One last outing
The two Gitanas arrived in St Malo on Thursday 19 Octoberafter a final trial run for the trimarans from La Trinité/mer. With a few days to go before the cannon shot sounds the start of the Route du Rhum / La Banque Postale, Lionel Lemonchois and Thierry Duprey du Vorsent are feeling composed and collected.

After a short break with their families until Wednesday, the two skippers will then comply with the media requirements, the safety checks and the organisers' briefings. The two trimarans are perfectly ready to face the 3,550-mile route between Saint-Malo and Pointe-à-Pitre on this eighth edition of the Route du Rhum. All that remains is to load the supplies and commence weather monitoring in order to get in tune with the situation to come.

How was your final voyage?

Lionel Lemonchois: “It all went very well, with a lively sea and wind! After setting sail on Wednesday afternoon, I crossed the Chenal du Four during the night, with a shift in wind direction at the Héauts de Bréhat and forty knots full in the face… And I arrived at Saint-Malo on Thursday at 7am for an 8am sas: perfect timing! Everything went fine on board and there are just a few small jobs to be carried out such as tidying the boat, a few rope adjustments, loading the food, etc.”

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent: “This was my last time at sea before the start of the Route du Rhum: we took all the race sails to test them one last time. We set off with mainsail and gennaker up and then finished with three reefs in the main and a jib for stronger wind. We assessed the whole set of sails for the Rhum. Overall, everything's working onboard Gitana 12 and we only need to tweak a few ropes and storage compartments with the technical team.”

What about the food?

Lionel Lemonchois: “I've chosen quite varied supplies, from hi-energy cakes and drinks to freeze-dried meals and tins of sardines…”

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent: “I'm bringing three freeze-dried dishes per day for a 12-day duration, plus a few extras like ham, sausage, cheese, and fresh and dried fruit. And also Renutril, which is a liquid food used in hospital drips with over 2,500 calories in one box: it doesn't need heating and is very easy to swallow.” 

Before the start?

Lionel Lemonchois: “I'm going to take a break for four days and then come back to Saint-Malo on Wednesday morning for the general Route du Rhum briefing. The days after that will be devoted to monitoring the weather and to meetings with the partners and journalists. Gitana 11 should leave on Saturday evening to pass through the lock before the start on Sunday at 13:02.”

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent: “I don't have much pencilled in for the last week, but on Friday afternoon, I'm going to take Gitana 12 to visit the youngsters at Cancale sailing school, which means a lot to me as it's the place where I first started to sail properly. I'm also going to give a talk to a class of schoolchildren on Monday morning, before sorting out my final personal preparations and supplies at home. I've also decided to spend an hour a day with each member of my shore crew to discuss the equipment one last time: with Marie for the emergency lamination kit, with Richard for the rigging, with Sylvain and Mayeul for the weather…”

The race itself?

Lionel Lemonchois: “I haven't been thinking about the actual race that much but I know that, in the final few days, it all starts going round and round in your head… You just can't wait to get started! I'm not concerning myself with the opposition yet, I'll just see what happens on route. But I've got faith in my own ability and it's definitely going to be an exciting contest… I also know I've got an excellent boat and that the difference between success and failure will be down to me. I'm going into the race relaxed and under no pressure.”

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent: “The boat is ready and so am I. I'm putting my opponents right out of my mind, as my primary aim is to reach Pointe-à-Pitre in what is my first solo experience in a trimaran. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself; I need to find my own rhythm, then adapt to the circumstances. This applies especially to the first two days' racing, where the key will be to get used to the ocean and tune in with the boat, without worrying too much about the rankings. After this settling in period, I'll see if I'm still in with a shout.”

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