Yachting: Groupama claim third in dramatic leg

Camper remain the only boat to complete the fifth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race after Groupama limped into Itajai, Brazil, under jury rig last night.

The 20 points Groupama collected has kept them in the hunt for overall honours. They are 20 points behind Telefonica but Telefonica face a hearing and face possible sanctions after allegations they carried an extra sail on leg four into Auckland.

Camper would climb back into third overall if they finish the leg. They are expected to round Cape Horn, the southern tip of South America, today.

It has been a chaotic leg with only Puma, who won the leg, getting to Itajai without serious incident. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Sanya were both forced to retire from the leg with structural damage and Camper, Telefonica and Groupama all made unscheduled pit stops for repairs.

Groupama were happy to complete the leg but six days ago Franck 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.

Cammas' crew opted to put into Punta del Este in Uruguay where they strung together an ingenious makeshift rig which they nursed all the way to the finish.

"At the time, all our focus was on winning the race and when the mast broke we had to change our strategy pretty quick," Cammas said. "The guys all did a fantastic job and I am very happy with our podium place. The mood among the guys is very good and we're still right in this race."

After leading the fleet through much of the Southern Ocean, Groupama were also the first round Cape Horn. They appeared to be winning their duel with Puma through the South Atlantic when disaster struck.

They suspended racing after their mast snapped in two. 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 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.

"I'm responsible for the rigging and I didn't want to leave the guys to have to deal with that on their own," New Zealander Marsh said. "Now I'm really pleased to have completed the leg."

- APNZ

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