Owner Benjamin de Rothschild : "We're going to try and do everything which we couldn't get done last year. Since she was first launched, Gitana has only covered 3000 miles (5500 km) and practically nothing at all racing. We've got everything to go for. Our options have to be validated."
Gitana's skipper, Lionel Lemonchois, agrees wholeheartedly with this statement: "It's almost as if we were starting out with a clean sheet of paper in terms of our knowledge of the boat. We have to get to know here. But as we're sailing her crewed, we'll be able to push her to the maximum, and also measure the distance which lies ahead in order to win."
Looking at it from that point of view, the course of the Challenge Mondial Assistance is going to be particularly interesting as it means having to sail in very different types of weather conditions.
A tactical course
Strategy will no doubt be a deciding factor in this race. Marc Guessard, Gitana's navigator : "Unlike our competitors, we don't yet have a reference point for the boat.. It's something of a handicap when it comes to marking and race tactics. But there are so many markers in this race - Cape Finisterre, Gibraltar, Albora Sea or South Balearics, South Sardinia or Cape Bon, the strait of Malta or Messina, coastal phenomena in the Adriatic – that the weather options will also be of the utmost importance. All the more so as in the Mediterranean, it is impossible to be accurate to within more than 48 hours. You have to seize the opportunities as and when they arise."
Weather assistance (routing) is prohibited on this race, preparation is so extremely important in the final outcome. Sylvain Mondon (Météo France), Gitana Team weather assistant: "Our main job involves both us and the crew, studying the climate of the 4 key points of the course (Channel, Atlantic, West Mediterranean and the Adriatic), listing local phenomena, knowing how to recognise them and adapt to them". Following in the wake of Phoenicians and Marco Polo, this should make for some eventful sailing.
Challenge Mondial Assistance
Cherbourg (F) Channel / Rimini (It) / Adriatic. 2734 miles (5063 km)
Start 11th May 2003
Finish between 19th and 23rd May 2003
Races in Rimini on 23rd & 24th May
Crew of the Gitana trimaran for the Challenge Mondial Assistance
Lionel Lemonchois - Skipper
Benjamin de Rothschild