Gitana 11, a year from the Route du Rhum
The start of the Route du Rhum will be given on Sunday 31st October 2010 from the pirate city of Saint Malo. As such, in a little under a year, Gitana 11 – in her new extended form – will be setting off on the legendary transatlantic bound for Pointe-à-Pitre. For the Gitana Team, reigning champion of the event, clearly the goal is to score a double. However, prior to being in a position to pull off such a performance, Yann Guichard and his team have a long list of tasks to complete.

Since mid-October and the end of the Extreme 40 circuit where Yann Guichard and his crew aboard Gitana Extreme - LCF Rothschild Group concluded their first participation in the championship with a highly promising 2nd place, the skipper of the Gitana Team is devoting all his time to fine tuning the new craft fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. However, prior to traversing the Atlantic single-handed, the native of the French beauty spot of Ile aux Moines is getting to know the 77 foot maxi-trimaran in short-handed configuration: “since Gitana 11’s launch on 7th September 2009, I’ve been out for a number of sails with a crew. I’m going to have to get some miles under my belt in order to get to know the boat. The reasons for this are that even though we’re sailing on an existing platform, the modifications made to Gitana 11 have created a completely new trimaran. The way the boat behaves and reacts on certain points of sail is different and I can only discover all that by getting out on the water with her” explains Yann Guichard.

As a result, for the skipper of Gitana 11 and his men, the aim is to obtain the maximum amount of data on how the new look boat handles. Analysis of this data will then enable them to envisage any modifications, which need to be made to the maxi-trimaran prior to the long single-handed  campaign of racing that awaits her once her winter refit is complete: “these past few weeks of sailing short-handed have enabled us to evaluate the modifications required during the upcoming three month refit. Our primary focus is going to be to improve the appendages and the sail area.”

Aware of how lucky he is to benefit from a long period of fine tuning to tame this incredible machine, Yann Guichard nevertheless admits to a certain amount of frustration just days away from the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre, which for the first time since its creation isn’t open to multihulls measuring in excess of 50 foot: “I’ve crewed in the past four editions, the most notable of which was aboard Gitana 11 in 2005 and 2007. It’s a race that really appealed to me as the concept of sailing trimarans like Gitana 11 double-handed is particularly suited to getting the very best out of the boat. We’re able to use 100% of her potential, which very often is highly instructive with a view to sailing her solo”. 

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