A painfully slow finish
The two Gitanas arrived in Nice on Monday evening to take fourth and fifth place in the London-Alpes Maritimes race. The end of the route was particularly slow due to the drop in wind in the late afternoon, with the final few miles being completed practically at a snail's pace …

This Baie des Anges is a real toughie! For between the tarmac of Nice Airport and the finish in front of the port, a distance of a little under five miles, Gitana 11 needed three hours to complete its 2,075-mile course… That's an average of scarcely two knots, and this after long spells at over 35 knots in the Gulf of Gascony! The irony is inescapable, especially as Frédéric Le Peutrec and his crew had done well to gain ground on the fleet's leaders the previous night after having tacked from Gibraltar to the Balearics without the rudder on the starboard float. The problem, which was only revealed on arrival in Nice, amounted to a definite handicap while sailing against the wind for these three hundred miles and leaves a particularly bitter taste as the twenty miles or more lost correspond to the gap with Michel Desjoyeaux on passing Levant island…

As for Gitana 12, Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and his five crewmen will retain great memories of the race which enabled them to get to know their new trimaran in all wind conditions. Having only just returned to the water after its four-month winter overhaul, the white trimaran suffered no technical problems and proved itself to be the equal of the other boats in the Café Ambassador Multi Cup. So this introductory race augurs well for the next stage of the programme, namely the Trophée du Conseil Général des Alpes Maritimes, in Nice next weekend.

Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11):

“It was a difficult race, like all those which finish in the Mediterranean… And we had no luck either, always having to chase after a favourable wind. But we've been in a very useful race which allowed us to experiment a lot with different strategies, both in the Channel and last night, when we went near the heart of the area of high pressure in order to shorten the route and make up for our delay. Unfortunately, things didn't work out for us, and then there was this rudder problem that complicated life and made us lose ground just when we were in with a chance. Of course we're a bit disappointed, especially as this morning (Monday), we really believed we could overtake Géant. The finish was really stressful when, with eight miles to go to the finish line, we found ourselves completely becalmed. It was a nightmare!... We had nothing left and knowing that Gitana 12 wasn't far behind, we were imagining the worst possible scenarios! I'm now hoping we'll have some decent wind for the Grand Prix this weekend.”

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana 12) :

“It was a really great race on a nice route, with a lovely boat. Yes, there was the end part in the doldrums, but that's part and parcel of the game. There were plenty of accordion effects in the gaps, and the event turned out to be quite complicated in terms of the weather. There was also no shortage of twists and turns and for me, it was an interesting learning curve to sail with a real sea-going vessel like this. While crossing the Gulf of Gascony, we even enjoyed a little spell at 40.7 knots. I'm ready to take her out again, as it was a bit too short... The crew really worked well together, as we are friends first and foremost. We all understand each other well and, more importantly, we know how to make the boat work well.

London-Alpes Maritimes race rankings:

1-Franck Cammas (Groupama 2) in 6d 21h 03' 04'' at an average speed of 12.67 knots over the 2,075 miles of the London-Nice route
2-Pascal Bidégorry (Banque Populaire IV) in 6d 21h 26' 36'': 23 minutes 32 seconds behind the winner.
3-Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant) in 6d 23h 33' 22'': 2 hours 30 minutes and 22 seconds behind the winner.
4-Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11) in 7d 04h 14' 03': 7 hours 10 minutes and 59 seconds behind the winner.
5-Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana 12) in 7d 05h 11' 42'': 8h 08' 38' behind the winner.
6-Antoine Koch (Sopra Group), 436 miles from the finish at 15:00 hours

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