Groupama 3 to Brest, where she will begin a new period of stand-by to tackle the Round the World record on 1st January: “The presence aboard of the entire Jules Verne crew wasn’t justified. As such, together with Lionel Lemonchois, Jacques Caraës, Ronan Le Goff and six new crew, we’ll be in a position to validate the reliability of the repairs carried out in Cape Town” explains Fred Le Peutrec, who will be shouldering the role of skipper during this climb up the Atlantic.

“We’re going to make the most of this delivery trip to give some members of the shore crew a chance to sail, as they know Groupama 3 very well. They will include Eric Lamy, Clément Surtel as well as François Salabert. We will also be playing host to some other multihull specialists: Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, Ludovic Aglaor as well as a South African who notably sailed aboard Cheyenne, Nick Legatt” adds Fred Le Peutrec.

In all, Groupama’s stopover in Cape Town will have lasted nearly two weeks: “Once we’d worked out where the damage was, it was necessary to bring in the architects and engineers to determine the cause so that we could be sure about what repairs and reinforcement were required on the beam-float joints. There was great understanding in the collaboration between the Groupama Team’s research department and the architects from VPLP and HDS. As such we’ll be setting off with complete trust in what is a more solid boat in tip-top condition. It was very important for the whole team to take the time to do things properly, without being overly hasty” continues Fred.

Determined to set off on a fresh attempt at the Jules Verne Trophy from 1st January 2010, the crew of Groupama 3 has managed to find the energy necessary for this new challenge, despite the inevitable disappointment caused by this damage: “We were really on the pace. Despite our retirement, we monitored the evolution of the weather system we’d been sailing in. It was excellent as far as Australia. That goes to prove the quality of the work carried out by Stan Honey, our navigator, as well as Sylvain Mondon, the weather adviser at Météo France. This augurs well for the next stage and the five weeks of stand-by we’ll have at our disposal between 1st January and 6th February for our new attempt” comments Franck Cammas.

Returning to France a few days ago with Bruno Jeanjean, Thomas Coville, Stève Ravussin and soon to be joined by Loïc Le Mignon, the skipper of Groupama 3 will be monitoring the return delivery trip very closely: “We chose to repair Groupama 3 in Cape Town in order to validate her reliability at sea. Calculations have their limitations. Nothing can beat offshore trials for testing the structure and I have complete trust in the crew onboard to achieve this”.

As regards the weather, conditions will be favourable for getting back into the Northern hemisphere: “We’ll be setting off in 15 to 20 knots of SSE’ly. As such we’ll be on a reach along the coast until Sunday and then we’ll put in some westing to cross the equator at around 25° West. The next stage of the passage will depend on the depressions sweeping across the North Atlantic, but whatever happens we should make it into Brest before Christmas and hence spend the festive period with our families” concludes Fred Le Peutrec. 


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

Groupama 3 In CapeTown (Photo by

Tied up alongside in the port of Cape Town since Saturday, Groupama 3 certainly isn’t being left in peace, far from it in fact. Barely had she reached the dock, then the shore crew managed by Yann Mérour, all of whom had made the trip down from Lorient, had taken control of matters with the assistance of the sailors. Structural analysis of the damage and observations made on site by composite specialists, confirm that it will indeed take a week’s work before Groupama 3 can head out to sea again, bound for Brest, for a new stand-by period set to begin on 1st January 2010. 

Benefiting from the technical means available in the Shosholoza base (a team which participated in the 32nd edition of the America’s Cup), Pierre Tissier, Sandy Blanalt, Sarah Lynch and Eric Beylot are all working on Groupama 3’s port float. In a dry, oppressive heat, which is favourable for working on carbon, they have begun by cutting out the faulty bulkhead and then constructing its replacement: “It’s never easy to work in such a confined space. Luckily this bulkhead is very close to the access hatch though. This enables us to poke our heads out into the fresh air on a regular basis. It certainly is hot though!” says Eric Beylot, who is almost missing the gloomy weather reigning back home in Brittany.

Franck Cammas (Photo by Team Groupama)

Franck Cammas (Photo by Team Groupama)

Having made the journey down from Johannesburg, three infra-red analysis specialists have inspected the affected zone without finding any side-effects. This is a good thing according to the skipper of Groupama 3, who only rarely leaves his telephone, as he’s in regular contact with his design office, the architects from the VPLP and HDS: “By running the data through their computers again, they’ve realised that the load case which concerns us today was not intended to exceed six tonnes. The sailing conditions we endured very certainly produced greater stresses than that. This is why we’re also going to reinforce the equivalent bulkhead on the starboard float” explains Franck.

