West to East Trans-Mediterranean record for Gitana 13
The maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild made the most of her time in the Mediterranean to add a new record to an already sizeable hoard, that of making a West to East passage in a time of 6 days 15 hours and 41 minutes.
On 26th May 2010 at 1655 UTC, the men aboard Gitana 13 crossed a virtual start line offshore of the Andalusian town of Tarifa, at the gateway to the Strait of Gibraltar, to the far South of Spain. The strait, referred to as the “Pillars of Hercules” in ancient times, marks the separation between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean. The 14 km wide passage lived up to its ‘violent’ reputation and propelled the giant of the seas downwind at pace, the breeze increasing progressively. The maxi-catamaran was to benefit from conditions on the water, which though tough, proved ideal for enabling the boat to make good headway over the first 48 hours at sea. However, after a productive start to the record attempt, the sailors from Gitana Team had to deal with an evanescent wind, forcing them into a seemingly incessant series of manœuvres. Following on from this zone of light winds was a spell of upwind conditions and a strong Mediterranean breeze. As such the crew of Gitana 13 were served up a wide range of conditions during this crossing, resulting in them going through the maxi’s entire sail wardrobe!
The nine members of the crew, led by Pascal Blouin, completed the 1,500 nautical miles of this West to East Trans-Mediterranean crossing on 2nd June at 0846 UT, by crossing the finish line offshore of Tel-Aviv. Gitana 13 thus improved on her own reference time set last September by nearly seven hours, reducing the new reference time to 6 days 15 hours and 41 minutes.
Contrary to previous records, where a standby period of varying degrees of length is incorporated to enable a crew to set off in the most favourable weather conditions possible as regards performance, Gitana 13 snapped up this particular opportunity to add another record to her hoard during a delivery trip. This infers that the new reference time is not optimal as the men aboard the maxi-catamaran didn’t choose the exact weather window for departure.