Both skippers, Lionel and Marc, together with the whole of the technical team are calm in the way express their confidence in the boat. The new deck layout following the removal of the ears and the new set of D4 sails designed by the Incidence master sail maker in La Rochelle will enable the Gitana Team to give free rein to their skill and determination over the 5,188 miles separating Le Havre (France) and Salvador de Bahia (Brazil).
Lionel : « We did not design special sails for Gitana, but the expertise of the Incidence sail loft with multihulls (ithe loft has made sails for 12 out of the 14 multis in the fleet) meant that we have been able to make a wardrobe which is perfectly suited to Gitana's structure. The new deck layout has meant that that we have been able to trim the sails better and have thus been able to make better use of the boat's potential. Never the less, the start is likely to be touch and go given the tough weather conditions forecast for the first three days of the race. We're going to have to take things steady and be really careful until we are out of the Channel and even beyond. But Gitana has proved many a time during our training sessions and previous races that she was highly seaworthy in rough weather."
Sylvain Mondon, Forecast Engineer with Météo France and Gitana's weather consultant : "Conditions for the multihull start at 15h00 on Sunday 2nd November are slightly less critical than expected will never the less be remaining strenuous for both men and material. But these are quite normal conditions for the time of year. A steady south-westerly blow, force 6 to 7 with strong rain and a rough sea. The start for the 14 multihulls entered in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2003 should be spectacular indeed, requiring masterly technique on the start line. Early in the evening, as the fleet passes the Cotentin headland, the wind should increase in strength to force 7 to 8. Repeated gusting are forecast throughout the night and the sea will be very hard going with a wave height of 2 metres increasing to 5 m on Monday morning. All the ingredients necessary to force the skippers' to take things steady at the start of this race. "
Never the less, the race organisers reserve the right to exercise their discretion to postpone the multihull start at the last minute should the weather worsen still further, putting the yachtsmen's safety in danger. Most important of all, a transatlantic race should remain a sporting challenge and not turn into a battlefield before the race has hardly begun.
Press contact on location : François Seguin 06 80 730 004 - Anne Massot : 06 16 19 12 20