As far as the rest of Groupama 3 is concerned though, she’s in perfect condition, ready to head back out to sea and set off once again to tackle this famous Jules Verne Trophy record, the value of which can now be appreciated even more: “It’s clear that in order to stand a chance of beating it, we’re going to have to go fast. We’re also going to have to go far, which we haven’t managed to do to date. It’s now down to us to prove we’re capable of that. From the moment the damage occurred, the whole crew have expressed their commitment to this. I’m proud of them and also proud of Groupama 3, which is an excellent boat. The same goes for my loyal partner, Groupama who, once again, are giving us their support in what is a difficult time” concludes Franck Cammas.

During this time, the rest of the crew are rinsing off the deck fittings and foulies, tidying up their `home’ and inspecting the deck from top to toe. Certain lines, such as those which control the descent and rise of the foils, are worn and have been replaced. When it’s time for lunch, conversations regularly revolve around the anecdotes experienced during the first 11 days of this Jules Verne Trophy attempt. These are always coloured by laughter which demonstrates, if there were a need, the extent of the bond between the ten crew, who together form a great team.

Groupama 3 Loic Le Mingnon In Action (Photo by Team Groupama)

Groupama 3 Loic Le Mingnon In Action (Photo by Team Groupama)

Over the past 24 hours, the crew of Groupama 3 has been working together to contain the damage suffered around the beam bulkhead. The maxi trimaran has also had to let the Brazilian low pass over the top of her, which created strong winds last night… Franck Cammas looks back at the past few hours in the middle of the Southern Atlantic. 

What is your current situation?
“We’re flirting with the centre of a big low, which has pushed us towards the Cape of Good Hope. However, a secondary low has formed over the cold front, with wind which can very quickly increase to 60 knots! As such we’ve taken refuge not far from the centre of the big low to let all that get past us. This is why we spent the whole night barepoled, heading due South. Since 0200 UTC this morning, we’ve been able to hoist more sail aloft as conditions have become more manageable. At the end of the afternoon we’re set to gybe and make headway eastwards towards Cape Town, by remaining at the rear of the worst of the bad weather. There will continue to be a swell and big seas and there’s still some debate as to how to handle the boat so as to prevent her from suffering. We won’t be taking any risks, even if we have to stop…”

How is life on board being organised?
“Everyone is busy with their own tasks: the lamination specialists (Lionel Lemonchois assisted by Thomas Coville) have been working throughout the night. We’re all disappointed but we’re already casting our minds to the future. We’re going to try to get Groupama 3 back to Brittany as fast as possible. When we decided to abandon the record attempt it came as a harsh blow: we went from a performance configuration to a simple delivery. It’s not the same life aboard, the atmosphere isn’t the same and the time seems to go by a lot slower. Fortunately we’ve got some books on board to be able to escape a little when we’re not helming…”

Do you have an explanation for this damage?
“We think that the stresses and motion of the float are the cause of it. There are always some interference effects which are difficult to model on a computer though. The waves never strike the boat in the same way and the platform is subject to some disorganised behaviour: there are some extremely violent vibrations in a chaotic sea. We think that the float has been able to ripple longitudinally with a series of waves on the stern, whilst the support level with the beam is very rigid. At that stage, the bulkhead cracking was the pivotal point in this scenario…”

What is the extent of the damage?
“The breakage isn’t spectacular, but we know things could deteriorate very quickly and impact on the structural integrity of Groupama 3. It’s worrying and will force us to make a technical pitstop, but it’s a lot less serious than the last time… The bulkhead which extends along the beam by entering the float has split open: We’ve had to install two braces to maintain the separation between two sections of the bulkhead, and then insert some foam before sticking it back together. Right now the bulkhead has been stiffened. However, we still have a problem with it as the bulkhead has caused the skin inside the float to become detached across an area of around 400 mm. For the time being we haven’t succeeded in sticking the float to the bulkhead so it’s moving with every wave. We have to hope that the UDs (unidirectional materials) which stiffen the base of the float don’t break, because that section is the float’s backbone! As such we’re going to have to find a way of joining the whole periphery of the bulkhead to the float.”

