On every front
The winter break is not a very fitting concept within Gitana Team. Just a few days after the prize-giving for the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe, which definitively rounded off the adventure of this 10th edition and the very fine 3rd place secured by the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild in the Ultime Class, Sébastien Josse was back in Paris at the Porte de Versailles in the aisles of the Nautic Boat Show. Indeed this Tuesday afternoon, the sailor attended the first press conference for the Vendée Globe 2016-2017, a race that will be the culmination and main objective of Gitana Team in its Imoca programme. It was an opportunity for the skipper to share with us his mind set, as well as give us a low-down on the state of play in the construction of the future Gitana craft.
From the Rhum to the Vendée Globe, Sébastien Josse the chameleon
Third in the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe in the star class of Ultimes, within a particularly top-class line-up, Sébastien Josse really showed off his talent on three hulls after an express apprenticeship of just three years. Indeed, in 2011, when the native of Nice joined Baron Benjamin de Rothschild's racing stable, he was considered to be one of the great French monohull specialists but he was mere a rookie in the multihull domain at that time. By dint of hard work and the unfailing support of the members of Gitana Team, the sailor was able to consistently up his game to reach the highest step of the Transat Jacques Vabre podium and, more recently, third place in the 10th edition of the star solo transatlantic race. This successful transformation resulted in yet another string to what was already a very fine bow! Sébastien Josse now has his thoughts on the future programme that awaits the team with the launch of a latest generation Imoca this coming summer, but he won't lose sight of the multihull, which remains very much part of the Gitana Team's DNA.
Once you've felt the influence of the multihull, it's difficult to do without it afterwards! These boats are really fabulous in terms of sensations and the technological advances, particularly with regards the appendages, are something I'm passionate about. My first solo transatlantic race in a multihull was a very rich experience and the success of the experiment with the T-foil rudders on the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild made me even more certain that the future will revolve around flying boats. However, we're only at the beginning, which is all the more motivating. In fact, Gitana XV is going back for a refit in Lorient so as to continue with our investigations. We've never made any secret of the fact that the rudders were only the first step towards a more ambitious goal. Naturally I'll be present during the refit, but since my return from Pointe-à-Pitre, my mind has also been very focused on the future monohull, Edmond de Rothschild. Construction is progressing in Vannes, SW Brittany, and the work is on schedule. However, the outline of the project is fixed, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us and we have a number of decisions to make with the Gitana Team's design office. Everyday I realise how lucky I am to have the opportunity to build such a boat and line up for the start of the Vendée Globe with a latest generation Imoca! explained the skipper of the Edmond de Rothschild boats.
In the thick of construction of the Monohull Edmond de Rothschild
Last January, the Gitana Team and its skipper Sébastien Josse unveiled the ambitious 5yr programme of the racing stable fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. The announcement seals the team's return to the Imoca class with a view to participating in the next Vendée Globe, the start of which will take place on 6 November 2016. The decision to launch a new boat designed by naval architects Verdier / VPLP was confirmed a few weeks later with the start of the build being set for the end of the summer 2014.
In Vannes since last September, the Multiplast teams (Carboman Group) have been hard at work. As such, three months into a nine-month build schedule, the future monohull Edmond de Rothschild is taking shape and gradually revealing what she's made of.
Pierre Tissier, technical director of the Gitana Team in charge of monitoring the build, reviews the situation with six months to go until the launch of this new craft: The build itself began at Multiplast in late August early September. This first phase has been devoted to making the hull and the deck, which have been created simultaneously in one of the yard's main units. The moulds for these two major parts are complete, the first skin has been laid and cooked, and right now the team dedicated to our project is laying the core (honeycomb). It's the intermediary stage between the two skins, which make up the deck and the hull. The bulkheads, which form part of the boat's skeleton, are also in build. At the same time as all that, Gitana Team's design office (Antoine Koch, Armand de Jacquelot and Sébastien Sainson) are working with the naval architects (note Verdier / VPLP design) and in consultation with Sébastien (Josse) refining the design of the appendages, deck layout and internal fit-out. For anything related to the ergonomics and fit-out of the future 60', the five-arrow team has made a full-size mock-up of the cockpit in its base in Lorient, which is an invaluable tool for fashioning a boat to fit the skipper perfectly.
On the programme for the coming months: the hull and deck will be removed from the mould, with assembly of the boat beginning in late February. As such, there are a number of major steps to be taken by the Gitana Team and its skipper before they can get the measure of their new platform.