MOD70 Zoulou multihull line honours win with GAC Pindar time-critical sailing logistics

We love it when a plan comes together, especially when disasters are avoided, and problems overcome.

On 21 February, Zoulou, the seventy-foot multihull sailed by Erik Maris (FRA) won Multihull Line Honours in the 2023 RORC Caribbean 600 by just 11 seconds. After racing at speeds approaching 40 knots, the 600-mile race was decided in a nail-biting photo-finish, with Maris’ MOD70 pipping Giovanni Soldini’s Maserati Multi70 (ITA) across the finish line after an elapsed time of one day, 55 mins 34 secs.

One of seven trimarans designed by VPLP and built in France by CDK Technologies in 2010, this MOD70 is an old friend of GAC Pindar. Since leaving the one-design fleet, it has been used by three different teams – Team Concise, then PowerPlay and now Zoulou – each of which trusted us to take care of all their freight forwarding needs. Team Zoulou also uses us for their GC32 foiling catamaran competing in the annual GC32 Racing Tour.

Dedicated service

Just as the crew on the water keeps going right up to the finish line, our operations team are dedicated working at full strength to ensure logistics deadlines are met and freight delivered on time, regardless of any mishap they may meet.

The latest shipment hit a bump in the road when the vessel moving one of the team’s shipping containers carrying the workshop, spares and cradle was five days late departing Europe. One of two containers that were in Portimão, Portugal prior to the RORC Transatlantic Race, was held back when its partner left for the Caribbean over the Christmas period, ready to move on after the MOD70 left Lanzarote for Grenada, 3,000 NM away. From there, the trimaran was delivered to Antigua to prepare for the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s famous Caribbean alternative to the Fastnet Race.

Time-sensitive shipment

It was absolutely essential that spare mainsail battens were transported to the Caribbean. But, at over 7 metres long they exceed standard airfreight dimensions, so had to travel inside the shipping container as ocean freight. Services from the Mediterranean to St Johns, Antigua, are limited. What’s more, transhipment across the Caribbean is notoriously unreliable and to be avoided if possible. It was therefore decided to send the container by road on the 1,430-mile journey from Portimão to Vlissingen in the Netherlands, where it would catch a ten-day service to St Johns. Sailing from Vlissingen was the only option available, and the schedule was tight, but it was better than transhipping in the Caribbean. It was nerve wracking booking onto a vessel already running late but, thankfully, it regained its schedule.

Image: Time critical logistics for line honours winner

On-the-ground support

The first day of racing in Antigua was 14 February and the vessel was expected to arrive four days earlier just before the weekend when customs were closed. Efforts to make up for lost time along the way were rewarded – but once the cargo was offloaded, there was no time to transfer the container off the quay. Thanks to our local agent, we were granted the rare permission giving the team access to the container while on the quayside. The essential items, including the battens, were extracted and the boat was prepared for the race ahead over the weekend.

“We understand how crucial it is for our customers to receive their freight on time and for Zoulou, getting their hands on these battens was imperative,” says GAC Pindar Operations Manager Beth King. “It all came good with some hard work and great communications with our agents on the ground. And of course, to see the team go on to win the Caribbean 600 was the icing on the cake!”

Ned Collier Wakefield, skipper of Zoulou, said, “Thanks again for all your hard work, problem solving and, most of all, for keeping us racing.”

Find out more about our complete suite of freight forwarding services here.