23 May 2023 / Newport, Rhode Island, USA

GAC delivers to get Team Holcim-PRB back in The Ocean Race after dismasting

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 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.

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.

2 Holcim PRB under jury rig during Leg 4 of The Ocean Race 2022 23
Holcim-PRB under jury rig during Leg 4 of The Ocean Race 2022-23. Copyright: Georgia Schofield | polaRYSE / Holcim - PRB / The Ocean Race

That’s where GAC’s specialist marine leisure, sport and events division, 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, a member of their on-the-ground team flew out to Rio to meet the boat, after completing site operations in Itajai.

Within hours, several options were rejected that would not get the boat race-ready in time to take part in Leg 5 and a plan was drawn up to simultaneously ship the boat from Brazil and the spare mast from Lorient, France, to Newport. 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.

1 GAC Pindar moved Holcim PRB yacht on BBC Chartering vessel from Rio Brazil to Newport RI May 2023
GAC Pindar moved Holcim-PRB yacht on BBC Chartering vessel from Rio, Brazil to Newport, RI, May 2023. Copyright: BBC Chartering

“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,” 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.”

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.

“We’re very happy to have been able to play our part in getting Team Holcim-PRB back out on the water, competing for points on the race course, which is exactly how The Ocean Race should be decided,” concludes Troughton.

[Main picture shows the Holcim-PRB boat sailing in Leg 5 start from Newport, RI, with new mast shipped by GAC Pindar, May 2023.
Copyright: Sailing Energy / The Ocean Race.]

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