This year amazing blue and yellow trimaran has spent more time undergoing changes in the shed that out on the water. A disappointing fact for her owner and member of the sail team Benjamin de Rothschild, her skipper Lionel Lemonchois and the whole of the closely-knit team, which continues to work hard to perfect their steed. Uppermost in everyone's mind is the last confrontation of the season, the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre, which will start out of Le Havre (France), on 2nd November.
A finely-tuned team
Lionel Lemonchois : "Always on the lookout for ways to lighten Gitana, at the start of the month we did away with the antenna support and the bumpkins aft (carbon tubes used to support gennaker/big balloon jib trimming), whilst waiting to take off the cockpit ears to be able to bring the headsail tacks in for the Jacques Vabre. The submerged parts of the hull (underside part of the central hull and floats) have been entirely sanded down and repainted, the dagger board's trailing edge redone and its rotation system has been changed slightly. We're approaching the Grand Prix de Fécamp with a boat which is well optimised and perfectly well-prepared. As for the crew, even if there is still room for improvement, we are becoming increasingly familiar with Gitana's reactions. So we're operational, which gives me greater peace of mind and makes me more efficient at the helm. Just the way it should be to attack a Grand Prix in a peaceful frame of mind !".
As for Marc Guessard, the boat's navigator and Lionel's future co-skipper on the Transat Jacques Vabre emphasises : "We have sailed so little that every day counts in our task of acquiring data. This Grand Prix will be twice as important for the 11 crew. We're going to have to be tough, and fight hard to achieve a result, bearing in mind the aim of collecting all the information Lionel and I need to have for the two-handed Transatlantic race. Team Gitana's team spirit is going to be called upon for the three days."
So Gitana have got their heads down for the Grand Prix de Fécamp being raced from Firday 29th to Sunday 31st August.
A good show in perspective
On the weather front, it is looking highly likely that the 12 multihulls entered in the Grand Prix de Fécamp are going to be shaken up by north-north-easterly winds accompanying a small low. Rough conditions at the beginning of the event, which is favourable to Gitana who is more at ease in a bit of a blow than in light air. Once again, we are in for quite a spectacle put on by the Formula 1 of the seas.
Gitana's crew for the Grand Prix de Fécamp
Not much change in the crew composition for this last crewed event of the season. Eleven guys, including three Swiss who are perfectly au fait with handling high-tech 60-foot multihulls. Only Sébastien Josse (winner of the Grand Prix de Fécamp 2002 on Belgacom - currently preparing VMI, a 60-foot monohull, for the Vendée Globe) will be playing at the trapeze artist on Gitana's foredeck, replacing François Denis, who is unavailable.
Crew. Skipper : Lionel Lemonchois (F) - Performer : Benjamin de Rothschild - Tactician : Philippe Durr (CH) - Navigator : Marc Guessard (F) - Main Sail : Nicolas Berthoud (CH) - Runner : Jean Baptiste Epron (F) - Runner : Yann Marilley (F) - Grinder : Thierry Barot (F) - Mainsail Trimmer : Olivier Wroczynski (F) - Pit : Nicolas Engel (CH) - N°1 / Bowman : Sébastien Josse (F)
All about the Grand Prix :