During the 1960s, it was Baron Edmond de Rothschild who definitively converted the family's predilection for boats into enthusiasm for sailing. His vessel of choice was the monohulls, a preference that helped instigate a magnificent chapter of ocean-going competition. From Gitana III to Gitana VIII, by way of the favourite Gitana VI or Gitana Sixty, his boats were often among the honours in highly prestigious races, like La Giraglia in the Mediterranean or the Fastnet in the North Atlantic, the record for which has been held by Gitana IV for 19 years. While Baron Edmond de Rothschild had a real passion for these giant boats where the crew really comes into its own (it was he who created the Maxi-Class in 1984), his tastes also extended to the 6mJI (6-metre international class) and 8mJI classes, veritable jewels of elegance and rapidity, upon which Baron Benjamin de Rothschild would offer his father the World Cup in 1986.
Next it was the era of the multihulls, or environmentally-friendly Formulas 1s of the sea, as Baron Benjamin de Rothschild liked to describe them. In order to get the most out of these boats, he introduced professional standards among the crews by creating the Gitana Team in 2000. Since placing the team's day-to-day management in the capable hands of Loïck Peyron in 2006, he has proceeded to enter several Gitanas in the very biggest events. And in 2006, his plans came to fruition in fine style with the stunning victory recorded by Lionel Lemonchois, who won the legendary Route du Rhum by bettering Laurent Bourgnon's previous record for the race by a phenomenal four days. In the history of the Gitanas, the magical time of 7 days 17 hours 19 min and 6 sec will long retain highly symbolic significance.
But sporting excellence – as seen by the Rothschilds – must not be allowed to adversely affect the family's famous Art de Vivre: thus, during those long nights on watch, any sailor aboard a Gitana vessel gets to sample such delicacies as Sautéed Bison, Braised bass with fennel and fresh thyme, Sautéed Chicken with Morel Mushrooms, and Gitana Cake. These dishes are cooked and prepared with tender loving care in the kitchens of the Domaine du Mont d'Arbois at Megève, one of the family properties.
So the story of the Gitanas is a love story: a tale of an infatuation for nautical sports in which each generation of the family has successively penned its own gripping chapter, while all respecting the same fundamentals: a taste for performance, a ceaseless search for superior technique, the fostering of the talents of each individual as well as of the team, and, bien sûr, the joy of victory.
The quality of the photographs and the wealth of archive documents that accompany the inimitable story of the Gitanas all combine to form an exceptional work. It is aimed at the increasingly growing public which thrills to the spectacle of these trimarans, half-boat, half-bird, flying across the surface of the oceans at giddying speeds. But above all, it has been created for all those for whom the handing down of a great passion is what life's all about.
Gitana and the Rothschilds: a century of passion (Editions du Chêne)
Format: 320 x 250 mm
Number of pages: 160.
Sale price : 34 €.
Available in the shops from 13 June 2007