Gitana Team’s double in the Tour de Belle-Ile
By securing a win in the fifth edition of the Tour de Belle-Ile, the 70-feet trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, has snatched her first victory against her adversaries in the Multi One Design class. Sébastien Josse and his seven crew sailed a blinder and on the finish line they were one minute forty seconds ahead of Michel Desjoyeaux’s team. Spindrift Racing completed the podium by crossing the finish line one minute ten seconds after Foncia. A victory which augurs well for the upcoming season and rewards the work carried out by the Gitana Team since they received their boat last October.

Fresh out of the yard, the crew of the multihull Edmond de Rothschild Group chose to kick off the 2012 racing season with the Tour de Belle-Île; a race which each year gathers together small and large boats on the same course, thus enabling professionals and amateurs alike to rub shoulders and set off as one. Labelled in 2011 as the number one sailing event in France, due to the number of participants, the Tour de Belle-le boasted a packed line-up once again. And this morning, the total number of boats setting off for the Baie de Quiberon amounted to 502 in all. In the conditions on the racetrack, it wasn’t easy to carve a way through the crowds or to time the start right, as Sébastien Josse reveals: «It’s always impressive to take the start of a race with so many boats on the line and with some very different craft, each with their own speed potential. In fact we narrowly avoided colliding with a small multihull!»

Author of the best start to the right of the line, Foncia quickly powered to the front of the fleet. Leading as the boats exited the Baie de Quiberon and then drove hard to the Pointe des Poulains, Michel Desjoyeaux and his men couldn’t help but notice the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group catching up with them below Belle-île: «We got off to an average start but the crew was fairly at ease in terms of speed. After that we managed to exploit the transition zones behind Belle-le in our favour and gradually made up ground on Fonçia. To the South of the island, as far as Teignouse (which marks the entrance to the Baie de Quiberon), we were involved in some real match racing which called for a lot of manuvres. We were within two to three boat lengths of one another. At the entrance to the channel, we were able to shake them off. They didn’t accompany us in a change of tack as Spindrift, benefiting from our battle to cover each other, was coming up fast. At that point, we were able to come to our own compromise. The results were essentially decided 40 minutes from the finish, in the final few miles. I rediscovered the automatic reflexes from my Figaro days. On paper, the boats have the same performance potential and the slightest mistake costs very dearly. In fact the one who does least, wins», explained the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group.

Though the Tour de Belle-Île wasn’t one of the major objectives for the season, Sébastien Josse and his men couldn’t disguise their delight at finishing ahead of their two future rivals in the Multi One Championship: «The Tour de Belle-le was our first confrontation in race mode and we were keen to do well and thus validate the work we’ve done as a team throughout the winter. It was a good introduction, even though we still have a way to go to develop our power and be race fit for the New York start on 7 July 2012».

Last year, the maxi-trimaran Gitana 11, also skippered by Sébastien Josse, beat the event record by completing the 44-mile circuit in a time of 2 hours and 42 minutes. This time will remain in Gitana Team’s hands for another year at least as the boisterous conditions of the 2011 edition, gave way to a rather more timid wind this year, though it did build over the course of the day: «We took nearly five hours to complete the course (4 hours 48 minutes exactly), but that’s no surprise. We knew that the conditions wouldn’t enable us to improve on our previous time. However, that record time remains with the Gitana Team and that’s the main thing!» concluded Sébastien Josse.

Standing for the Tour de Belle-le (MOD 70 category)
  1. Edmond de Rothschild Group, finished at 14h58’10’’
  2. Foncia, finished at 14h59’50’’
  3. Spindrift Racing, finished at 15h01’00’’
The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group
  • Sébastien Josse (skipper, helmsman)
  • Antoine Koch (navigator)
  • Christophe Espagnon (tactician),
  • David Boileau (Pitman)
  • Olivier Douillard (trimmer)
  • Cyril Dardashti (grinder)
  • Thomas Rouxel (midbow)
  • Florent Chastel (bowman)
The dates for the 2012 programme
  • Tour de Belle-Ile: 28 April
  • Grand Prix de Douarnenez Guyader: From 3 to 6 May
  • ArMen Race: From 18 to 21 May
  • SNSM Trophy: From 1 to 3 June
  • Krys Ocean Race (Crewed transatlantic race): start on 7 July from New York estimated finish in Brest on 14 July
  • European Tour (Crewed configuration): start from Kiel (Germany) on 2 September

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