What are your objectives now?
“We’re going to have to reinforce the four beam attachments but first of all we’re going to have to carry out a thorough analysis with the engineers and architects. We certainly won’t be able to set off on a round the world without trusting in the repair and without knowing the reasons for this damage. It’s not 100% certain we’ll be able to set off again at the end of January. However, given that we left Ushant very early on, there is still a chance we can set off again before the season draws to a close. It’s feasible! We’re going to have to be happy with Groupama 3’s capacity to sail around the world though…”

What are the options over the coming days?
“We’ll get to Cape Town by 22nd November at best, or by 24th November at the latest. There is also a third option, which is to make straight for Lorient if the repairs we make at sea are satisfactory. This would save us a lot of time in our bid to get going on another attempt at the record. Currently there is no danger of the mast falling as it’s fixed onto another bulkhead and we’ve even been able to hoist the sail again, making 17 knots with the right angles to the wind and the seas…”


Groupama 3

Groupama 3

It was at 1216 UT on Monday 16th November, that the skipper of Groupama 3, Franck Cammas, called the Jules Verne Trophy team to inform them that an aft beam bulkhead had broken, leading to serious damage to the float. Despite the storm, Groupama 3 is slowly making headway towards Cape Town some 1,700 miles away (3,000 km) and is therefore abandoning this particular Jules Verne Trophy… 

At around 1200 UT this Monday, a big cracking sound dashed the hopes of Franck Cammas and his nine crew in their bid to break Orange 2’s round the world record from back in 2005 (50 d 16h 20′). A bulkhead attached to the aft beam simply gave up the ghost in the harsh conditions as the giant trimaran was sailing with her sails angled at 90° to the true wind in a powerful NNE’ly air flow and rough seas. The crew knew they had to go fast to stay in the right sector of the warm front, hot on their heels, in order to drop down towards the Cape of Good Hope with the Brazilian low. The resulting weakness then caused the windward float to fissure and, in light of the sizeable damage, the crew immediately stopped the boat and concluded that it would be necessary to abandon this round the world attempt.

“We’d spent the night sailing fast to stay ahead of the front and this morning Thomas Coville and Bruno Jeanjean were on deck when they heard a big `crack’: there was a small fissure between the aft beam and the port float. Conditions were really bouncy: we came to a standstill with the wind right on our tail so as to be able to open the hatch and get down inside the float. Part of the section between the beam and the float level with the bulkhead had become detached. As such the structural integrity was reduced by at least half. It is impossible to envisage effecting repairs at sea due to the motion. At the moment we’re still being shaken about: there was 35 knots of wind on the beam at the moment the incident occurred and just now, we’ve been caught up by the front so we’ve got 40 knots of breeze…
We’ve dumped the mainsail and Groupama 3 is running before the wind to avoid any harsh motion. We’re going to draw up a route to avoid having too much wind and excessive waves. We’re heading South to let the second low pass by us tonight and then we’ll head off towards Cape Town tomorrow morning, Tuesday. We’re continuing with the same watch system and I’m working with Stan to see what we can do next. The idea then is to get back to France as quickly as possible: the crew’s up for that and if we can set off again before the end of January then it’s still feasible to make a new attempt!” indicated Franck Cammas during a telephone link-up early this afternoon.

Present during this telephone interview with Franck, Director of External Communication at Groupama Frédérique Granado, explained the situation: “The most important thing is that the crew are safe and sound. Our priority is that they make Cape Town under the safest possible conditions. We know we can count on their experience and their determination to preserve Groupama 3. Hearing them allude to a new departure this winter is the best proof of this.”


Heading towards Africa
As such the wisest solution is to quickly make for port to get a better idea of the true scale of the damage and above all prevent the situation from worsening. Cape Town, around 1,700 miles ahead of the giant trimaran’s bows, will be the quickest pitstop to get to and the sea and wind conditions aren’t too bad. Nevertheless, it’s going to take a week’s sailing for Groupama 3 to tie up to the dock and then be repaired prior to heading North again bound for France.
Clearly the ten men are very disappointed after this ten and a half day planetary adventure. The trimaran had confirmed her fantastic performance by racking up over 700 miles on her way down the North Atlantic and by considerably improving on her own reference time between Ushant and the equator: 5 days 15 hours 23 minutes!

At the point the damage occurred, Groupama 3 still had a 345 mile lead over Orange 2 (that is over half a day) and was making headway at an average speed in excess of 25 knots, on a direct course towards the Kerguelen archipelago. Having hooked onto a Brazilian low on Sunday, after a particularly slow weekend, Franck Cammas and his nine crew were fast approaching the Roaring Forties.
They have since been stopped dead in their tracks but, as Franck highlights, they’re more motivated than ever to effect repairs and set off again as soon as possible this winter for another attempt.