Groupama bowman Brad Marsh pulled off a daring mid-sea fix to keep overall leaders Groupama in with a shot at a podium finish in Leg 8 after their mainsail jammed in the path of a storm.
"If you’re looking for the hero of the day, he is here!” - Yann Riou on Groupama bowman Brad Marsh
Kiwi sailor Marsh climbed Groupama’s 31-metre mast three times in more than 20 knots of breeze and rough seas to try to free the mainsail, which got stuck when the crew tried to make the sail smaller in light of rising winds, forecast to reach gale-force strength in the coming hours.
Media crew member Yann Riou said the problems arose after skipper Franck Cammas made the call to ‘reef’ the mainsail, whereby the sail is lowered partially to reduce its size.
“It’s when we had to take this reef that we noticed the main sail was stuck at the top of the mast,” he said.
“After several attempts, we had to admit we needed to find other solutions.”
The solution came in the form of Marsh, who braved the swinging of the mast three times to solve the problem and keep Groupama in the running.
“To give you an idea, it’s already tough to stand up on deck in these conditions,” Riou added.
“So, up in the air with a 30-metre lever… I don’t understand how he did it! If you’re looking for the hero of the day, he is here!”
With speeds almost halved for around two hours, Franck Cammas’ men slipped from second to fourth -- but at 2200 UTC on Wednesday they were just 10 miles behind leaders Telefónica.
And, with an average speed over the previous three hours of 24.4 knots, they were the quickest boat in the fleet.
“Since we started again, we’ve got the knife between our teeth and a cracking pace,” Riou said.
At 2200 UTC Telefónica had a six-mile lead over PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, with CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand a further three miles back.
One mile behind CAMPER was Groupama, with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing more than 30 miles back and Sanya more than 50 behind.
If they are to hold onto the overall lead, Groupama need to finish within one position of Telefónica who currently trail them by eight points on the leaderboard.