Impressions after having cooled off
The first Grand Prix of the season in Calvi has given both boats of the Gitana Team the occasion to measure progress made over the winter months, together with the chance to appreciate the abilities of the crews to adapt and co-ordinate their work up on deck. Several new crew members joined the team in Corsica.

It is already clear that Groupama-2 will be tough to beat in Grand Prix, at least in light air conditions as on Sunday. Unlike her competitors, the newest ORMA circuit boat to hit the water is able to pick up speed easily after a manœuvre. Even if every team carried out major optimisation work this winter, it is likely to be difficult to make up for this slight deficit as it strikes at the roots of the boat's conception. Her mast is further aft, floats and central hull are very slim, her hulls are narrower on the waterline. She is also much more aerodynamic. But the Corsican Grand Prix demonstrated that Gitana 11, just like Banque Populaire, Géant and Foncia, is able to threaten this supremacy when weather conditions are not that well established.   The grand slam performance put on by Franck Cammas and his crew is unlikely to come about again this season. If the Gitana Team can avoid making costly mistakes, then there is no reason why victory should not be within their reach. They came close to winning in the two rounds raced in a blow on Saturday. 

As for Gitana X, with half of her crew racing in Grand Prix for the first time, results are encouraging indeed. The trimaran has made significant progress in terms of speed. The guys (and girl) on board showed that they were able to do an excellent job, although there is still room for progress. Whilst victory is not a reasonable hope, they may make it to one of the top three places. Several of the new Gitana Team members describe their impressions after the Corsican Grand Prix.

Jean-Baptiste Levaillant, master sailmaker with Incidences and trimmer on board Gitana 11:

He is the most experienced crew member, with the greatest number of titles to his name and the most highly sought-after crew member on the trimaran circuit. He has been sailing on all types of racing multihulls for more than twenty years with Loïck Peyron (Fujicolor), Karine Fauconnier (Sergio Tacchini), Franck Cammas (Groupama-1, Groupama-2), Marc Guillemot (La Trinitaine)…  :
« I enjoyed the round Corsica race on Saturday. Gitana 11 is at home in a blow and with the exception of Groupama-2, the rest of the fleet only threatens us in light air. Gitana 11 is an excellent boat offshore, light to handle and very fit. As soon as there is a bit of wind and choppy sea, her hull forms and configuration give her extraordinary potential. She finds the going tougher in light air and calm seas when the rest of the fleet sail fast. We thoroughly deserve our second place. Groupama-2 sails in another dimension. She is hardly more than one year old, is designed with a heavier accent on Grand Prix racing and can be upgraded more easily and has lower drag in light air. However, she is not such a mean machine offshore which is something her crew will have to sort out. I did the IB Group Challenge (Lorient-Nice) on Groupama-2, and downwind in a blow, I much prefer sailing on Gitana 11 ! I was impressed of the coast off Tunisia as Groupama-2 really gets going and there is no way of knowing how it is going to end up. With  Gitana 11, there is no feeling that you are racing on a razor-blade, although she sails every bit as fast. »

Daniel Souben, tactician on Gitana 11 :

As a specialist of high performance and Tornado catamaran sailing, Daniel has been racing on the ORMA circuit for over five years alongside Lalou Roucayrol (Banque Populaire), Franck Cammas (Groupama) and Stève Ravussin (Banque Covefi) :
« The boat is at ease in a blow and the team knows her inside out. There is still room for improvement in trimming in light air but Gitana 11 is not quite so at home in these conditions.  It is tough to attack Groupama-2. On Saturday's racing in a blow, we could have finished out front but she always manages to hold onto a slight margin of facility, particularly in changing tack. There is a fair bit of homogeneity between Gitana 11, Foncia, Géant and Banque Populaire, and we are going to have to keep on our toes as the crews tend to make fast progress too. »

Erwan Le Roux, tactician on Gitana X :

Ex-crew member with Marc Guillemot on La Trinitaine, then on Gitana X last year, he is now Thierry Duprey du Vorsent's right hand man and will be teaming up with him in the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre in November of this year. This is the first time he has acted as strategist on a trimaran in a Grand Prix :
« It was great! We pulled off something extraordinary as we had two boats behind us in the overall rankings. That had never happened to Gitana X before! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, even if crew cohesion was not perfect in the manœuvres, particularly when at close quarters with the fleet. Saturday showed us that the crew is quick to learn. We still need to race a couple more Grand Prix to be operational in 20 knots of wind. The boat sails well in a blow but there is still a great shortfall in wind speeds of 8 - 13 knots. She manages to hold her own in winds of between 5 and 8 knots but has no bonus in relation to the others. There is not much lacking for Gitana X to be able to sail faster in light air as her inertia is to her advantage. We just have to work on trim.»

Xavier Dagault, wincher on Gitana X :

Longtime crew for Loïck Peyron on Fujicolor and Fujifilm before joining Marc Guillemot on La Trinitaine, then Frédéric Le Peutrec on Gitana 11 last season. He is the most experienced crew on Gitana X :
« This is the first time that I have sailed on Gitana X. I was pleasantly surprised by the way the boat sailed, particularly in a blow. Looking in from the outside, the trimaran did not appear to be fast in any conditions last year, except in a strong wind. On Saturday, Gitana X showed that her potential was close to that of the best boats in the fleet when there is wind. When Sunday's light air came around, she just could not keep up. The crew had a tough time in 20 knot winds but continued to make progress with each round. There is room for manoeuvre ! Our coordination is not up to scratch, which is only to be expected with half the crew being much less experienced, sailing their first Grand Prix. »

Arnaud de Boringer, wincher on Gitana X :

Arnaud has an Olympic sailing background and has already taken part in a Grand Prix in 2002 on Banque Populaire. He is one of the French squad's coaches for the next Olympic Games in Peking in the 49er class. In Calvi, he was standing in for Alex Marmorat, who was unavailable :
« I've seen many a change on these boats in the last two years. I had no preconceived ideas about Gitana X although had heard that she had a hard time keeping up with the fleet. In fact, she sails well in certain conditions – a top three place is even possible. Coordination and communication still need to be worked on so that everyone has the same perception of what is going on in a manoeuvre or when trimming. Experience is lacking so that an instruction is understood in the same way by all on board. Some skippers must have had one or two surprises! In some phases, there will always be a slight shortfall. But third place at the end of the season should be perfectly possible in a Grand Prix ! »

Jacques Guichard, in charge of sails and trimmer on Gitana X :

In his second season on Gitana X, this former master sailmaker used to work with Jean Baptiste Levaillant. The combination of youth and experience added to a crew getting to know Grand Prix : 
« The first few days were tough for the crew in winds of over 20 knots. That was only to be expected as we had not got much practice in before Calvi, and never in such tough conditions. In spite of having made several mistakes in terms of manœuvres, we never let up and always managed to have a boat behind us by the time we crossed the finishing line, with excellent work at the first windward buoy. Positive all round for neophytes and a trimaran which is slightly behind the fleet in terms of performance – particularly in light air. The crew still needs to make progress but the boat has never the less developed well compared with last year. »

Final overall rankings - Grand Prix de Corse (after seven rounds) :

1-Franck Cammas (Groupama-2) 7 points
2-Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11) 18 points
3-Pascal Bidegorry (Banque Populaire) 22 points
4-Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant) 27 points
5-Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana X) 40 points
6-Giovanni Soldini (TIM-Progetto Italia) 41 points
7-Armel Le Cléac'h (Foncia) 48 points

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