Despite being on the cusp of spring, it was a chilly atmosphere aboard Edmond de Rothschild yesterday for the first sea trials of the year: “Since the launch, the shore crew, joined by a group of sailors, has been finalising preparation of the boat on the dock. On the boat’s exit from the yard, there were still a few elements to be adjusted before heading out to sea. These operations can’t be done in the shed, as they require the trimaran to have her mast stepped. Such tasks include bending on the sails, rig tensioning and setting up the electronics and hydraulics. On Tuesday, everything was in place to enable us to cast off for a few hours. It was a bit chilly for our first sea trial but the wind conditions were really perfect in terms of wind, with 15-20 knots of breeze set to ease. We got the chance to see the boat’s entire range and we’ll be able to step things up a gear from the end of next week. We crossed tacks with Oman Sail offshore of Groix, whilst Virbac Paprec, which has joined the fleet this season, is now tied up just a few metres away from us,” said a delighted Sébastien Josse, satisfied that the sporting season has begun.
2013 crew announcement
As previously announced, Sébastien Josse and Gitana Team will be dividing their time between the stable’s two craft. On the one hand is the 70’ one-design Edmond de Rothschild, alias Gitana XV, and on the other Gitana 11, the 77’ prototype maxi-trimaran. Ahead of the team lies a busy and ambitious programme, in which the skipper will rely on a group of sailors common to both boats: “The sailing programme for the next few weeks has been drawn up. We’re going to alternate between fully crewed training sessions, with a view to our participation in the Route des Princes next June, and some double-handed sea trials in readiness for the Transat Jacques Vabre. As far as the six or eight-strong crew is concerned, we have our references aboard after contesting the 2012 season in this configuration. However, sailing double-handed on our boats is a major new feature. These initial sail trials will enable us to get the measure of our steed with two of us aboard and they will determine what we have to work on until the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre. Within Gitana Team, we’re lucky to be able to have a lot of time on the water and the miles we manage to rack up will be an asset at the end of the year,” explains Sébastien Josse.
True to his beliefs and convinced that hard, repeated work forms the building blocks of a solid performance, the skipper has opted to have some serious players around him, who have already been alongside him for the past two years. These will include Thomas Rouxel, Florent Chastel, Olivier Douillard and Antoine Koch on the various races that make up the racing programme for the Gitana trimarans and the Route des Princes in particular. However, Sébastien Josse was also keen to introduce some fresh blood to his crew. As such, there will be some new recruits joining the ranks of Gitana Team for this 2013 season. Sébastien Col, a great inshore racing specialist, who has really earned his stripes on the match racing circuit (European champion, World No. 2, winner of numerous legs of the World Tour) and in the Louis Vuitton Cup, will take up position as the crew’s tactician. He’ll replace Christophe Espagnon in the inshore races.
For the offshore element, Breton Charles Caudrelier will be making his entrance. This sailor who, like Sébastien Josse, has honed his talent within the rigorous Figaro Bénéteau Class, is one of today’s references in French offshore racing: winner of the prestigious Solitaire du Figaro, the Transat Jacques Vabre in a monohull with Marc Guillemot and, more recently, the Volvo Ocean Race alongside Franck Cammas. In terms of multihull experience, Charles was Michel Desjoyeaux’ navigator last year during his victory in the European Tour of the MOD 70 circuit. His fine analysis and his offshore experience will very quickly make him one of the cornerstones of Sébastien Josse’s crew. It is only fitting then that Charles Caudrelier is one of the sailors who has been sounded out about becoming his co-skipper in the Transat Jacques Vabre, which sets off from Le Havre on 3 November 2013.
“I’m delighted to discover Gitana Team and to sail with Sébastien. In the past, we’ve often sailed against each other but seldom together. Both of us have a Figaro background, which creates bonds, and this season is a great opportunity. The Transat Jacques Vabre double-handed on these boats is a real challenge and I’m flattered that Sébastien has considered me. These trimarans are fabulous machines but they are also very demanding. We’re undoubtedly going to have a lot of work to do on the water as well as on shore because, in collaboration with Gitana Team’s shore crew, we’ll need to consider and adapt these boats, which weren’t originally built for sailing shorthanded. It’s also a very interesting challenge,” admitted Charles Caudrelier yesterday, after his first sea trial aboard Gitana XV.
He makes no secret of the fact that he aims to participate in the next Vendée Globe, in 2016, and he’s very much aware that the experience acquired aboard the trimarans will be a precious asset for his project: “I’m in search of funding to mount my own project in the next Vendée Globe. However, in the meantime, it’s out of the question to stay on land; my job is in on the sea. I think that once you’ve sailed a multihull at high speed, you’re capable of sailing any type of craft,” concluded Charles Caudrelier.
Two other sailors, whose names will be announced in the near future, will complete what is already a very talented group and take part in the six weeks of training that lie ahead. Indeed, though the first official races will kick off in early May with the Tour de Belle-Ile for Gitana 11 and the ArMen Race for Edmond de Rothschild, the men of Gitana Team are ready for action now.
PROVISIONAL RACE PROGRAMME FOR 2013
- Tour de Belle-Ile, 4 May
- Artemis Challenge, 8 August
- Rolex Fastnet Race, start on 11 August
Edmond de Rothschild (Gitana XV)
- ArMen Race, from 9 to 12 May
- Route des Princes, from 6 to 30 June (Valencia – Lisbon – Dublin – Plymouth – Morlaix)
- Transat Jacques Vabre, start on 3 November (Le Havre – Itajaï)