This most unusual feature of this race is that each boat departs at the moment adjudged most opportune by its crew and supporting technicians, primarily on the basis of the weather conditions. Flying the flag for the Gitana Team is a twelve-man team led by Lionel Lemonchois, the redoubtable winner of the Route du Rhum 2006.
The Discovery Route Cadiz - San Salvador is so-named in evocation of the first voyage made by Christopher Columbus, from August to October 1492, on behalf of the Spanish royal family. He was trying to reach Asia by taking the western route – as the existence of America was not yet known – without having to go around Africa or cross the territory of the Turks.
As a matter of fact, the itinerary followed by Gitana 13 should more or less follow that of the famous 15th-century navigator, namely passing well to the south of the orthodromic (direct) route. At the time, this course made it possible to avoid the Portuguese ships, the great rivals of the Spanish fleet. These days, this route, which involves passing by the Canaries with the main island on the starboard side, has the main advantage, as it did in days gone by, of drawing maximum advantage from the trade winds.
As for the crew of Gitana 13, their determination and enthusiasm is every bit as impressive as that of the sailors of yesteryear. But there's one sizeable difference: they are motivated not by the quest for gold and spices, but the taste for competition, the desire to excel as a team in the sport they love, and to experience a truly memorable adventure.
In addition, it is probably worth pointing out that, unlike its 15th-century predecessors, Gitana 13's crew contains no bombardiers, coopers or notary.
Finally, there is one further key point to bear in mind: the record being targeted by the crew was set in 2003 by the American Steve Fossett, on Playstation: 9 days, 13 h, 30 m, 18 s.
The crew of Gitana 13 on the Discovery Route – March 2007:
Lionel Lemonchois - Skipper
Loïck Peyron – Helsman - navigator
David Boileau – Trimmer
Cyril Dardashti – Trimmer / Troubleshooter
François Denis – Bowman
Jean-Baptiste Epron – Trimmer / Troubleshooter
Loïk Gallon – Chief mechanic
Jean-Baptiste Levaillant – Sails specialist
Léopold Lucet – Bowman / Medical officer
Antoine Mermod – Energy systems manager
Nicolas Raynaud – Video
Dominic Vittet - Navigator
Weather update from Meteo France's Sylvain Mondon, Sunday 18 March, at 09.00:
Inner part of Bay of Cadiz: low easterly wind of 3/6 knots. Heading further south, the breeze will freshen up rapidly with the wind from the Straits of Gibraltar to 23/26 knots departing left to the northeast to the south of 35N the wind will die down to 17/21 knots north to northeast, then to 15/20 knots on the approach to the Canaries.
Difficult passage by the Canaries to cross the windless zones with the wind from the archipelago.