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Groupama boys in Itajai

© Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean Race
© Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean Race

Groupama sailing team kept their hopes of overall victory alive on Tuesday, overcoming the loss of their rig to claim the final podium position -- and a crucial 20 points -- for Leg 5.

Groupama raced over the finish line under a cleverly jury rigged mast at 1358 UTC on Tuesday after a painfully slow final approach which saw their speed drop to as low as three knots in the fickle winds off the Brazilian coast.

"The guys all did a fantastic job and I am very happy with our podium place," said skipper Franck Cammas. "The mood among the guys is very good and we're still right in this race."

Just six days ago Cammas’ crew were questioning what they had done to deserve their ill fortune after a broken mast ended dreams of a second consecutive leg win.

They had looked to be winning their duel with eventual leg winners PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG through the South Atlantic when disaster struck.

They suspended racing at 1542 UTC on April 4 after their mast snapped in two, just level with the first set of spreaders, around 10 metres above the deck.

The sailors were able to recover most of the rig and made for the Uruguayan city of Punta del Este, around 60 miles from where the incident happened.

A round-the-clock repair effort saw a makeshift rig fashioned from the bigger of the two broken parts of the mast in just three days.

The team resumed racing at 0500 UTC on April 7 with seven crew on board including bowman Brad Marsh, who had five staples put into his wrist after accidentally plunging a knife into it while cutting away the mainsail from the broken mast.

Victory in the 6,700 nautical mile leg from Auckland to Itajaí would have seen the French team move within touching distance of overall leaders Team Telefónica.

However third place was consolation enough for Cammas’ men, who are now just 20 points behind the leaders.

They also extend their lead over third-placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, who should finish Leg 5 in fourth.


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