Newport, Rhode Island, USA, 23 May 2023 – Team Holcim-PRB are back in The Ocean Race after having to retire from Leg 4 of the round-the-world sailing event when they lost their mast. And GAC Pindar helped make it happen.
The boat’s mast broke when a fitting failed 20 miles off the coast of Brazil during the race from Itajai, Brazil, to Newport, Rhode Island, USA, in the early hours of 27 April. Fortunately, the yacht suffered no further damage and the crew were unhurt, but the loss of the mast meant they could not continue the race – a major setback for the team that had until then been the overall leader.
That’s where GAC Pindar came in. As the race boat and its crew headed for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, under jury rig, GAC Pindar began urgent discussions with Team Holcim-PRB’s management and The Ocean Race’s technical team to work out the options. Meanwhile, Site Operations Manager, Diogo Diniz, flew out to Rio to meet the boat, after completing bump-out operations in Itajai.
Within hours, several options were rejected that would not get the boat race-ready in time to re-join Leg 4 and so a plan was drawn up to simultaneously ship the boat from Brazil and the spare mast from Lorient, France, to Newport. To re-join for the next leg, both the boat and a replacement mast had to be delivered to Newport in time for the repairs to be completed before the race fleet set off for the transatlantic stage to Aarhus in Denmark on 21 May. Watch The Ocean Race film.
The new mast arrived first, while the IMOCA yacht was en route onboard the BBC Chartering vessel ‘ROSAIRE A DESGAGNES’ which BBC Chartering agreed to divert to Rio de Janeiro specifically to collect the boat, thanks to their long-standing relations with GAC. The vessel arrived on 17 May, leaving a tight window to rig the race boat and have it ready for the In-port race before Leg 5 set off. Watch the vessel arrive
“Our operations team moved heaven and earth to find the right solution to put Team Holcim-PRB in Newport and match-fit in time for the transatlantic leg back to Europe and we’re delighted to see them back out on the water for Leg 5,” says Jeremy Troughton, GAC Pindar’s General Manager. “We are able to come up with options so quickly thanks to our Project Lead for The Ocean Race, Martin Molloy, and his on-the-ground team working closely with the event organisation and our Control Tower back in Southampton, as well as the good relationships we have with our suppliers.”
“It is a fantastic feeling to be taking part in the logistics around such a prestigious race with our close partners GAC,” said Alex Thomassen, Chartering Manager at BBC Chartering. “More so, to help the race leader stay in the race. During our discussions we came so close to the challenge and the ultra-quick decision making the team of Holcim-PRB was facing that it really made us feel like being part of the team.”
Kevin Escoffier, skipper of Team Holcim-PRB, adds: “Both the technical and logistics teams did an impressive job. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to take part in the crucial Leg 5. Working closely with GAC helped us a lot to find the best and fastest solution to deliver the IMOCA by cargo ship to Newport. It was an operation that presented a challenge every minute, and the support of the GAC team made a major contribution to overcoming those challenges.”
Despite being forced to abandon the previous stage of the race, Team Holcim-PRB is still at the top of the leaderboard. As Leg 5 begins, they are the leader among the top three teams, who all sit within one point of each other on the race leaderboard. The next leg of the race counts for double points, making it even more crucial for Escoffier’s team to be ready to race.
Neil Cox, Technical Director for The Ocean Race concludes, “We’re fortunate to be able to assist our teams in a time of need by offering a tested, trusted and experienced partner like GAC Pindar to help them find solutions to complicated logistical challenges in real time. Being able to get a replacement mast stepped in the boat in Newport before the Leg 5 start was a best-case scenario that allows the rest of this race to be settled on the water, by the sailors, which is how it should be. We are all very grateful for the wide-ranging reach and resources that a race partner like GAC Pindar can tap into and can offer us all when needed the most.”