This Corsican Grand Prix therefore has a special colour for the Gitana Team, all the more so given that Gitana X will also be lining up on the start with a crew of bright young things fired up and ready to go on their first Grand Prix. Whilst the season's first ocean race from Lorient to Nice showed that the winter lay-up has certainly paid off in the case of both Gitana, this event in Calvi is important to validate the developments in a context of short intense racing. Frédéric Le Peutrec and his crew came out top last September in Calvi ahead of Karine Fauconnier and Franck Cammas. Conditions were medium, nearing light towards the end. But fierce battles were fought out on the course. In a seven strong fleet, it is not easy to remain in contact. You have to mark your opponents continually if you are to keep them at bay, the final scoreboard being built progressively as each round is sailed. Speed and tactics have to be reconciled on a course which is difficult to interpret in light air and much easier to get to grips with in medium conditions. Twenty-four hours from the start of the 250 mile long Round Corsica Race which opens this first Grand Prix, it is still pretty difficult to determine what the weather has in store. On Sunday, there was a 30 knot wind, by Monday morning it had turned into a 15 knot breeze, falling off almost completely to a meagre 5 knots by the evening. Come Tuesday morning, the wind had increased again to 20 knots and dropped of again by the afternoon. The Mediterranean remains true to form, every bit as difficult to forecast in advance !
Whatever the configuration, the Gitana Team is ready to attack and has already been able to get into shape during the intensive training sessions since Saturday for Gitana X and Monday for Gitana 11.
Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11) :
« On Monday we had a training session with five other trimarans but there was not much wind (2-6 knots). The fleet is fairly homogenous – there really is little to separate them. Gitana 11 demonstrated her potential with a rapid start in gusty conditions and clear improvements in the way she gets up to speed and in tacking. The textile mainsheet replacing the previous hydraulic system allows for sensitive trimming and makes the team more reactive when it comes to hauling in and easing out the sheets. Groupama-2 was no more impressive than Géant, TIM or Foncia… Meanwhile, alternatively, everyone was well placed.
Daniel Souben has joined us on tactics replacing Yann Guichard and it is all going pretty well. With Alex Quiblier on the winches, Jean-Baptiste Levaillant and Jean Le Huérou-Kérisel trimming, we have renewed the crew a little but these two first days of fleet races turned out to be very positive.
In 2004, the Grand Prix de Corse was the last but one meeting before the end of the season, this time Calvi marks the opening of the Grand Prix series after the Lorient-Nice race… We've all had a chance to warm up on an ocean race but have not raced windward-leeward loops yet this year. This is anybody's race as all of the trimarans have evolved. We're in for a close fight! »
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana X) :
« The crew is really starting to find its bearings even if there is still a way to go to get everything properly coordinated. Our objective on this first Grand Prix of the season is to have the new recruits see what this type of racing is all about and validate the modifications made over the winter. We are aware that we are at the start of our learning curve and that we need to keep improving with each event. We have already made noticeable progress but we know that in choppy seas, Gitana X falls short in terms of speed to the tune 8 to 13 knots.
We have also managed to stick to the programme we set ourselves, both in terms of preparation for the two-handed races with Erwan for the Transat Jacques Vabre, and for the Grand Prix training sessions. We have been out in the Bay of Calvi twice on our own but have not yet sailed with the other trimarans since last year. A third of the crew has never sailed this type of course yet. It obviously takes a little bit of time to get used to it but everyone is highly motivated. »
Crew - Gitana X
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (skipper-helm), Erwan Le Roux (tactician), Mayeul Riffet (pit-navigator), Mathieu Tatibouët (mainsail trimmer), Yann Le Govic (mainsail trimmer), Jacques Guichard (trimmer), Caroline Vieille (trimmer), Arnaud de Boringer (wincher), Xavier Dagault (wincher), Antoine Carpentier (foredeck / n°2), Léopold Lucet (bowman / n°1)
Crew - Gitana 11
Frédéric Le Peutrec (skipper), Baron Benjamin de Rothschild (performer-navigator), Daniel Souben (tactician), Jean-Baptiste Levaillant (trimmer), Jean-Baptiste Epron (mainsail trimmer), Jean Le Huérou-Kérisel (trimmer), Alex Quiblier (wincher), Loïc Le Mignon (wincher), Antoine Mermod (pit), François Denis (foredeck / n°2), Christophe Lassègue (bowan / n°1)
Trimarans entered in the Grand Prix de Calvi
Foncia : Armel Le Cléac'h
Banque Populaire : Pascal Bidégorry
Géant : Michel Desjoyeaux
Gitana X : Thierry Duprey du Vorsent
Gitana 11 : Frédéric Le Peutrec
Groupama-2 : Franck Cammas
TIM-Progetto Italia : Giovanni Soldini