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A Busy, Banner Week for Groupama

While a broken mast and serious injury to bowman Brad Marsh could have easily sidelined Groupama, the team pulled together to complete Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race in third place – and won both the DHL Shore Crew Award and the DHL In-Port race in Itajaí as a result.

Groupama's troubles in Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 began after the team rounded Cape Horn and their mast snapped. Bowman Brad Marsh cut himself seriously while trying to cut down the rigging and suddenly, the competition went from a race to win to a race for survival.

While the longest leg of the 2011/2012 Volvo Ocean Race, between Auckland and Itajaí, claimed nearly all the boats as victim – only winners PUMA Ocean Racing Powered by Berg didn't stop for repairs – Groupama's troubles won them the DHL Shore Crew Award.

The award, handed out in Itajaí late last week by Joakim Thrane, CEO DHL Express Brazil, recognized the behind the scenes efforts of the shore crew, which includes boat builders, sail makers and others, to make the competing yachts as competitive and seaworthy as technically possible.

After a broken mast forced the team to dock off the coast of Uruguay over night, the crew, under the leadership of Ben Wright, shore team manager for Groupama, worked feverishly to construct a make shift mast (or a jury rig) to complete the leg. The jury rig enabled skipper Franck Cammas to help the team sail at the incredible rate of 21 knots to place third in this leg.

Awaiting the team’s arrival in Itajaí was a replacement mast. DHL managed and coordinated the complex and delicate transportation of the 31.5 meter (103 feet) long, custom-built carbon mast from Amsterdam to Itajaí.

“As the Official Logistics Partner of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012, DHL is proud to honor Groupama for its hard work, tenacity and expertise shown when faced with adversity,” said Thrane.

“Groupama came together and worked around the clock to ensure not only that they completed the race, but stayed competitive.”

That teamwork and competitive nature paid off Saturday, too, with Groupama taking first in the DHL In-Port race before the teams headed off for Leg 6 through the tropics to Miami.