A summer break for some, intensive work for others… Gitana Eighty's summer refit began a couple of days ago. Relieved of its spar, the monohull equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild was placed onto a platform in the port of La Trinité-sur-Mer, prior to being put into one of the hangars at Gitana Team's base in Saint Philibert. Over the next six weeks the upcoming programme is set to involve: a complete optimisation review, with the focus on improving the comfort of the solo sailor and hence the performance of his steed.
Boat captain of Gitana Eighty, William Fabulet is the orchestrator behind this work. In permanent collaboration with Antoine Mermod, member of the Gitana Team design office, he coordinates the work, manages the schedule and ensures that all the different operations link together harmoniously: “Gitana Eighty has demonstrated her potential, and we're not going to question what has worked well at the start of the season. There is a sizeable jobs list but essentially it comes down to optimising the existing boat and making her reliable” explained William as an introduction.
After a busy start to the season in terms of sailing and prior to a round the world, it is perfectly understandable that one of the main objectives with this work is the complete overhaul of the vessel. “In order to guard against any wear or impact not visible to the naked eye, a meticulous inspection of the sensitive zones was performed the minute Gitana Eighty entered the hangar. Following on from that there will be a lot of work involved in the dismantling, since the boat's platform will be stripped right down. Once it has been dismantled, the winches, blocks and other elements of deck hardware will be carefully cleaned prior to being put back in their original place at the end of the job. This section in particular will be the responsibility of Sébastien Thétiot, as will the mechanical and hydraulic overhaul. For his part, Yann Le Govic, our in-house customised splicing expert, has already worked on the running rigging, as the majority of the warps will be replaced in line with a systematic precautionary process. Benoît Piquemal will concentrate on the reliability of the automatic pilot and communications systems.
Finally, a team of five people specialised in composite material will set to work on the structural elements, with the aim in particular of optimising the ergonomics. There will be an emphasis on the evacuation of water from the cockpit for example, in order to make it safe and more pleasant, particularly in the Deep South” concluded the boat captain.
A relaunch early September
Entrusting the summer work to the expert hands of his shore crew, Loïck Peyron can thus grant himself some well earned rest after covering over 8,500 miles since the start of the season 2008. For a month and half, the shore crew won't be sparing any effort to ensure the scheduled relaunch at the start of September. Two months from the big start in Les Sables d'Olonne, the countdown to the Vendée Globe can now begin.
Following the change of keel on his return from the United States, the skipper of Gitana Eighty had to perform a technical validation session of 1,500 miles to qualify this new appendage. Loïck Peyron has thus profited from the last few days of joint training with Jean-Pierre Dick – we recall that the 60 footer belonging to the Nice skipper is the sistership to Gitana Eighty – to complete this formality. Setting off from La Trinité-sur-Mer, the two men headed out towards the Fastnet – on the SE tip of Ireland – prior to dropping back down into the Bay of Biscay towards La Coruña. It is at the latitude of Bordeaux that Baron Benjamin de Rothschild's monohull got back on course for her home port. It was a satisfactory validation course, which will notably have enabled the sailor from La Baule to test his steed in some steady breeze.
Having now fulfilled all the formalities required by the organiser of the Vendée Globe, Gitana Eighty secures his qualification for the major event of the Imoca 2008 circuit; the first planetary adventure for a monohull in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group.