While maintaining responsibility for the Gitana Team, Loïck Peyron will thus skipper the brand-new Gitana Eighty from the end of July. The Gitana name is steeped in history, and it is in homage to his late father, Baron Edmond, who would have been 80 this year, that Baron Benjamin de Rothschild decided to christen this new member of the fleet Gitana Eighty.
A packed timetable
Its construction having begun last winter at the Southern Ocean Marine boatyard in New Zealand, Gitana Eighty has been designed by Farr Yacht Design and will make its first ocean forays from the end of July. Brought to Europe on 6 July, she has a few days to go before arriving in her new home port of Trinité sur Mer. The return test will then be conducted, after which the boat will be taken out of the water for the final checks. Once she is restored to the water and then masted around 25 July, Gitana Eighty will be ready to get some sea miles under her belt.
The first important date for Gitana Eighty and her skipper, Loïck Peyron is the Transat Jacques Vabre. Training and qualification for the big transatlantic event of 2007 will punctuate the months of August, September and October, before the start set for Le Havre on Saturday 3 November.
Gitana Eighty: an effective and elegant boat
The Gitana Team monohull is one of the very latest Farr designs and the sister ship of Jean-Pierre Dick's Paprec Virbac. Apart from a considerable number of innovations in terms of the vessel's interior fitout, Gitana Eighty also benefits from a variable-geometry hull bottom known as a trim tab. Situated at the monohull's rear tip at rudder level, it permits the adjustment of the boat's longitudinal trim and its adaptation to sea and wind conditions or to the speed of the boat. Also new are the sliders, two panels between the mast and the rear platform that offer aerodynamic gains and reduce the amount of water entering the cockpit, thereby improving the skipper's comfort and enabling him to adjust his veils more frequently and more precisely. This ergonomic optimisation offers a long overdue means of preserving his energy and physical condition.
Loïck Peyron thrilled to be rediscovering monohulls
In a few days, the Gitana Team general manager and skipper of Gitana Eighty, will be sailing on a boat that he and his team has thought through from top to bottom. And he cannot hide his enthusiasm, combined with a degree of excitement: “With a few days to go before the boat's arrival, I feel a bit like an expectant dad waiting to see his new baby. Just like a baby, it's taken nine months to be created and the long process of learning to walk will soon begin. I can't wait to see her with her sails, taking her first steps in Trinité sur Mer bay. It will be a special moment to share with all of the Gitana Team members who have worked on this project”.
Loïck, how do you intend to reconcile your role as Team Manager with that of skipper?
“The Gitana programme is defined in advance and the organisation put in place allows each skipper, assisted by his boat captain, to manage his vessel. Being extremely well supported in my role of Team Manager, I'm able to free a part of my mind and my time for this role of Gitana Eighty skipper”.
Could you tell us what the Vendée Globe means to a sailor with an honours list like yours?
“Over the past two decades, I've been lucky to be involved in some great sailing firsts, lining up at the start of almost all the new races such as the Baule-Dakar, Quebec-St Malo, les routes du café, the Clairefontaine Trophies, The RACE… and the Vendée Globe. As it happens, I'm not so much motivated by the chance of adding to by honours, as by the prospect of the complex management of a project like this. When you start off with a blank page and the aim of crossing a finish line two years ahead, there are sure to be some great moments in store, provided you have permanent commitment. The first edition of the Vendée Globe in 1989 was that of the pioneers, complete with its fair share of great sea stories. It was an immense thrill which I'll never forget. And I've got the feeling that the next edition will also be special, on account of the quality of the skippers and the boats due to take part.”
Technical file / Gitana 80.
Architect: Farr Yacht Design (USA)
Boatyard: Southern Ocean Marine (New Zealand)
Length: 18.28 m (60 foot)
Width: 5.80 m
Draft: 4.50 m
Weight: 8.7 t
Mast height: 29 m
Maximum sail area: 600 m2
Construction time: 26,500 hours