Following a capsize during the final race of the Grand Prix de Mies last Sunday, Spindrift’s shore team has been busy all week getting its TF35 back up and running again. A monumental task, it is testament to the Team’s cohesion and efficiency that they have already managed to knuckle down to more training in readiness for the year’s main event: Saturday’s Bol d’Or Mirabaud.
In TF35, everything can change in a fraction of a second. Last Sunday, during the 2nd and final race of the Grand Prix de Mies, the Spindrift crew witnessed this fact first-hand. Indeed, a fairly hefty squall rolled in whilst they were on a beat on starboard tack. Yann Guichard tells us what happened next: “The boat took off. As she landed back down, the windward rudder pulled out and we no longer had control of the boat. She broached, burying into the wave and then pitchpoled.” Though no one was injured fortunately, the incident was “upsetting to experience on the boat.”
Determination, cohesion and responsiveness get her back up and running
The whole of the shore team immediately rallied together to become embroiled in “a massive race against the clock,” says Yann. The Société Nautique de Genève helped to quickly haul the boat out of the water. Next, an ultrasound test was carried out, which revealed that the structure hadn’t been damaged. “Given that the boat pitchpoled, there was no pressure on the floats,” underlines Hugo Pronost, the project’s boat captain. The class have supplied us with another rudder, the battens have been replaced and a lot of work has gone into repairing all the electrical systems and making sure they’re reliable.
“There was some concern as the electronics are a key component on these boats and everything was flooded in the incident,” continues Xavier Revil, project manager for the TF35. “However, our suppliers and shore team have been especially proactive.” As such, the TF35 was able to be relaunched on Thursday.
“Those involved in getting the show back on the road have worked with great determination. They were particularly responsive with regards checking everything and getting it all shipshape again,” explains Hugo. “I’d really like to thank our suppliers and all the members of the shore team. They’ve done a fantastic job over the past three days,” assures Yann. At the same time, with the aid of sonar, the original rudder was located and recovered by a team of divers on Thursday morning.
“All systems go”
On Thursday then, the crew was able to take part in a training session on Lake Geneva. “The wind picked up to between 10 and 12 knots, which enabled us to get airborne and check that all the systems were working well,” says Xavier Revil, who was aboard the boat. “We were able to see that the work carried out on her since Sunday has been successful and, in principle, all the problems have been resolved.”
Yann insists that the crew “hadn’t lost confidence,” but was simply keen to “rediscover the sensations of sailing aboard her and check that the boat was able to fly correctly.”
Now that this has been done, everyone is focused on a single goal: the Bol d’Or Mirabaud which starts this Saturday. “We couldn’t miss it,” assures Hugo Pronost. A sentiment echoed by Yann Guichard: “the shore team has already won its Bol d’Or. It’s down to us now to do the same.” The race is due to be contested in glorious sunshine with a thermal breeze colouring play throughout. “It’s likely to be an edition that’s not very quick but not very slow either,” explains the skipper. “We’ll have to be careful as we make landfall at the far end of the lake at Montreux where the wind is often random.”
The crew, most of whom competed in the race last year, is particularly driven and will be giving its all. “About ten boats are in with a chance of taking the win in elapsed time, but the race is really wide open and predicting a winner is not an option,” adds Yann. “Anything can happen and that is what’s so special about this race.” The start is scheduled for 10:00 hours local time and there is just one goal: to enable Spindrift to take the win for the 5th time at the end of this legendary race.