Lionel Lemonchois : "We finished 10 seconds behind Géant (Michel Desjoyeaux) in the last round and they were out to win this Grand Prix. We put up a good fight. We're getting better. But there's still a lot more work to be done before we're up there with the best of them." Gitana's skipper is lucid, knowing only too well that it will take time to get Gitana up to her best and find out what she is really capable of. But at least, he can be satisfied with two important things – firstly, there was no gear failure during what was a rather windy Grand Prix (apart form a mainsail batten due to an error during a manoeuvre). Proof that the boat was well prepared and that lots of thought had gone into fittings and scantlings options. Finally, the French-Swiss crew manoeuvred almost perfectly, in spit of having sailed together so little. "That's sport for you. You haven't got a minute to yourself. It's great. We had a great time..." declared Jean-Paul Levrel, grinder at the end of the second round on Saturday when the wind exceeded 35 knots (Force 8) in a squall and Gitana flew downwind through the waves.
Unanimous verdict on the dockside where the crew admitted that the entry level was extremely high this year with 11 boats taking part. The slightest error was paid for dearly. Gitana paid the price of hers in the 6th round where she was in 6th position at the first windward mark in the middle of the leading pack, and could not unfurl her gennaker (big balloon jib), loosing 5 places by the following race mark.
No sooner had the Grand Prix finished than Gitana got underway for her home port of La Trinité sur Mer (40 km to the south) where a new race against the clock is awaiting them. The trimaran has to be hauled out so the dagger board can be changed, the chocking of the foils (skates) looked at and the new mast be checked over before setting out no later than Thursday to deliver Gitana up to Cherbourg in the Channel (300 miles / 555 km north), for the start of the Challenge Mondial Assistance. All of the competitors have to have arrived in the marina by Friday 2nd May at 12h00 French time.
Lastly, a big debriefing after this first event is also scheduled for Monday morning to anticipate decisions which might need to be taken as to any improvements to be made to the boat and the way she is to be sailed.
Grand Prix de Lorient. Scoreboard :
1/ Groupama (Cammas) 20 pts, 2/ Géant (Desjoyeaux) 26 pts, 3/ Belgacom (Nélias)33 pts, 4/ Banque Populaire (Roucayrol) 36 pts, 5/ Sodébo (Coville) 41 pts, 6/ La Trinitaine (Guillemot) 42, 7/ Foncia (Gautier) 50 pts, 8/ Bayer Cropsciences (Maurel) 54 pts, 9/ Banque Covefi (Ravussin) 75 pts, 10/ Sopra Group (L Bourgnon) 77 pts, 11/ Gitana (Lemonchois) 79 pts.