A brief summary. These foils (surface skates) are absolutely essential in order to attain higher levels of speed. Gitana X's designers spent vast amounts of time poring over the mobile appendages, allowing for large safety factors. But a prototype remains a prototype and once out on the water, it was discovered that the foils solicit the structure much more than the highest figures upon which the hypotheses were based. Gitana Team's engineers put their computers back to work once again and have come up with new curves for the loads generated by these convex foils.
After the whole boat had been checked over by engineers specialising in the resistance of materials, only the crossbeam butts (point where the beams are fixed onto the floats) have been identified as needing reinforcement.
Painstaking attention to detail
Getting at the inside of the butt (shaped like the arc of a circle), is a fiddly job requiring precision. Once accessed, then the damage sustained to the carbon on the forward starboard beam (right-hand side) can be repaired, and the 4 butts reinforced.
Multiplast's prototype team will add layers of carbon on the four inner and outer faces of the butts, using the wet lay-up technique, which involves using a brush and/or roller to impregnate the carbon cloth with resin. Next stage is to vacuum-bag the whole so that the cloth adheres correctly to the structure, before a final step, post-curing at 60° C so that the resin attains maximum resistance.
Reinforcement work is currently underway and Gitana X should be back on the water at the end of August.
A studious summer
The Gitana Team is close-knit and everyone has stayed close to the roost this summer making the most of this set-back to enhance the boat's preparation.
Some of the team members have managed to get some successful racing in over the summer: Nicolas Berthoud won the European 6M IC Championship in Helsinki (Finland). On the same course in the 8M IC Worlds a few weeks earlier, Nicolas Engel finished 6th and Philippe Durr 10th overall and 1st of the old boats. Marc Guessard won the Tour de France à la Voile, Olivier Staub finished 16th out of 50 in the Muscadet Nationals and Jean-Baptiste Epron is back on the maxi catamaran Orange for the Round Britain record attempt.
As for Benjamin de Rothschild, chairman of the LCF Rothschild Group , owner and himself a sailor, he has set sail on another voyage of sorts to welcome his fourth daughter into the world.
So Gitana X's skipper Lionel Lemonchois will be back in gear at the end of August with a highly-motivated team in tip-top condition ready to get down to new training sessions before the Grand Prix de Fécamp and his qualifying sail for the Route du Rhum.