The motivation is there. In spite of this setback which has of course been a little bit frustrating for the whole team, they've got just one thing on their mind – sailing, sailing and more sailing. Lionel Lemonchois, the boat's skipper: "Yes, we've been out of action for quite some time, but it was essential to reinforce the crossbeams".
Objective number one of the first few outings is therefore going to be to validate the work done on the crossbeams (cf. attached drawing). "That'll be made easier by a measurement system (stress gauges) which we inserted into the structure during the modifications" , explains Olivier Besse, Project Manager with Gitana X.
Then all of the electronics have to be calibrated in order to have reliable speed markers under all points of sail, all the more so as certain sails have been modified and others have been added to the wardrobe. The top of the mainsail has been altered, for example, to have its roach reduced, and a staysail, a small headsail, has been added for single-handed sailing.
Never the less, these fine-tuning sessions will have to be done rather quickly as Lionel has to sail his qualifying passage for La Route du Rhum, in other words, 1000 miles (1852 km) sailed solo. This means roughly 3 days at sea, which Lionel would be only too happy to extend to 4 or 5 days to be in perfect harmony with his boat. "If the weather is good, then I might leave on Saturday or Sunday of next week. And, depending on which way the wind is blowing, I will either sail over towards Ireland or the west of Spain. In any event, I'll have to go where there is both wind and sea if I'm really going to see what she is made of. But I think everything will go well. Anyway, I'm a sailor and I've been on dry land for too long now. It's high time we got back out where the action is - on the water".
Everyone involved pulled out all the stops for the trimaran and Lionel, so that they can be on the starting line of La Route du Rhum in the best possible conditions. "There has been a hell of a lot of work to do and there's still a lot left to do. But we've got a great team. It's amazing. It should all work out fine" , confirmed Bambino (François Denis), a permanent member of the trimaran's crew. Yann Marilley, in charge of logistics added: "We're really pleased to be back on the water. At last we'll be able to see what she's made of. We'll be sailing every day, as much as we can". The deadline for the boat arriving in Saint-Malo is 30th October for the pre-race inspections. Once they have rallied Saint-Malo, she will not be going anywhere until 10th November 2002.
Tomorrow Sunday 8th September, Gitana X will be heading back to her base in La Trinité-sur-Mer and will start her training programme. As announced, La Route du Rhum comes first and so unfortunately that means missing the Grand Prix de Fécamp from 12th to 15th September. The Gitana Team would have liked to have taken part to see how the boat compared to her opponents.