Grand Prix Cap L'Orient. Training !
Although Gitana has been in Lorient (French Atlantic coast) since last week, training on location every day, Thursday 24th April marked the trimaran's first crewed race. But they were just two short training rounds which did not count in the overall scores.

Of the eleven boats entered in the Grand Prix – never before have there been so many – 9 lined up on the start for this warm-up round, an important moment and much-awaited by the Gitana Team. Light air (a 12-knot (22 km/h) south-westerly wind), glassy sea and a strong sun shining overhead. Lionel Lemonchois : "...Objective number 1 was to get the crew run in and to continue to familiarize ourselves with the boat. As far as manoeuvres go, things went rather well. We didn't make any mistakes. And when it comes to driving the boat, she is very sensitive and demanding to helm. We have quite found the right compromise between heading and speed. And the mainsail traveller is a little bit stubborn...".

In spite of the time spent improving the boat this winter, a lot still remains to be done. Nothing can replace getting out on the water and everything which is to be learnt from simply sailing her. Sébastien Schmidt, member of the Gitana Design Team : "We still haven't found the best adjustments for speed. But we set out to have a different boat and she has an enormous potential for optimisation similar to Formula 1 cars. The fist one to get this job right is the one who will go fastest in the end. That's what is so exciting about Gitana. We're getting a lot of spade work done...".

Still confident in the possibilities offered by his boat, Benjamin de Rothschild was very pleased to be on board. He even helmed on the second round : "...I'm pleased to be here with the boat in one piece, to be able to feel and see how everything works, the guys on board and from a technical point of view. And to realise quite how much work still remains to be done...".


Back to business, the three days of competition from Friday to Sunday with a 20-knot (36 km/h) south-westerly blow is forecast. Lionel Lemonchois : "I'd have preferred to have a little less wind for our first race meetings, as we have to find our feet. But then again, it give us the chance to see the boat sail against her opponents in more wind...". The crew is ready to face up to tougher conditions where we pull out all the stops.

At the debriefing at the end of the day, the most important thing to see was whether the boat had progressed compared to how she was beforehand basing the analysis on computer readouts. And she has made progress ! And it was also the opportunity to establish cohesion between the helmsman, tactician and navigator taking into account the parameter recorded out on the water.

For the first day's racing, three or four legs are planned. They will be windward-leeward loops, in other words, a beat head to wind and a run downwind on each round. Each leg can comprise several rounds. The course is set between the Ile de Groix and the access channel to the port of Lorient.

Lionel Lemonchois / F : Skipper
Benjamin de Rothschild : Performer
Nicolas Berthoud / CH : Mainsail
François Denis / F : N°1 / Bowman
Philippe Durr / CH : Tactician
Nicolas Engel / CH : Pit
Jean-Baptiste Epron / F : Mainsail trimmer
Marc Guessard / F : Navigator
Jean-Paul Levrel / F : Grinder
Yann Marilley / F : Runner
Olivier Wroczynski / F : Runner
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