Bad weather forecast for the Grand Prix de Fécamp
From Friday 27 to Sunday 29 Auguest, 11 ocean-going multihulls will contend the Grand Prix de Fécamp, the second Grand Prix of the season. This inshore event is the 5th rendez-vous in the 2004 Orma calendar, after the Grand Prix de La Trinité and two large offshore events : The Transat and the Québec – Saint Malo, which were completed mid-July.

After their participation in last week's Défi Petit Navire in Douarnenez, north-west France, won by Gitana 11 with a fine time comprising a 32.14 knot average, the two Gitanas made Fécamp last Sunday in order to continue their technical and sports preparation. On Monday Gitana 11 participated in an initial training day along with Géant, Sergio Tacchini, Foncia, Banque Populaire, Sopra Group, Banque Covefi, Médiatis and the new Groupama, while Gitana X and Sodébo remained quayside for some ultimate fine tuning. The training session planned for the following day, Tuesday, was cancelled due to the poor weather. Today, Wednesday, the weather situation is such that the planned session remains in the balance for late this afternoon.  Though the conditions are deemed to be navigable in the bay by the majority of the skippers, the exit from the port of Fécamp remains delicate for the multihulls with the wind blowing in from the west.  For the crews and the technical teams, the threat of last minute breakage may compromise a participation in the Grand Prix at the end of the week so the chances of any training sessions are reduced.

Tomorrow the wind should lighten enabling the 11 multihulls to sail one last time before getting their teeth into the first days of races on Friday,… weather permitting.

ITV with Marc Guillemot – skipper of Gitana X

« We really fought well in Douarnenez during the Défi Petit Navire. We made a number of attempts with a fine run on the 1st day of 29.5 knots, and though we never really managed to get close to Gitana 11's time, it confirms that Gitana X is a notch above where it was in 2002 and 2003.  This successful optimisation is already of great satisfaction to our shore team and crew.  For this Grand Prix de Fécamp, Gitana X will welcome aboard a new tactician, Jean Christophe Mourniac, with Yann Guichard having passed across to Gitana 11. Like Yann et Fred Le Peutrec, Jean Christophe also has a Tornado background. He was vice-champion of the world in Kingstone, Canada 1995 and ranked 3rd in the World Champinships in Sydney in 2000.  He has considerable experience in ocean-going multihulls after contending several Grand Prix as tactician aboard Bayer and Fuji.  I had the opportunity to sail with him at the beginning of the season on our Open 7.50, especially during the Spi Ouest France where he did a really good job.  This Grand Prix will be our first experience together on a multihull, but I'm not worried as he's someone who is calm and very competent.  As regards the weather for this Grand Prix, we expected a windy and rainy event with big seas which may prove fairly dangerous for the boats so we're going to have to be very vigilant. The training day tomorrow, Thursday, should be the only day which is relatively practicable for the end of the week.  When you look at the weather charts, I'm really not sure about Friday.  I'm really afraid that we're going to be pinned to shore.  However Saturday and Sunday will be easier days.  For the performances of the X, we know the boat's potential so our strategy will be the same as at the Grand Prix de La Trinité : we'll concentrate on the starts and the first tacks so as to stay more in contact with our rivals and then we'll try to contain their pressure as long as we can.»

ITV with Fred Le Peutrec – Skipper of Gitana 11

« The weather forecast for the Grand Prix de Fécamp leads me to believe that we're going to have a few problems contending all the legs planned in the programme. On other stretches of water you can handle 25 knots of wind but in Fécamp it can cause the sea to build and become quite messy which makes getting in and out of the port pretty tricky.  It would seem quite likely then that this leg of the Championship will be shorter than planned.  On the first day on Friday, conditions promise to be particularly delicate with 25 to 30 knots associated with very choppy seas.  Hopefully Saturday and Sunday should enable us to make up the required number of courses to validate the Grand Prix, which effectively means that we'll have to be able to race at least 4 legs.  Two years ago, we only raced two days and we completed 5 legs, so it could be a bit tight.  For Gitana 11, the harsh conditions are favourable to the boat though as it's powerful and perfectly prepared and honed to measure up against its main adversaries this weekend, namely the new Groupama.»

Sylvain Mondon – Forecast engineer Météo France – Weather adviser and router for the Gitana Team

« This Wednesday we have Force 7 with strong westerly winds averaging 25 – 30 knots veering north-west this evening as it drops off to 20 knots, with continued gusts at a sustained 30 knots.  The seas will remain big.
Thursday : The wind will ease off to 15-20 knots in the north-west as it backs to the west in the afternoon.  It will doubtless be the least windy day of the week.
Friday : The wind will freshen up once again in the south-west at 25-30 knots, with gusts at 30-40 knots.
This is a relatively classic pattern when the first unsettled conditions sweep across the region at the end of the summer. The cold air comes in from the north-west over a still relatively warm land and sea generating some fairly unstable conditions with more frequent storms and squalls than during the rest of the year. As a result this Grand Prix promises to be wet and fairly windy like this time last year.

Crew list for the Grand Prix de Fécamp

Gitana X

Marc Guillemot – Skipper
Antoine Carpentier
Yvon Daniel
Thierry Duprey
Jacques Guichard
Fred Le Mestre
Erwan Le Roux
Alex Marmorat
Jean Christophe Mourniac
Nicolas Raynaud
Olivier Wroczynski

Gitana 11

Fred Le Peutrec - skipper
Baron Benjamin de Rothschild
Nicolas Berthoud
Fred Brousse
Xavier Dagault
François Denis
Yann Eliès
Jean Baptiste Epron
Yann Guichard
Christophe Lassègue
Yann Marilley

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