Geared up for an express but full-on passage
Some 48 hours till the big day itself, scheduled for Sunday at 13:00 GMT offshore of the Pointe du Grouin, the weather scenario is revealing its initial trends. Gitana Team's routing cell, which will accompany Sébastien Josse remotely day and night throughout his crossing, is already in action. With a medium to strong southerly wind of 15-20 knots, which could well serve up some relatively ordered seas beyond the areas churned up by the spectator boats, the start of this 11th edition promises to produce perfect conditions for the latest generation maxis to really work their magic! The next stage is already shaping up to be more bracing with a quick exit from the English Channel and a very deep low rolling in from the North to negotiate over the first days of racing.
This morning, Sébastien Josse and three of his four musketeers' put their heads together to run through the different weather scenarios and review the analysis concocted by Nicolas Lunven, the only member of the routing team already in position in Lorient. Start, first few hours of racing, including the highly crucial exit from the Channel, the drop down to the Azores, the position and strength of the trade winds every element was up for discussion! “Conditions will be very manageable at the start with a southerly wind of between 15 and 20 knots. It's perfect for setting sail on a reach (beam onto the wind). According to today's grib files the exit from the English Channel is likely to involve a single tack towards Ushant. The first few miles will be very important going forward. We'll have to be straight onto the pace and be sure not to dawdle. Once we've passed the north-west tip of Brittany, I'll have to negotiate what is a fairly classic first depression for this time of year, but there will soon be another one looming on the horizon. This one looks very extensive, very deep and a lot punchier than the previous one. It's rolling in from a long way off and is loaded with cold air. The forecasts are indicating 45 knots and a 10-metre swell for the time being there. Suffice to say that we have no desire to go to such places. This transatlantic promises to be quick - pulling off a sub-6-day time really isn't out of the question, but it's going to be full on!” explains Sébastien Josse, now fully focused, his mind already in the race.
The moment the start line is crossed, it's war! On the water, there is no doubt about that, and on shore it's the same for the teams' routing cells. Indeed, the guardians will take it in turns day and night to survey the solo sailors and support them in their competitive feat. In fact, in the Ultimes category, the demanding nature of the helming and the management of the machines are such that, for obvious security reasons, the skippers are allowed weather routing. In this way, Sébastien Josse and his five adversaries are supported in their reading of the race zone and their course choices throughout the theoretical 3,542-mile course.
The skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild will be relying on a unique group of experts; men who have been carefully selected and will be alongside him 24/7 within the Gitana base in Lorient to lend him a helping hand in his quest for victory. Presentation of each person's role
Who makes up the routing cell for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild?
Racer emeritus, a recognised Figaro sailor with two event victories in the main event to his credit, Nicolas is also a fine meteorologist. He is in charge of the routing cell during the Route du Rhum. Nicolas is working for Sébastien Josse and the Gitana Team for the first time, but he quickly found his bearings on shore and at sea during the preparation phase. Precise and meticulous, he will be one of Sébastien's privileged links during his transatlantic passage.
His role: general meteorological analysis, choice of routing strategy
Co-skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild last year in the Transat Jacques Vabre, and the team's replacement skipper, Thomas has been at the heart of the project since the launch of the latest addition to the Gitana fleet. Aside from Sébastien Josse, he is the one who has racked up the greatest number of miles and the most comprehensive technical know-how on this boat. A friend of Sébastien's for a long while, this boardsports buff knows the sailor really well and will be the best person to decipher what shape the skipper is in during the race. This analysis will be crucial for the team so they know how to find the right balance for the skipper.
His role: Bridge between the theory and the practice, general strategy.
Head of performance within Gitana, Olivier will logically fulfil this role in this the first singlehanded race by Sébastien Josse aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild.
Sailor and loyal right-hand man to the sailor for many years, just like Jean-François Cuzon, he can read what will happen aboard on both a technical and a human level.
His role: Analysis of the performance and strategy of the route choices.
Sailor and former crew for Sébastien, particularly during his time in IMOCA, he is one of the key players in terms of the electronics, the servo-control and also the autopilots. The creator and director of the Pixel sur Mer company, Jean-François has a dual role that is as rare as it is useful.
His role: Research and collection of satellite information and other data
CEP 06 november 00h UTC