The eve of battle
There are only hours to go before the start of the London-Alpes Maritimes race, the opening event of the Cafe Ambassador Multi Cup. And as Sylvain Mondon from Météo France explains below, the weather conditions look set to be very variable on the first part of the route. But this doesn't worry the crews of Gitana 11 and Gitana 12 or their respective skippers Frédéric Le Peutrec and Thierry Duprey du Vorsent. As they fine-tune their preparations, Gitana Team general manager Loïck Peyron takes advantage of the moment to define the team's strategy.
Loïck Peyron on…

• The race

“The advantage of starting off with an ocean race is that this type of event is a great leveller in terms of the differences in potential you tend to get in these Grand Prix races. But already, the Gitana Team's strategy is clear: we need to reach Gibraltar in good nick. Whether first or last, it doesn't really matter as long as the gaps are no more than twenty miles, because in the Mediterranean, it's not always a good thing to be out in front… Sometimes, it's better to hold back and wait for the right moment to attack, so as to avoid hitting a windless patch and then having to watch your rivals sail round it! In most races, of course, it's better to be in front as that puts you in a position of strength, but in the Mediterranean, the principles are not the same…”

• The team

“The technical team has worked really hard and they've continued to do so here in London during the build-up to the start. I've even had to order the Gitana 12 crew to get some rest and leave the deck so that they're not all washed up before the starting shot is even fired: they've been putting a great deal of effort in and that's fantastic to see, but it's vital not to forget about the race itself…”

• His role in the Gitana Team

“In the month I've been with the Gitana Team, I've been able to observe what a close-knit, enthusiastic and complementary unit it is. Due to my training and my own professional experience, I'm interested in everything, from the boat's construction to the crew, or from the choice of sails to the analysis of the weather. The Gitana Team is highly structured in terms of organisation, with everyone having their area of specialisation and the two skippers cementing it all together: they are the ‘generalists', surrounded by the ‘specialists'. My role is to be a sort of ‘super-generalist', to take an interest in and have an opinion on everything, and even sometimes suggest an alternative to the choices made. In any case, I am delighted to be part of the Gitana Team, which should be in its element on this first event between London and Les Alpes Maritimes.”
The weather, from Sylvain Mondon –Météo France
 “For the start, we're expecting a 10-15-knot westerly wind on the Thames, freshening 20 knots around the mouth of the river. In the late afternoon, there should be a significant drop, combined with a switching of the breeze to a southerly direction. There will then be a period of transition which is likely to hit the fleet fairly suddenly after the Thames, with light winds passing the Pas de Calais and, above all, breezes that are highly variable direction-wise.

In the Channel, the weather conditions are going to remain uncertain. They will depend on the position of a depression which is currently forming this Sunday morning and which will be completely formed by midday.

The chronology of events up until Gibraltar, i.e. from Tuesday onwards, after exiting the Channel, suggest that the trimarans are going to have to cross a new transition zone generated by a ridge of high pressure between the Gulf of Gascony and Iceland. The winds will still be there, light and highly variable. And on the other side of this ridge, there will be a new disturbed system which has already been in place for several days around the Azores and is slowly moving towards Europe. So the race promises to be slower than last season overall. The first days at sea will be marked by a string of transitions, so there'll be variable breezes and a succession of headwinds. Consequently, the field will be very open as the key phases will keep coming thick and fast: a lot of decisions will need to be taken very rapidly. As a result, the strategists will have particular responsibility on their shoulders and there are sure to be plenty of twists and turns!”

Gitana 11 Crew

Frédéric Le Peutrec (skipper-helmsman), Baron Benjamin de Rothschild (trimmer), Frédéric Guilmin (navigator), Daniel Souben (helmsman-trimmer), Ronan Le Goff (bowman), Antoine Mermod (pitman-trimmer)

Gitana 12 Crew

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (skipper-helmsman), Erwan Le Roux (helmsman-trimmer), Mayeul Riffet (navigator), Alexandre Marmorat (trimmer), Nicolas Raynaud (trimmer), Léopold Lucet (bowman)

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