Start of assembly of the new Gitana 11
Since January 2009 Gitana Team’s shore crew has been getting down to the business of transforming Gitana 11. The victorious trimaran in the Route du Rhum 2006 under the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group, has currently been undergoing heavy structural modifications, with the 60 foot multihull soon to become a 75 footer. The ambitious refit, encouraged by the new notice of race for the transatlantic dash between St Malo and Pointe-à-Pitre – we recall that the 9th edition will be open to multihulls from the G Class –, could be compared to a giant jigsaw puzzle. Indeed the key elements for the new trimarans are arriving from all around the globe and this week was marked by the receipt of the first float from New Zealand.
Wide load bound for La Trinité-sur-Mer, Brittany

Gitana 11’s starboard float, the first to come out of the New Zealand yards, left the Antipodes at the start of May on a delivery trip of around thirty days aboard a cargo ship. Disembarked in Le Havre last Saturday, 6th June, this piece measuring nearly 22 metres long had to wait around in the Norman port for a few days, under strict order of the customs, prior to being transported by truck to La Trinité-sur-Mer. The wide load arrived in front of Gitana Team’s technical base late afternoon on Wednesday. For the team, managed by William Fabulet, the receipt of the first float marks the start of the assembly. It’s an important stage as Yann Guichard, skipper of Gitana 11 explains to us: “It’s been six months that the members of the team devoted to the refit have been preparing the platform. The important work carried out on the cockpit and the helming stations is drawing to a close and, at the same time, the beams have been reinforced to anticipate the increase in the stresses as a result of Gitana 11’s new dimensions. However, the assembly is reaching a crucial phase as we’re finally going to see in the flesh what we’ve only been seeing on paper for several months. The boat will then be reborn and over the next few weeks its new lines will take shape. As regards the float, the team will dedicate its time to positioning it correctly, before tackling the grafting proper. This represents nearly three weeks’ work.”

Next it will be the turn of the port float, whose arrival in Brittany is scheduled at the end of June, to access the hangar in the technical base in Saint-Philibert. It should be noted that the latter part will take exactly the same route as its ‘elder’.

Why have the floats built at the other end of the world? Such is the question we asked the team manager of Baron Benjamin de Rothschild’s racing stable: “Following studies, we chose to have Gitana 11’s floats built in New Zealand. Initially this decision was guided by the obvious economic reasons. However, we also wanted to pursue the work initiated with the Southern Ocean Marine yard during the genesis of Gitana Eighty. Finally, this construction thousands of kilometres away allows us to carry quietly on with work away from prying eyes, which is never unpleasant!” explains Cyril Dardashti, before giving us further details about this collaboration: “Rolland Allanic, one of composite specialists with Gitana Team, has thus left France for the Antipodes for nearly a six month spell. His daily presence in the yards has been essential both for supervising the construction and for ensuring the link and project monitoring with the shore crew that remained in France. The result speaks for itself and we’re delighted with it.”

The receipt of this first key part gave Yann Guichard the opportunity to look in detail at the specific elements of these new floats: “From the outset our main theme has been to make Gitana 11 more versatile. We’re seeking to conserve her potential in the light airs whilst improving her performance in the breeze. This balance stems from the lengthening of the floats, which will be 4 metres longer. The hull forms are inspired by the latest generation of floats, which have arisen from the technical evolutions made in the domain over the past seven years. It should be recalled that Gitana 11’s floats date right back to 2001. As ever, it was a question of the weight/power compromise during the design and then the construction.”

The work on the lengthening Gitana 11

- Construction and changing over of the existing floats
- Lengthening of the central pod
- Adjustment of the deck layout and optimisation of the platform in view of single-handed sailing

Gitana 11 in figures prior to work

LOA: 18.28m
Beam: 18.10m
Air draft: 30.48 m
Water draft: 5.00 m
Weight: 6.1 tonnes
Mainsail: 198m²
Genoa: 120m²
Gennaker: 265m²
First launch: August 2001 under the name of Belgacom

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