Has the Gitana Team fulfilled its objectives ?
Yann Marilley : The answer is yes for both of the objectives we had set ourselves at the start of The Transat.
Gitana X : giving Marc Guillemot carte blanche to attack from the word go to get the most out of the boat, heavily modified at the end of last season. Gitana X underwent a major optimisation overhaul last winter with the fitting of new foil appendages. Trusting in Marc's great experience and fighting spirit, we were sure that he could pull something off on an upwind course such as The Transat. In spite of a flamboyant start in true Marco style, and a promising first day, Gitana X came unstuck when she broke her dagger board, no doubt after having stuck an object of some sort. Extremely disappointing for Marc but also for the whole of the shore team who had worked hard to optimise this magnificent. In just a few hours, Marc never the less showed us that Gitana X had greatly evolved even if there is still room to improve her upwind performance.
Gitana 11 : Fred Le Peutrec made it to the end of the race which is what we had asked him to do at the start of The Transat – gain experience for the Route du Rhum 2006 and bring the boat safely to the other side of the Atlantic. Two missions accomplished. As for the experience, this first transatlantic race seen through to the end was very instructive for Fred, who like many of his fellow racers had had to withdraw from the Route du Rhum 2002 a few days into the race. With a great sense of humility, for 11 days, Fred gathered a large amount of information in all domains. In how to manage a single-handed race, preserving the boat, using onboard computers, handling heavy weather, coping with fatigue and stress, linking up different weather sequences and withstanding pressure from the competition. Upon our request, Fred sailed at a lighter pace than the leaders, to be sure of being able to hold the distance. The five low pressure systems which marked the course causing many competitors to describe this as a particularly tough race, transformed this initiation for Fred into an ascension of the North Face. A shock which he was able to face up to with the support of all the team ashore and with the Baron Benjamin de Rothschild who regularly encouraged him by telephone during the race. When Jean (Le Houérou-Kérisel, technical manager) and I saw the boat's perfect condition at the Boston finish, we felt that Fred had just accomplished his first experience with the serenity of a great yachtsman. We do understand though that in his heart of hearts, he was frustrated at having been distanced by the damage to his Solent and the dagger board, and a rather unlucky weather option off Newfoundland.
The Gitana spirit : As the months have gone by, the consolidation of the Gitana Team spirit is the third point which has to be underlined as being one of the greatest satisfactions for the start of the season. The whole team is progressing, both the sailing team and the shore team, even if the sailing team gets talked about much more as they are the visible part of the iceberg. I would like to thank all of the guys ashore who prepared the two trimarans to perfection with an exemplary sense of solidarity. Gitana's team spirit is the current extension of a tradition of courtesy, solidarity and skill. A benchmark in the world of yacht racing, which has enabled us those who have shared in it to benefit, retaining a flavour of this art de vivre on the water. A human adventure shared by the thirty or so people who have worked with and for Gitana X and Gitana 11.
Upcoming events ?
Yann Marilley : Québec-Saint Malo of course. It's good to have two transatlantic races one month apart, even if it is a little demanding for all concerned. It means that you put into practice straight away the experience gained on The Transat and validate what has been learnt. Gitana X and Gitana 11 are going to set out on their short-handed delivery passage to Québec on 18th June. Gitana X will be leaving from La Trinité sur Mer with her new dagger board and will take about ten days to cover the 2,900 miles to Québec. Gitana 11 will be casting of from Boston the same day also crewed. Our technical team is waiting for them over there at the end of the month where they will set about putting the two boats into crew configuration and finish off one or two minor repairs. Whilst we remained humble about our aims in The Transat, we are proclaiming loud and clear our ambitions for the Québec Saint Malo – to finish up there with the leaders. Gitana 11 can achieve that. She is at ease on this sort of course, mainly comprised of fetching and running downwind. For Gitana X and Marc Guillemot, things will be a little more tricky as the boat has not yet fully developed her downwind performance potential. Excess structural weight penalises her further. But Marc's determination out on the course together with that of the crew may well surprise folks at the end of the day.
Crews for the Québec – Saint Malo
Gitana 11 : There will be a crew of seven on board Gitana 11, including the Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, who is part of Gitana 11's crew for all of the crewed events this season. He is particularly attached to this race which he ran back in 2000 on Gitana IX, the first 60-foot multihull to race under the Rothschild family colours. Gitana IX, was then helmed by Thierry Duprey, (who is on Gitana X with Marc Guillemot for the 2004 edition). She finished 6th in the wake of new generation trimarans, 1h 24mn behind the winner. A fine performance, widely applauded by all. We are taking on a second helmsman in the shape of Yann Guichard, who, like Fred, has an Olympic background, François Denis who was on Gitana IX in the Québec - Saint Malo 2000, Marc Guessard, Fred Brousse, and myself.
Gitana X : To make up for Gitana X's lack of speed, Marc has gathered around him a team of people he knows he can rely upon. Three faithful highly experienced sailors - Luc Poupon, Nicolas Raynaud and Olivier Wroczynski along with two excellent young guns - Thierry Duprey and Erwan Le Roux.