Most of the work carried out this winter on Gitana 11 concerned matters of balance for the appendages (dagger boards, central rudders and floats): « We need to make sure that the appendages are as efficient as possible whilst gaining in propulsive energy. Last week's training sessions ran perfectly in winds of 30, then 10 then 20 knots, which meant that we were able to go over several sail configurations and get to grips with the new feel of the boat. She is stiff to helm which we will sort out. Her dagger board and float rudders need to go back into the shed to be finished off and the central rudders needs to be slightly modified in terms of compensation. We are perfectly satisfied with the new mast which hardly deforms at all. The new sails by Incidences are perfect too.
Gitana 11 has been greatly improved in terms to course holding compared to her fellow fleet members. What we need to work on now is in gaining speed whilst retaining efficiency upwind (appendage trim). Groupama-2 is a little faster overall on all points of sail, upwind or downwind, but on a flat sea. We have not yet achieved 100% of the boat's potential and should make up for some of this shortfall in the next few days. In relation to two other trimarans, Géant is not fully optimised yet as she is waiting for her new dagger board and Banque Populaire-4 has already achieved the same level as her sister-ship Sergio Tacchini. The fact remains that a certain degree of chemistry is required between the trimaran and her crew. There is still room for improvement on that front compared with Franck Cammas' team who has seven years experience of this Championship, » as Frédéric Le Peutrec points out.
Another training session is scheduled for next week in Port La Forêt with Foncia (Armel Le Cléac'h) taking part too this time round after her launch in Vannes on Wednesday. A new confrontation against Groupama-2 (Franck Cammas), Géant (Michel Desjoyeaux) and Banque Populaire-4 (Pascal Bidegorry) will give the Gitana Team the opportunity to validate certain adjustments made in her base in Saint Philibert this week.
As for Gitana X, she has been training out in the Bay of Quiberon this week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday almost with her complete Grand Prix crew configuration on board: « All crew members have now found their bearings on deck. We started out in light air (an 8 knot westerly) then in wind speeds of around 20 knots. There is still quite a lot of work to be done in terms of co-ordination when the wind picks up. We need to work on anticipating things and being in the right place at the right time for the manoeuvres. This first set out outings spurs us on to getting more training in after our qualifying passage, and before the first Grand Prix in Calvi (Corse). Gitana X new cockpit layout affords greater ease when manoeuvring in the cockpit largely thanks to having done away with the winch pedestal. But it is difficult to say comment coherently on the extent to which her potential has improved until we have had the occasion to measure her performance alongside the other trimarans, » added the skipper of Gitana X.
On Wednesday morning, Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and Erwan Le Roux set out on a 1 500 mile long passage to qualify for the Transat Jacques Vabre starting out of Le Havre on 6th November bound for Salvador de Bahia (Brazil). A minor technical hitch with the boom brought then back to La Trinité sur Mer for repairs after which they will get underway again as soon as possible. « We'll be sailing a triangle once we are out on the open sea, from La Trinité/Mer, Cape Finisterre (Spain) and the Fastnet Rock (Ireland). Weather forecast is for winds of 10-25 knots with a start head to wind so lots of tacking, a close-hauled leg followed by a run downwind back to southern Brittany. This should take us all of 4 to 4 and ½ days. »
On 19th and 20th April, Gitana X will be taking part in the SNSM Trophy, a race from Saint-Nazaire to Saint Malo (250 miles) for the French national lifeboat organisation (Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer).