The final countdown
With the arrival this Friday morning of Groupama 2, the six trimarans taking part in the first event of the Cafe Ambassador Multi Cup, the London-Alpes Maritimes race, are in position alongside the quays of Canary Wharf in London. The activity onboard Gitana 11 and Gitana 12 is now focused on the very last preparations and the sailors are poring over the weather information for the opening days of the race.

Franck Cammas and his crew arrived in London at 11:00, having been delayed by defective gluing on the central hull that the technical team preferred to resolve at its Lorient base. There are therefore six trimarans at the heart of the English capital, presenting an unusual spectacle amongst the buildings… On board, the shore crew are affixing the stickers and the sailing crew are busy analysing the weather information. A studious atmosphere then, but also a chance to introduce these ultra-sophisticated machines to the British: in a sense, they've gone back to their roots, as the first sailors on the modern multihulls were in fact from these shores!

Frédéric Guilmin, navigator on Gitana 11:

“We're at the stage of fine-tuning our preparations… We're refining the weather details for the start on Monday afternoon because there are quite a few key points, particularly in the early stages of the race with the exit from the Thames. There shouldn't be any big gaps when we come to the mouth of the river but any advantage, however small, is worth having, because space is limited up until the eastern point of England (North Foreland), with narrow channels, sandbanks and many shipping lanes… not to mention the tidal currents!
In terms of navigation in its strictest sense, the first twenty miles are the trickiest because in this phase, there is more scope to start applying tactics and establish a strategy. After that, you have to manage the shipping lanes in the Channel, which demands a great deal of attention and a watch especially at dusk and during the night.”

The weather for the start…

“The current forecasts suggest that the breeze will be quite calm for the first twelve hours of the race, definitely with a headwind from the south-western sector. This still depends on the exact position of a low-pressure zone which will be positioned very near to London at the start…,” adds Frédéric Guilmin

Nicolas Raynaud, trimmer on Gitana 12:

It might seem a bit trivial, but we had to dismantle the main sail to affix the stickers, which requires quite a few hands, I can tell you! With four crew, it took a good hour because the slightest bit of work on these boats has to be carefully organised. But now it's fair to say that the trimaran is good and ready: we're just waiting for one little rod for the rudder, so with three days to go before the start, everything's hunky-dory.
Let's not forget that Gitana 12 was renovated from top to bottom this winter and thanks to the splendid work of the Gitana technical team, we have been able to get back sailing rapidly, even if our ocean forays have been a bit limited. The delivery was useful, as it allowed us to see how we were going to organise ourselves: in two days, we had to get used to the boat, work out how we were going to sleep, eat and manoeuvre, etc.. These small details of everyday life onboard are important for an ocean race like the London-Alpes Maritimes. It allowed us to discover that the deck layout, which was totally redesigned this winter, functions perfectly well and as the crew is the same as in last year's race, with the exception of Alexandre Marmorat, we got our bearings rapidly. And Gitana 12 is actually a lot more exciting! We've been pleasantly surprised by its reactivity, its ability to accelerate and its behaviour in light air, all of which make it a complete trimaran which is not out of place among the best boats in the fleet…”

Gitana 11 Crew

Frédéric Le Peutrec (skipper-helmsman), Baron Benjamin de Rothschild (trimmer), Frédéric Guilmin (navigator), Daniel Souben (helmsman-trimmer), Ronan Le Goff (bowman), Antoine Mermod (pitman-trimmer)

Gitana 12 Crew

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (skipper-helmsman), Erwan Le Roux (helmsman-trimmer), Mayeul Riffet (navigator), Alexandre Marmorat (trimmer), Nicolas Raynaud (trimmer), Léopold Lucet (bowman)

Biographies of all the crew are available on the website

Gitana Team Programme – Multi Cup and Route du Rhum

8 May: start of the London-Alpes Maritimes race
20-21 May: Trophée du Conseil Général Alpes Maritimes (Nice)
2-4 June: Grand Prix d'Italie (Trapani-Sicily)
23-25 June: Grand Prix de Marseille Métropole
14-16 July: Grand Prix du Portugal (Portimao-Algarve)
8-10 September: Grand Prix du Port de Fécamp
29 October: start of the Route du Rhum Banque Postale (Saint-Malo/Pointe-à-Pitre)

In the world of sailing, the name Gitana is inseparable from the French-Swiss branch of the Rothschild family. It conjures up century old images of a particular lifestyle where passion, team spirit and the quest for excellence come together. Under the aegis of the Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, the Gitana history turned to multihulls in 2000 when the Gitana IX entered the Transat Québec/Saint-Malo. For the 2006 Multi Cup, the Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has entered two trimarans - Gitana 11 and Gitana 12 – for the third year in a row. The recent acquisition of the latter is aimed at balancing the strengths present in the team whilst at the same time confirming a crew of young talents discovered on board Gitana X in 2005. Tradition, innovation and transmission…

Photo Image Bank: Yvan Zedda  Video Image Bank: Nefertiti Productions

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