Assistance Team. To be as autonomous as possible...
This 7th Route du Rhum proves it once more today with Steve Ravussin's capsizing, an assistance team has to be ready for anything, anytime. Technical stopovers, repair sessions remote-controlled by the shore team, rescue squad ready for intervention : the solo sailor has never been so well surrounded ! A closer look at an organisation that has to be perfect even in the slightest details, with Yann Marilley, responsible for that sensible management for the Gitana Team.

"Everything has to be imagined, we have to anticipate as much as possible and determine all the procedures with a maximum of details", says Yann Marilley. The news of Steve Ravussin's accident today only came to reinforce that conviction. Damages or accidents can happen anytime, and the assistance team has to be on the edge until the boat has crossed the finish line. "In the Gitana Team, people have a lot of experience individually, which allows us to react very efficiently. For example, Olivier Wrozynski, Gitana X's boat master, went to help Loïck Peyron in his attempt to tow Fujifilm, and has participated in Laurent Bourgnon's Primagaz retrieval. The road book I had prepared 2 months prior to the start of the Route du Rhum for Lionel Lemonchois included a list of towboats companies in Spain...

In the starting blocks 24hrs a day

"This said, there are not only these type of extreme cases, and my job is mainly to be ready for all the events and mishaps : in this document I call the road book, all the possible stopovers are listed (in France, Spain, Portugal, Madera, the Azores etc.), each one with the map of its marina, the name and the phone number of the local contact. For each city or port, we have an itinerary ready, taking into account all the means of transportation available : do men and gear have to travel by plane, train, boat, truck ? Everything is planned, almost minute by minute. For each job (sails, fibre, electronics etc.) there's a box of equipment. Whatever the problem may be, all the boxes leave : the skipper may have called us for a problem on the auto-pilot, and have torn a sail by the time we get there ! Which implies, when the boat is racing, that a team is constantly ready to leave 24hrs a day, and that all the team members remain easy to reach at all times.

Even if we're not talking about a capsized boat, the intervention has to be quick, because the trimarans sail so fast that a simple stopover can have terrible consequences. Which is partly what happened to Marc Guillemot, who stopped in the Azores for sails problems : he left the archipelago Sunday night, in last position, but it's true that they also worked on the boat's structure".

About the Route du Rhum

Gitana X. Away for the winter

The weather has been compliant : Gitana X's mast has been un-stepped, and the platform went back inside the Multipole 56 yard in La Trinité-sur-Mer. The boat will stay there all winter long (until early march 2003), allowing the technical team to make all the modifications and settings necessary for the coming season. The boat has completely been emptied, the engine has been wintered, the electronics taken away, along with everything that could be put outside, in order to make the maintenance job easier. Various tasks have to be carried out, and the work has been dispatched among the Gitana Team members, because the three months to come promise to be quite intense.

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