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A Fast Pit Stop In Brazil For Banque Populaire


  • A Fast Pit Stop In Brazil For Banque Populaire

    After a little more than 48 hours of technical stopover in Rio de Janeiro, ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest skipper Armel Le Cleac'h and his ULTIM Maxi Banque Populaire XI have returned to the race track. He docked out from Rio at a little after 1630hrs UTC and resumed racing in third place at 1738hrs UTC.

    Thanks to great cooperation from the authorities in France and Brazil the Banque Populaire XI technical team were able to replace the two rudders damaged in the South Atlantic. On leaving the dock Le Cleac’h said his only ambition is to get to the finish line of the race.

    “It has been an incredible logistical feat,” explained Le Cleac'h, “An important chain of solidarity was put in place and allowed us to leave as quickly as possible.”

    Le Cleac'h’s technical stopover lasted a little more than two days since it began on Friday, in the bay of Rio de Janeiro at 1417hrs on Friday. On site they had five members of the technical team who were already waiting for Armel Le Cleac’h.

    “The team first carried out a technical assessment to evaluate all the damage,” explained the skipper. They had to make good two damages, one which occurred last Tuesday following a collision with the port float rudder, the second hit was on Thursday on the central rudder. “

    The two replacement rudders were transported from France and were received on site at 3 a.m today (local time, 7 a.m. in France)

    “We were fortunate to be helped by many people, at the French embassy in Brazil, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and even Brazilian customs. All of them allowed us to have the rudders available so quickly,” explains Le Cleac'h.

    “ I would like to share my warmest appreciation for those who helped us over the last two days.”

    The assembly of the rudders therefore was completed this morning, Sunday.
    “The team remained 100% focused on optimizing the repair as much as possible and allowing me to return to sea.”

    Although he helped where he could with the repairs, Armel also took the opportunity to rest. “It’s been more than 40 days since I’ve been able to sleep a full night or take a shower. I was able to rest well.” However, there is no question for Armel of any relief from the pressure. “I didn’t have time to really take time off, I stayed on the boat a lot and I didn’t switch off from race mode at all.”

    Having lost second place to Coville again last night Le Cleac'h said today, “I don’t want to look ahead ahead but we absolutely know that everything is still possible in this round the world race. All the boats are tired, the sailors are tired and this race is extraordinary, destiny can change in a fraction of seconds. All I want to do is get to the finish line, I want to go to the end to be able to finish this extraordinary adventure”.

    After arriving in Rio de Janeiro on February 16, 2024 at midday, the Maxi Banque Populaire XI passed into the hands of the Team for the assessment of the damage to the rudders and the repairs to be carried out.
    As soon as he arrived on the Brazilian pontoons, Armel discussed the reasons for this stopover and the challenges to follow in this new stage of the Arkea Ultim Challenge-Brest adventure.

    Second placed skipper on the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest Armel Le Cleach is a few miles from Rio de Janeiro, Brasil early this Friday afternoon, set to meet members of his shore team at the start of a technical stopover which is required as he has damaged or lost the main hull rudder and the port rudder of his ULTIM in two separate incidents earlier this week.

    The Banque Populaire team report this afternoon, “Armel Le Cleac'h and the Maxi Banque Populaire XI suffered two major rudder damages in 48 hours which have now disrupted the rest of the race as he requires a new technical stopover. On Tuesday February 13 around midday UTC the Maxi Banque Populaire port float had a collision. Maxi Banque Populaire XI was sailing at more than 30 knots on starboard tack when the port rudder hit a log, causing the complete loss of the appendage.”

    The team statement continues, “While there were still nearly 6,000 miles to go to reach Brest, the equivalent of two transatlantic races, Armel Le Cleac'h sailed for a few hours on starboard on the central rudder and confirmed his desire to continue the race without making a stopover, despite the absence of the port rudder which would have been mainly used on the route to Brittany. Without this appendage, safety on board was not in question and the boat was OK, although this required slower speeds.”

    Le Cleac'h himself takes up the story, “I was sailing along Argentina, downwind, in always fast conditions. I was emerging from a very busy 24 hours with a depression which had deepened with very unstable wind and gusts which reached up to 50 knots. I heard a violent impact on the port rudder. I caught a glimpse of a wooden log. The impact was very violent, the rudder was largely torn off. It was a real setback. But even if that was a difficult moment, we knew that it was possible to continue sailing without a rudder. The weather would not have been so bad and we could still get to Brest.”

    A second blow makes the stopover necessary

    But then on Thursday February 15 around 0830hrs UTC Le Cleac'h experienced a sudden breakage of the central rudder of the Maxi Banque Populaire XI off the Brazilian coast, without any shock being felt on board .

    _“I heard a loud “crack”, mechanically the rudder had just given way,”_he explains. “Quickly, we had to adapt because on board everything had become so much more complicated”.

    These two successive damages now require the skipper of the Banque de la Voile to make this technical stopover so the team can precisely diagnose the situation and to consider the next possible steps for their round the world race.

    “Now the boat is difficult to control with only one rudder allowing us to steer. We have no other option than to put the race on hold and stop,” Le Cleac'h assures.
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