A pleasant breeze in Portugal
The two Gitanas have now taken up position in the marina at Portimao where, from 14 to 16 July, the Grand Prix du Portugal will unfold. What with glorious sunshine and a gentle wind, all the conditions are in place for a successful first Portuguese meeting. This round also marks the return of the fleet to Atlantic waters after 3 Grand Prix in the Mediterranean.
A first for Portugal
For the first time since the creation of the Multihull Championship in 1996, the trimarans are going to compete on a course that is exceptional on account of its specific configuration and meteorological features: Portimao Bay. These waters benefit from perfect conditions for hosting this type of competition and also boast a natural environment highly suited to this type of international sporting event. Its unique characteristics even led the ABN AMRO team to choose it as a training base during the Volvo Ocean Race 2005/2006.
A brief word on the day's sailing… are you starting to get to know this Portimao course?
Loick Peyron, skipper of Gitana 11: “We've been working with Gitana 12 on speed tests and training. It's an absolutely essential workout! The course is highly promising and quite tough but it should leave plenty of room for tactics rather than speed. The wind rises late, and the thermal has difficulty establishing itself…  It remains to be seen if that scenario will be repeated but if it does, it could be very interesting! Even though, technically speaking, we're in the Atlantic, there are still some really Mediterranean aspects, like the heat and slightly bizarre thermal…”
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, skipper of Gitana 12 : “It's been a very interesting day. The course at least seems pretty complicated, and there are definitely going to be opportunities to pull off a trick or two… now, it's just a case of working out which ones!”
You both have just one GP under your belt so far in this 2006 season. What are your targets for this Grand Prix du Portugal – Portimao?
LP:  “In sporting terms, our first objective will be to improve on our previous performances, as although we don't have a great deal of room for manoeuvre, we have to be more consistent. Marseilles was all about rediscovery for me and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to share these moments with the team.”
TDV : “We need to continue on the same path. Our aim is to learn and make progress. We've only discovered Gitana 12 this year and Marseilles was our first Grand Prix, but we managed to finish it off with a very satisfactory day. In terms of the whole team and the boat, the potential is definitely there! If we can keep in touch with the fleet while putting 1 or even 2 boats between us and the winner, I reckon we'll have done as well as can be expected.”
What about your rivals? What's your strategy going to be for upsetting Groupama-2?
LP: “Where speed is concerned, Groupama-2 really is the fastest, even in light air, not to mention the fact that the boat is extremely well skippered by Franck Cammas. So it's a tough challenge, but they're by no means invincible! We have to get under their skin and play the tactical card.
TDV: “From our own point of view, it's difficult to imagine us troubling them, although maybe we can make them sweat a bit if we can make steady progress… Regarding Gitana 11 and Géant, I believe that our boats are good enough in terms of pure speed but we lack the expertise and control necessary against the likes of Loick Peyron or Michel Desjoyeaux!”
Congratulations to the “fastest men in the world”…
4 members of the Gitana Team sailed alongside Bruno Peyron on the recent Atlantic crossing record. Aboard Orange II, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, Yann Guichard, Jean-Baptiste Epron and Ronan Le Goff shattered the previous record held by Steve Fosset by making the trip from New York to Cape Lizard in 4 days, 8 hours, 23 minutes and 54 seconds, an unbelievable average speed of 28 knots!
Gitana 11  crew at Portimao:
Loick Peyron (skipper/helmsman), Lionel Lemonchois (navigator), Yann Guichard (tactician), Daniel Souben (trimmer), Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant (trimmer), Jean-Baptiste Epron (trimmer), Ronan Le Goff (wincher), Christophe Lassègue (bowman No. 1), François Denis (Bowman No.2), Antoine Mermod (piano), Alexandre Quiblier (wincher)
Gitana 12 crew at Portimao:
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (skipper-helmsman), Baron Benjamin de Rothschild (performer), Erwan Le Roux (tactician), Mayeul Riffet (navigator), Alexandre Marmorat (trimmer), Mathieu Tatibouet (trimmer), Arnaud Derrendinger (trimmer), Antoine Carpentier (piano), Yann Le Govic (trimmer), Léopold Lucet (Bowman No.1), Fabrice Blondel (wincher)
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