First encounter with the competition
In exactly three weeks time, the fleet of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2015 must be in Le Havre, the historic start venue for the Coffee Route. And in one month to the day, the forty-two duos competing in the 12th edition of the famous transatlantic race will set sail for Itajai in Brazil. The countdown is very much on then for Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier, who are today participating in the Trophée Azimut. This annual meeting in Lorient, south-west Brittany, which consists of a long coastal course starting and finishing in the Morbihan region, is the duo's first confrontation with their future rivals. It's an important moment then, though clearly with a brand new boat launched just a few weeks ago, the sailors that make up Gitana Team can shamelessly admit that they're still getting the hang of the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild and have yet to make her fully reliable.
On launching the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild on 7 August 2015, the men of Gitana Team knew that the weeks running up to the Transat Jacques Vabre would be packed to the hilt. As such, Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier are making the most of every opportunity that comes their way to familiarise themselves with the boat and get in some serious practice so as they're as ready as they can be on 25 October. The Imocas are complicated boats, which call for a great deal of fine tuning. The Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild has been in the water for just a month and a half and we must have done about ten or so sea trials. Every moment we spend on the water teaches us a huge amount but there's still a long way to go before we can master the subtleties of this jewel of technology. However, let's remember that the goal of this project is that I can set sail on the Vendée Globe in a year's time, with a boat that is both reliable and fully optimised. The Trophée Azimut is an excellent test run for us. It was out of the question to miss out on these few miles in race configuration against the class' top players. However, we're approaching it without any pressure for a result given the timing, admitted the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild.
180 miles to size up their performance
Since 2011, the Azimut company has been an annual event for the big names in yachting and comprises a start and finish in Lorient. In the run-up to the autumn's major offshore event, the sailors are making the most of this race to size up their competition one last time offshore. Like last year, the Imoca class boasts a sizeable line-up with some twelve 60 footers setting sail offshore of Groix at 15:00 GMT.
The course offered up by Jacques Caraës, the event's Race Director, is a long 180-mile looped circuit, which will initially lead the fleet towards a waypoint to the south-west of Lorient, around 50 miles offshore of Saint Nazaire. Once around this virtual point, the monohulls will set a course for the SN1 landing mark at the entrance to the Loire estuary. With the SN1 in their wake, they'll link onto the return leg and the waters off Lorient. Prior to that though, the duos will have to climb further north and leave the yellow Les Glénans mark to starboard before returning to their starting point. In terms of the weather, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild shed some light on the latest forecasts shortly before leaving the dock: We'll have to head off downwind in a very light WNW'ly wind, bordering on complete calm. This wind is set to veer round before settling in the north-east as it builds. At around midnight, we're likely to have around fifteen knots or so and this breeze is due to remain established until we start heading back towards Lorient. This weather situation will dish up some varied points of sail with some downwind, some upwind as well as some reaching (wind on the beam).
Last week, the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild returned to the comfort of Gitana Team's technical base for a few days. On the schedule was an express refit aimed at adding a few finishing touches to the interior layout, as well as making some improvements to the ergonomics of the cockpit. Finally, the team made the most of this period to repair the boom, which was damaged during the duo's qualifier for the Transat Jacques Vabre.
Waterline length: 18.28m
Air draught: 29m
Water draught: 4.50m
Displacement (weight): 7.6 tonnes
Keel bulb weight: 3 tonnes
Maximum upwind and downwind sail area: 290m2 / 490m2
Number of sails permitted aboard: 8 (1 mainsail, 7 headsails)
M2 of living space: 10m2
Number and type of daggerboards: 2 foils
Source of on-board energy production: generators coupled to the diesel engine + hydrogenerators
Naval architects: Guillaume Verdier / VPLP Yacht Design
Yard: Multiplast (Vannes)
Rudders: C3 Technologies
Daggerboards: Heol Composites
Keel: AMPM (La Mothe-Achard)
Mast: Lorima (Lorient)
Start of construction: September 2014
Launch: 7 August 2015