Good start for Gitana Eighty in the Record SNSM
The start of the 4th edition of the Record SNSM saw the fleet power away late this Sunday afternoon off Saint Nazaire on France's Atlantic coast. As usual this event, in honour of the lifeboatmen and women, provided a fantastic spectacle, with a mix of monohulls and multihulls, professionals and amateur yachtsmen on a single race zone. In the end it was at 1735 UT, a few minutes after the amateurs participating in this 2008 edition, that the fleet of Imoca monohulls set off from the eastern jetty in the port of Saint Nazaire. Heading offshore with the second group of racers, the monohull in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group quickly shot towards the front of the fleet.

Change of course
This morning, during the official skippers' briefing, the organisers of the Record SNSM announced a modification to the course for the 60 foot monohulls. Indeed, initially, Gitana Eighty and her six rivals were supposed to round a mark off Saint Malo before returning to Saint Nazaire. However, given the light winds forecast in the Channel, the decision was taken to reduce the course to enable competitors to make it back to Saint Nazaire within the allotted time. As a result the course will now consist of two return trips between Saint Nazaire and Sainte Marine (port of Finistère in NW France at the entrance to the River Odet), which is a total distance of 360 miles. This new course will certainly be shorter, but also more tactical, as the skipper of Gitana Eighty explained shortly before casting off: “Throughout the race, we'll have to deal with and play with the currents, the tides and the numerous coastal effects. The first of the stretches to Sainte Marine is likely to involve close-hauled sailing with a W'ly breeze clocking progressively round to the NW, decreasing in strength in the process. It's a selective and open route so we'll constantly have to choose the right compromise between sailing along the coast and offshore. Tomorrow night, we may well have to put in a series of tacks in the bay of Quiberon, not far from the home port of Gitana Team (La Trinité-sur-Mer, SW Brittany).”

For the five crew of Gitana Eighty, the upcoming 360 miles will very likely resemble a sprint entailing very few moments of respite… According to the latest forecasts at the start, Loïck Peyron estimated that the monohull in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group could well be back at the entrance to the Loire estuary during the course of the day on Tuesday.

The crew of Gitana Eighty: Loïck Peyron (skipper), Cyril Dardashti, Antoine Mermod, Sébastien Thétiot, Didier Le Vourch

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