Live from London
The start of the London-Alpes Maritimes race took place this Monday 8 March at 4.00pm (english time) downstream of the Thames tidal barriers. Gitana 11 and Gitana 12 were at the 4th and 6th place on the line .At midday, the stereotypical London fog and drizzle were present and correct for six trimarans' parade beneath Tower Bridge. It made for an entertaining spectacle, followed by a thirty-mile descent of the river under a gradually brightening sky.

The first event in the Cafe Ambassador Multi Cup looks set to offer more than its fair share of twists and turns, as the weather forecasts have predicted particularly variable conditions over the coming five days due to general disturbance and instability in both the Channel and Atlantic Ocean. Even during the start alongside pontoon number 6 in the Thames, the conditions were already somewhat unsettled and contrasting, as heavy showers alternated with bright patches and the south-easterly force 5 wind gathered pace beneath the clouds to unleash torrential downpours… But this situation was due to change very rapidly, with the front breaking up on itself and giving way to highly variable light air from the south. Right from the start, the tacking and reefing manoeuvres were flowing thick and fast, amidst a general chaos generated by headwinds in the currents of the outgoing tide. So the first night promises to be difficult for the two Gitanas and their crews, who will have to navigate in erratic winds amidst heavy maritime traffic off the Pas de Calais. Looks like a ‘white night' in prospect for everyone then!


Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, owner of the Gitana Team and trimmer on Gitana 11

“Ocean races offer a chance for me to live and share exciting moments with the Gitana Team members. It's like a cross between military service and boarding school! I'm starting on Gitana 11 but I'll no doubt follow 12's race with the greatest attention, as she'll be a formidable competitor, and so much the better. I am happy to see that the circuit has lost none of its impetus, and this start from London is a real challenge. I must thank and congratulate all the teams who have enabled the whole organisation of the Cafe Ambassador Multi Cup to go so smoothly, but also the media, owners, sponsors and crews for their patience.”

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, skipper of Gitana 12

“We have worked flat out for four days to finish preparing the boat, and it's also a good source of motivation for the crew to play a large part in this last-minute DIY, as they get to know the boat better. For a first race, the weather conditions are quite favourable in terms of allowing us to find our pace, monitor the boat, have time to tune into each other's wavelength and to gain in strength as the miles pass by.”

Frédéric Le Peutrec, skipper of Gitana 11

“On paper, the London-Alpes Maritimes race looks pulsating, tactical, technical and strategic, and hopefully not too many gaps will open up on any particular phase. The weather situation is pretty uncertain with not a great deal of wind at the start, and standing here on the deck with a few hours to go before the start, the positions are far from obvious. We're impatient to get stuck in now and get out to sea on a boat that we know is sound and capable of winning. It's a fine route and it'll be good to be back sailing again after four months in the boatyard. We need to jump straight back in at the deep end, and look - we've already got the showers!”

Mayeul Riffet, navigator on Gitana 12

“We're already a bit tired because we had to finish off some work on board the boat, but with the challenge of the race, that'll soon pass. We have pretty much the same crew as last year (Alex Marmorat is the only newcomer) and we're keen to see how we compare with the others. We know we were a little below par last season with Gitana X, but this time, we have a “V-10” like the others! So we're hyper-motivated for this first race of the Cafe Ambassador Multi Cup. What's more, the technical team has really pulled out all the stops throughout the last four months to create what is practically a brand-new boat and it's really inspiring to set out to sea thinking of their efforts. Starting off with an ocean race is quite good for us because we'll be able to test the boat and the crew under a wide range of different conditions, so we'll be able to validate everything, but in a less stressful situation than a Grand Prix. There's a lot of distance and time involved… Our strategy in the opening days is to check everything works, while taking care of the boat without falling too far behind, so as to be able to attack in the Mediterranean.”

Ronan Le Goff, trimmer on Gitana 11

“We're going to leave in fairly difficult conditions as it's already raining heavily, there's little visibility, and the winds are fairly variable… We already know that the sustained wind at the start with its strong showers and squalls is soon going to give way to calmer weather, but it'll be more variable and trickier to negotiate. Let's just say, we're not going to get any sleep tonight! But there will be early opportunities to try and break away… You have to be opportunistic and there will be a lot of work to do, both on the card table and on deck! Plenty of chopping and changing of position has to be expected throughout the race, with some fine close-up duels, escapes and comebacks… It will also be essential to be mentally strong so as to constantly keep the bit between our teeth. I don't know Gitana 11 that well yet, but we were able to do some training, and starting off with an ocean event is a good way of tuning into the boat. What's more, it's a pace that suits me well, because you have to strike a balance between reactivity and conserving energy…”

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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