Marc and Fred ready for battle
Although it has been really warm and sunny throughout the period during which the shore crew and skippers have been preparing the boats, the weather has taken a turn for the worst for the start later on today. The beautiful luminosity of the previous days has given way to steady rain, reducing visibility on the course to 500 metres. By the time the starting shot is fired at 3 p.m. French time this afternoon, a bit of blow should have kicked in, 20-25 knot southerly flow veering south-westerly, then west to north-west. Winds should weaken again tomorrow Tuesday. The first 24 hours will be decisive for both Gitana who will be seeking to position themselves favourably in relation to the ten other boats in the multihull fleet.

The Gitana Team is ready. Not only are they ready from a technical point of view thanks to the work undertaken by the shore team who have pulled out all the stops over the past few weeks, but also from a psychological point of view. Marc Guillemot (Gitana X) and Fred Le Peutrec (Gitana 11)  are chomping at the bit, eager to take the start of their intensive ten day solo voyage. Ready in spite of the fact that setting out on a single-handed transatlantic race at a charged pace is not a blessing. The first day is going to be difficult to handle  : moderate to strong wind, a rather chaotic sea awaiting the fleet off the south-west tip of England, shipping to keep an eye on , not to mention fishing vessels … ! In short, the first night of a yacht race is always tense and fundamental if a skipper is to keep up with the rest of the fleet and be in a good position strategically for the days ahead.

Marc and Fred describe how they feel just a few hours before the off. 

Marc Guillemot (Gitana X) :

« The boat is ready and so am I. Never the less, you're always a bit edgy before the start of a solo race. I'm more at ease a once the warning signal has gone off than in the last 48 hours ashore… I focus my thoughts on the race and I'm not at my nicest then. Things do however fall into place as soon as the race starts. Beforehand there are all sorts of ideas, feeling, sensations and souvenirs racing round in my mind. In the Route du Rhum 88, for example, before the start I'd told Olivier de Kersauson that I didn't want him to come and see me on his motor boat in the middle of the Atlantic. He came anyway and I was really pleased to see someone ! There's always an enormous gap between your state of mind before the start when you're ashore and once the race is underway. Gitana X has been well optimised by the Gitana Team shore crew over the winter months, and the Grand Prix de La Trinité sur Mer confirmed that when we sail her well, we can pull off something good. As The Transat is sailed solo, that changes quite a few parameters … Even if the boat is of course more demanding, particularly in transitional phases between strong to medium winds and light air. You have to keep at it constantly to get what you can out of her. In the last Transat, I took a little more than ten days. But judging by the weather we'll be having this year, we should get across in under ten days this time ! Conditions are such that nine to nine and a half days is possible. Gitana X is heavier than her competitors but not to nervy which is an advantage in unstable conditions and medium air, but to her disadvantage in unsteady weather. It's going to be tiring managing the boat in such conditions. »

Fred Le Peutrec (Gitana 11) :

« We're in for a lively Transat in terms of weather as there will be quite a few changes in pace at the start. Winds are not going to be very strong, so we'll all be pushing our boats as hard we can in the first few hours. There are a  couple of « openings » in the days ahead, but they will be closing rapidly afterwards. It's going to be important not to miss out on these tricky moments… On Tuesday, we'll have to be careful to position ourselves well in the ridge of high pressure which will be passing over. We have to get down to business right from the word go because afterwards, there's a stretch of pure speed to be run in a steady south-westerly flow before running into a rather sluggish low towards Newfoundland. So those who are first to free themselves from the light air will be at an advantage in the following two days, before negotiating the three days along the American coast. We'll have to concentrate on our first night at sea to manage our changes of tack, manage to sleep and eat to keep our strength up – whilst weeping a look-out for shipping all the while. Our first day will be spent simply getting into the swing of things ! The boat is as ready as ready can be. I feel really at home on her. The cockpit layout is well organised for solo manoeuvres with the helm in the middle surrounded by the winches. Everything is to hand. For all that I haven't got that much experience single-handed on big boats, everything I have learnt on sports catamarans comes in useful. I didn't jump straight from Olympic sailing (Tornado) to ocean-racing. It's very exciting – the sort of thing I dreamt about since the age of eleven. You have to be calm before the start and I know that the whole team has done a great job in preparing the boat. All that remains now is to get tuned into start mode for the conditions forecast. I'm pretty zen about this race and hope to make it to the other side in under ten days ! » 

The twelve multihulls entered in The Transat :

Marc Guillemot (Gitana X)
Fred Le Peutrec (Gitana 11)
Franck Cammas (Groupama)
Thomas Coville (Sodebo)
Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant)
Karine Fauconnier (Sergio Tacchini)
Alain Gautier (Foncia)
Philippe Monnet (Sopra Group)
Yves Parlier (Médiatis Région Aquitaine)
Stève Ravussin (Banque Covefi)
Lalou Roucayrol (Banque Populaire)
Giovanni Soldini (Tim Progette Italia)

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