Gitana 11 qualified !
Like all the entrants in the 2006 Route du Rhum, Lionel Lemonchois, skipper of Gitana 11, had to complete a preliminary formality before being able to set sail on 29 October in the eighth edition of this major ocean event: a qualification course in race configuration… and also solo! And the Norman skipper at the helm of the blue trimaran swallowed up the 3,000 kilometres or so in some 5 days, during the course of which he encountered some varied and particularly demanding conditions that gave him a chance to test Gitana 11 and to rediscover the unique sensations of major ocean sailing.

“I set off in 30 knots of wind, two reefs per ORC… that gives you a bit of an idea right from the start! I was then lucky enough to experience highly varied conditions which allowed me to discover the boat in more or less all configurations. I strung it out with a week of solo training to update the list of small modifications before this week's work. The recent confirmation of my involvement is, in the end, a very good thing… everything's been happening very quickly and I haven't had time to ask myself questions, as I've got a boat to prepare for the start, and that's tomorrow! I've also speeded up the physical preparation, which is a really important aspect. The boats have to hold out, but so do the men!” offered Lionel Lemonchois on his arrival.

After a further week's solo training, Gitana 11 was taken onto dry land yesterday, Monday 21 August, for a week's repair work. Her return to the ocean is planned for Wednesday 30 August.

Meanwhile, Gitana 12 and Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, who are already qualified, have resumed training with a top-drawer coach in Loick Peyron, the Gitana Team's sporting director. On the programme is 48 hours of faux-solo sailing, during which Thierry will have to forget the presence of Loick, who will only intervene if necessary. The main reason for his presence will be to pass on his knowledge and expertise to the young skipper, who will be contesting a solo event for the very first time.

Before the start of the Rhum, the two Gitanas will be taking part in the final meeting of the Cafe Ambassador Multi Cup, the Grand Prix du Port de Fécamp, from 8 to 10 September.

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