This scenario had been on the cards the day before. Rumours of gale force winds were rife. None of the skippers seemed overly keen to get out on the water with the prospect of strong winds kicking in around midday. By yesterday morning however, contradictory weather files announced 15/20 knot winds which would make it possible to run the regatta after all. So, according to plan, both Gitana X and Gitana 11 left the dockside in company of their fellow competitors. But no sooner had the boats reached the race area, than wind speed increased to 25/30 knots, and it became obvious that there was no choice but to cancel the race.
Early yesterday morning, the Gitana Team, skippers, crew and shore anticipated the scenario :
Loïck Le Mignon, boat captain, Gitana 11 : « having us head out for the course, just to see if it is worth it is okay, but we'll be back straight away. It's true that the weather files provide contradictory information but we also know that wind speed readings are taken at the water's surface. As our masts are almost 30 metres high, we can easily add 5 to 10 knots to the forecasts found on the internet ! »
Frédéric Le Peutrec, skipper, Gitana 11:
« Noone is that keen on going out, given the conditions. If the forecasts turn out to be accurate, then they'll simply have to cancel. A week from now, we're starting out on a transatlantic race which is really tough for both the guys sailing and for the boats. We can't afford to take the risk of having part of the fleet penalised. That does nothing to detract from the fact that the prologue is an excellent initiative for livening up the pre-race period. But conditions have to be right for that to be run as best as it can be ! »
Erwan Leroux, co-skipper, Gitana X :
« We had intended to spend the day out on the water, but we'll be back earlier than planned. It livens up the harbour with the boats manoeuvring, and makes it a bit more interesting for the public. Yesterday morning, there were plenty of folk on the beach to watch us pitching about out to sea. You have to play the game when it's like that. ! »
In the days ahead, two days off for the crews who will be back in Le Havre by 11h00 on Wednesday for a safety briefing session. Shore crews will be returning to put the finishing touches to the trimarans for Sunday's start scheduled for 15h00 French time.