Gitana 11 back racing
Aboard Gitana 11, yesterday is just a bad memory now. After ten long hours becalmed, watching helpless as his adversaries made good their escape, Yann Guichard has since found an established NE’ly wind of in excess of 20 knots. Fourth in the Ultimate Class, 500 miles from leader Franck Cammas and over 240 miles behind Francis Joyon in second place, the Gitana Team skipper knows it will be difficult to make up his deficit before Pointe-à-Pitre. However, until the finish line is crossed, there is still hope.

This morning, after a good rest, Yann Guichard described the long hours yesterday, powerless in the calm conditions: “It was a very long day yesterday… There was no or little wind and a slight sea which tossed the boat every which way. The sails were flogging so much that I really thought I would rip one or break battens. Added to that, in such conditions the automatic pilot totally lost the plot and often switched to error mode. As such I constantly had to be next to the helm and trimming. A situation like that is wearing on the nerves and there’s no chance of getting any kind of sleep” explained the skipper of Gitana 11. “I’ve found it quite difficult to accept the knock back I’ve had, especially given that I was right in the thick of the action yesterday morning. I’d really been on the attack the previous day on a reach prior to the passage through the front and I’d managed to make the shift over to the South as we were hoping. However, that’s life when you’re racing and you have to take it on board so you can quickly move onto other things and cast your mind forward to the future. I have 1,500 miles to go and I’m going to try to put in a good finish, whilst ensuring that I enjoy myself on the water.”

Looking at the average speeds being racked up by the top three Ultimate boats, it would be easy to think that life is a long, gentle river in the approach to the Caribbean arc. However, with 1,000 miles to the finish, the solo sailors are having to deal with conditions which aren’t always very comfortable for either the boat or the skipper. Aboard the maxi-trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, the furthest East of the top four, Yann Guichard gave us an insight into the weather conditions: “reaching 10 to 15 knots during last night, the wind has freshened this morning to pump out 24 knots of breeze.” At the same time though, the seas are rough to heavy, with 2 to 3 metre waves building in size. Tricky conditions again for Gitana 11 then, which we should recall has a waterline which is ten metres shorter than her adversaries and which, as a result, doesn’t slip so well through the waves. This naturally explains the slight differences in speed observed between Gitana 11 and her closest rivals during the latest rankings.

To the great delight of her skipper, Gitana 11’s sails have regained their fullness, which is essential for the maxi-trimaran to make good headway to the finish. However, the next stage in the race isn’t forecast to be one of the easiest to negotiate as the weather conditions remain confused and this trend is being confirmed day by day.

Ranking for the Ultimate Category on 6th November at 0700 hours GMT
1- Groupama 3 some 1,026.3 miles from the finish
2- Idec 260.1 miles from the leader
3- Sodebo 272.4 miles astern
4- Gitana 11 some 508.8 miles astern
5- La Boite à Pizza 1076.8 miles astern
6- Défi Cancale 1,269.6 miles astern
7- Saint-Malo 2015 some 1,307.3 miles astern
Retirement- Côte d'Or II
Retirement- Oman Air Majan

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