Winter work complete for Gitana Eighty
Crowned with its first victory in the Transat Ecover BtoB, Gitana Eighty returned to its base in Saint Philibert, Brittany, shortly before Christmas. After over two and a half months in the yard and an amazing job by the members of Gitana Team, the 60' Imoca monohull equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is the first of its ‘class' to be back on the ‘road to school' again this Tuesday 18th March. This return has been particularly important for Loïck Peyron, less than nine months from the start of the Vendée Globe, the landmark event of this 2008 season.

Launched in July 2007, Gitana Eighty has participated in two transatlantic races and covered over 10,000 miles since its first test sails in the bay of Quiberon last summer. General Manager of the Gitana Team since 2006 and also the skipper of Gitana Eighty, Loïck Peyron will soon double this mileage over the course of this year when he takes part most notably in The Transat on 11th May 2008. From La Baule on France's Atlantic coast, the sailor will perform the return crossing in solo configuration so as to prepare himself for the approach of the Vendée Globe: “This won't be the last launch prior to the Vendée Globe since Gitana Eighty will have a final little summer refit, but it feels like the big day is approaching… These two and a half months of work have once again demonstrated that we have some real talent in the Gitana Team; it is an efficient and autonomous team, notably capable of making some new rudder blades without the need for external service providers. It will be down to me now to make all their efforts worthwhile! Solo sailing always depends on the team work.”

William Fabulet, who now has the role of boat-captain of the 60' monohull after two seasons alongside Gitana 11, details the main work performed during this winter yard: “It's a real pleasure to work with everyone in this team. Everyone has worked hard so that Gitana Eighty can be relaunched within the deadline and the results speak for themselves! This winter period was principally geared towards making the existing boat more reliable in view of the Vendée Globe, whilst seeking to save a few kilos where possible.”

Objective… reliability and optimisation

- Fabrication of some new rudder blades and strengthening and readjustment of the appendages
- Modification of the steering system
- Strengthening of the 'trim tab' hinges
- Optimisation of the ballast system
- Installation of a new engine
- Change in technology of the onboard batteries
- Construction of a new mast, which Gitana Eighty will be equipped with in April, in order to have the benefit of a spare spar
- Fitting of Plexiglas domes on the roof, in order to gain extra visibility from the inside of Gitana Eighty.

Gitana Eighty has been prepared with the utmost care so it's up to me now to perfect my preparation. In order to achieve that I reckon that for the head and the muscles alike, you have to be on the water! This is why, all the way to the start of the round the world in November, I'll be spending a lot of time sailing, whether it be aboard the most recent of the Gitana fleet or other boats."

Following this through to the letter from Friday onwards Loïck Peyron will be taking part in the unmissable Spi Ouest France at the helm of an Open 7.50. Alongside him, defending the colours of Gitana Team in one of the landmark series of this Breton rendez-vous in La Trinité sur Mer, the sailor has gathered together a crew, which is essentially composed of members of his team: Antoine Mermod, Sébastien Thétiot, Jean-Baptiste Levaillant … These four days of races will give the skipper of Gitana Eighty the opportunity to confront some of the big names of ocean racing.

Programme for Gitana Eighty

Launch: 18th March
Grand Prix Petit Navire: from 25th to 29th April in Douarnenez
The Artemis Transat (single-handed transatlantic): Starting in Plymouth on 11th May, finishing in Boston.
Vendée Globe (single-handed round the world) : Start from Les Sables d'Olonne on 9th November, finishing in Les Sables d'Olonne

Gitana Eighty's shore crew

William Fabulet (boat-captain), Marie Dix-Neuf (composites), Sébastien Thétiot (hydraulics, deck fittings and engine), Yann Le Govic (rig, deck fittings), Benoît Piquemal (computers, electronics), Hubert Corfmat, Patrice Richardot, Daniel Le Digabel, Rolland Allanic (composites and painting), Antoine Mermod and Bernard Pointet (research and development)

Gitana 13 on standby in San Francisco

Thousands of kilometres from La Trinité-sur-Mer, Gitana 13 is on standby in San Francisco. Since completing La Route de l'Or (New York – San Francisco, via Cape Horn) on 28th February the maxi-catamaran has been moored at the pontoons of the Alameda naval yards in readiness for the new record attempt. However, this Tuesday 18th March marks the return of Lionel Lemonchois and the majority of his men in the United States.
After La Route de l'Or record, which now belongs to the Gitana Team thanks to a time of 43 days 3 minutes 18 seconds (a time approved by the WSSRC), the ten men of Gitana 13 now plan to attack the record for the North Pacific crossing (San Francisco – Yokohama). The current record time has been held since April 2006 by Olivier de Kersauson and his crew aboard Geronimo. The time to beat: 14 days 22 hours 40 minutes and 41 seconds.  The maxi-catamaran in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group may well bid farewell to San Francisco Bay around 26th March.

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