Passing the baton
At 5:30 GMT this Monday morning, following a three-month refit, Gitana’s shed doors opened to release the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. Taking a front row seat to witness this relaunch, Sébastien Josse made no secret of his enthusiasm or his eagerness to get back behind the helm of the flying maxi-trimaran: “Today is about passing the baton! The team has once again given their all this winter to prepare the boat and enable us to tackle this new season with an optimised machine. I’m itching to get back out to sea and see how the Maxi has developed thanks to the work completed over recent months. We have a very fine programme awaiting us and all with fantastic timing!” explained the delighted sailor from Nice.
Since the completion of her build and her very first launch, on 17 July 2017, everything has happened very quickly for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. The first six months of activity for the 32-metre giant were rhythmical to say the least, as testified by the 15,000 miles she covered, which equates to two transatlantic crossings, one of which was in race format and resulted in a 2nd place for Sébastien Josse and Thomas Rouxel in the Transat Jacques Vabre. For this first winter refit, the shore crew managed by Pierre Tissier were keen to review the platform together and repair any worn or damaged parts, as well as improve certain systems using the feedback gleaned during last year’s sailing trips: “Making things reliable and optimised was unquestionably the nub of this first refit. The appendages took up the bulk of the winter work as no fewer than five people worked on them full time for 70% of the time I’d say. That’s the novelty factor of this new generation flying maxi-trimaran. Our priority was the repair of the foils broken during the Jacques Vabre. We identified some mechanical issues relating to these two key pieces and we hope that this design fault is now behind us. All the lifting surfaces have been dismantled, reviewed and optimised. The hydraulics and the associated circuit also required a fair amount of time and effort. In fact, we’ve improved on the whole pump and ram system thanks to the precious collaboration of Harken, who we’ve been working closely with since the design of the Maxi.”
Moreover, Sébastien Josse, David Boileau, the boat captain, as well as Sébastien Sainson, one of the managers of the Gitana design office, went over to Pewaukee in the United States this winter to visit the headquarters of the world specialist in deck hardware.
In late January, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild’s lift-out coincided with the team’s move to the Keroman submarine base in Lorient. This building spanning over 1,400m2, constructed by Gitana Team and specially devised for the extraordinary proportions of the latest boat from the family saga, is a remarkable work tool, which the five-arrow team has been able to put to good use for the past three months. “Technicians, engineers and architects from the design office, management... we can all come together at the core of the project in optimum working conditions. Like good appendages, this new base is a major asset and the infrastructure is right in line with the performance and excellence we target with our boats. The space and the equipment we benefit from give us great independence and better control of our schedules. Once again, we’re extremely lucky that the owners of the boat, Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild, were keen to invest in this project and take their approach even further. Though this base is essentially dedicated to Gitana Team, which has priority here, today we are also in a position to accommodate our rivals’ projects in terms of one-off refits and project management,” Cyril Dardashti revealed.
Atlantic training sessions
This year’s sporting objective is the Route du Rhum, a famous singlehanded transatlantic race which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018! Between now and 4 November, the date on which one hundred and twenty-two sailors will set sail from Saint Malo bound for Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe, Sébastien Josse has put together a programme that perfectly matches the conditions he’ll have to face up to in the 3,500-mile race. “We have a few days of setting things back in motion in Lorient and offshore of Brittany and then we’ll make towards Portugal at the end of the month for a week’s sailing not far from Lisbon. After that, the aim is to link together two transatlantic crossings; one singlehanded and the other most certainly shorthanded. The programme is very open so we can essentially adapt it around the weather at the time. The idea is most likely to involve sailing between Cadiz and San Salvador, a route which provides sailing conditions that are very similar to that of the Route du Rhum. For the return trip, we’ll set sail from New York to test Gitana 17 in the slightly more aggressive conditions of the North Atlantic. The idea is to set sail on well-known routes with timing references but not necessarily in record mode. To get records, you need perfect weather conditions and to do that you have to devote your time to being on stand-by, which isn’t our case this year,” explained the skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild.