Full house for the Edmond de Rothschild multihulls
It was at 10:00am on the dot that the starting gun of the 8th Tour de Belle-Ile fired from the Tara Expéditions yacht. For this 2015 vintage, nearly 500 boats set sail from the same start line set in the bay of Quiberon, south-west Brittany. For Gitana Team, who opted to have two of its boats at the start, the Multi70 and the GC32 Edmond de Rothschild, this event marked the team's official return to the racetrack. And it proved to be a rather successful return to business as each of them won their respective races in the long and short Tour de Belle-Ile. Aboard Gitana XV, Sébastien Josse and his men even treated themselves to a brand new event record; one which they themselves had held since 2011.
The Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild's double
Relaunched on 22 April 2015, the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild was keen to make the most of the Tour de Belle-Ile and come and debut her new appendages just a stone's throw from her Lorient base. Aware that this new platform would likely have teething issues with the various systems requiring substantial fine-tuning, Sébastien Josse's men were still keen to see how they faired against their 70-foot counterparts': “It's very nice to rediscover the adrenalin of competition. In fact it was a close-run thing as far as the South of Belle-Ile with quite a bit of contact with the crews of Sydney Gavignet and Jean-Pierre Dick, but I'm not at all surprised by this proximity. It was kind of expected given the scale of our boats on this short format course, which didn't allow us to make any major differences in terms of performance, and the weather we had to contend with. Indeed we had close-hauled conditions for the first section, but we were able to use a little more of the potential of our machine in the final section and get the edge on our rivals and finally go on to take the win. It's always nice to kick the season off in this way,” said the skipper of Gitana, grinning from ear to ear on his return to the dock.
With three victories in four participations, the racing stable fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has once again etched its name on the event's winners list after sailing an absolute blinder. Indeed, on crossing the finish line at 12h24'45'' local time, the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild won not just the 8th edition of the Tour de Belle-Ile, but also improved on the event record by nearly 20 minutes. That said, the record remains in the hands of the very same team, as the previous record was that set in 2011 by Sébastien Josse's crew on Gitana 11.
In this way, the men of Gitana XV have kicked off their race season with a fantastic double, gleaning precious information along the way for their next test period: “Though it's only a very short session on the water, it has already enabled us to gauge our performance and validate the broad outlines of the work carried out during the winter refit. It was essential in helping us draw up a jobs list of everything that still needs doing. I say it over and over again but we are only at the start of a steep learning curve and this first session on the racetrack has been rather positive. The boat has lost none of her velocity upwind and she has made gains on the downwind points of sail,” admits Sébastien Josse.
Successful baptism of fire for the GC32 Edmond de Rothschild
Whilst Gitana XV set sail on the long 42-mile Tour de Belle-Ile, her little 32-foot sister', the GC Edmond de Rothschild, was lining up for the start of the short Tour, a 39-mile circuit created for the smaller craft. The latter ensures that everyone has a chance to participate, but this short course means they can avoid the tough conditions along the western coast of Belle-Ile, where the swell very often puts the boats and the crews through the ringer. The helm of the flying catamaran was entrusted to Gurvan Bontemps, a newcomer to Gitana Team and a sports catamaran specialist. Imitating the crew of the Multi70, the five men on the GC32 Edmond de Rothschild dominated the short Tour de Belle-Ile, taking victory after just 2 hours and 45 minutes of racing. A more than honourable time given the tricky sea state for this type of boat and a very encouraging performance on this the team's first official race.
“It was a fine race aboard the GC32 Edmond de Rothschild. We didn't have any rivals in our category but that didn't dent our enjoyment in the slightest. Over the first section of the course, where we weren't really at an advantage because it was upwind, we still managed to play around with the AC45 Groupama, which was rather nice. For our types of boats, the format was reminiscent of an adventure challenge and it was more complicated to deal with the sea state and the gusts of around twenty knots the minute we left La Teignouse channel. I'm used to small sports catamarans and fairly early on the GC32 really is a great buzz to sail, as was the case on our return leg downwind towards Les Galères, said Gurvan Bontemps, as he was welcomed in by the other members of Gitana Team.
The perfect, dedicated training craft on which to develop their flying skills, Gitana Team and their GC32 will be treated to a transalpine escapade and the lakeside charms of the region in a little over a month's time. Indeed, with Sébastien Josse back on the helm, supported by Gurvan Bontemps, Benjamin Amiot, Olivier Douillard not to mention Cyril Dardashti, the 32-foot catamaran will take the start of the famous Bol d'Or on 13 June, which is the reference sailing event on Lake Geneva.
Two races, one team
“The Team has made a fantastic return to the racetrack! I'm really happy for all the members of the team because, once again, a great deal of work and energy went into the winter refit to bring to life the ambitious projects we've got underway. With this double victory, we've satisfied our objectives and it's a great reward with which to kick off the season, all the more so given that we opted to share this race by getting the maximum number of Gitana's full-time workforce on the water. Congratulations and thank you to them!” concluded Cyril Dardashti, Gitana's Managing Director, he too one of the authors of these successes both on shore and at sea since he is one of the mainstays of the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild crew.
Overall ranking for the Tour de Belle-Ile 2015
- Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild - 2h24'45''
- Musandam Oman Sail - 2h 26'20''
- Paprec Recyclage - 2h29'30''
- GC32 Edmond de Rothschild - 2h45'10'' ( 1st in the short Tour)
Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild
Sébastien Josse (skipper)
Cyril Dardashti, Jean-François Cuzon, Antoine Koch, Olivier Douillard, David Boileau, Pierre Tissier
GC32 Edmond de Rothschild
Gurvan Bontemps (skipper)
Armand de Jacquelot, Grégory Gendron, Christophe Carbonnières, Benjamin Lamotte