One month old already!
Nearly a month ago to the day, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild hit the water for the first time in Vannes, south-west Brittany. After a build process spanning over twenty months, the latest of the Gitana fleet finally took to the sea to make for her home port of Lorient. Since that time, it's from their Keroman technical base that Sébastien Josse and Thomas Rouxel, accompanied by the members of Gitana Team, have been finding their feet on their new craft as they proceed with fine tuning the new 32-metre giant. Out of the question for the duo to have a summer break then in this crucial, high-speed training stage. Indeed, it's worth remembering that from 5 November 2017, Gitana 17 will set sail from Le Havre bound for Brazil, her inaugural sprint being the legendary Transat Jacques Vabre.
Installation and trimming
On 17 July 2017, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild was launched; a great day for Gitana Team on what was the culmination of years of work and many long months of construction of a complex platform combining expertise and high technology. This date marked the end of the build but the start of Gitana 17's life on the open wave. From installation of the appendages - the biggest ever foils built to date with their 8-metre span -, adjustment of the rig, trimming of the sail wardrobe, switching on of the entire electrical system and validation of the electronics... there was no shortage of items on the jobs list before they could put in their first tacks and finally see this 32-metre carbon giant in action. The team achieved this on 28 July 2017 in the company of our boat owners - Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild - who are always there alongside the team when it counts.
Analysis of the first sea trials
The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is what we might refer to as being broken in'. In fact, since leaving the yard, the sailors, technicians and naval architects, who thought through this 32-metre trimaran in the minutest detail, are finally discovering what she is made of. Her skipper, Sébastien Josse, shared his first impressions with us: “The initial sensations are very positive and our first sea trials are still leaving us wanting more!” gushes the sailor from Nice. “After our first five sea trials we can safely say that the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild platform is fully in line with our specifications. She's a stiff, safe boat - you really get the sense that she can roll with the punches - and she's powerful to boot. So far we've had some fairly medium conditions in which to trial her, but you immediately get the sense that she has quite a lot more under her bonnet', which is very positive. We're all keen to get out sailing in strong wind and heavy seas, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. The summery' conditions are enabling us to gradually get the measure of the Maxi, familiarise ourselves with the way she responds and how she behaves. For now, we've been out in crewed configuration, but in the next few days, we'll switch to double-handed' mode. A month on from the launch, we're at the midway point between getting a feel for this recently launched giant and our phase of preparation for the Jacques Vabre with Thomas (Rouxel). The timing is fantastic and the whole team has been working hard to ensure we're on track. It's still too early to make a proper analysis. We'll have to wait for the Jacques Vabre and the precious miles of an Atlantic crossing spent in race configuration for that, but one thing for sure is that she has a lot of potential, which we'll be able to discover as we go along."
Presented as a 2-in-1 boat by her architect Guillaume Verdier, Gitana 17 heralds the start of a new generation of large oceanic trimarans, giants that are half Archimedean sail boat, half flying craft. Pioneers breaking new ground, the racing stable fitted out by Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild is gladly stepping into the role of trailblazer' of offshore flight: “Flight? Clearly this isn't the key objective of the initial sea trials as there is a lot to do in terms of really getting a feel for the machine. However, we now have everything in place aboard the boat to really be able to make full use of our systems. The sea trials we've been able to carry out since the launch haven't been long enough to really have things down pat, but what we can already say today is that there is no doubt that the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild will fly! After that, knowing in which configuration that will be possible and efficient in terms of performance will take patience!” concluded the skipper of Gitana.
Objective Transat Jacques Vabre
This legendary race from Le Havre, contested in double-handed configuration, is this year celebrating its 13th edition and is heading back to Salvador de Bahia again some ten years on since the city last hosted the finish of the Transat Jacques Vabre. The race is open to four classes of boats with the Imoca60s and the Class40s making up the monohull category and the Multi50s and Ultimes in the multihull category.
The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild will be one of three boats participating in the Ultime category. Up against Sébastien Josse and Thomas Rouxel, teamed up for the first time, are two crews boasting a wealth of experience: Prince de Bretagne (Lemonchois - Stamm) and Sodebo Ultim' (Coville - Nélias); a small but select line-up. Though this crossing will be a real baptism of fire for his co-skipper, both in terms of the race format and the craft, he'll be able to rely on the experience of Sébastien Josse who has racked up several solid references along this course. Indeed, he won the 2013 edition with Charles Caudrelier aboard the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild, when the final destination was Itajaï, in southern Brazil.
Before linking up with the city of Le Havre on France's northern coast at the end of October, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild duo must further tame their steed and get in as many offshore training sessions as possible with a view to this first official competition. Sébastien and Thomas also have to complete a qualification course, which will involve a 2,000 nautical mile looped circuit over the coming days.
Start of the Transat Jacques Vabre (LE HAVRE - SALVADOR DE BAHIA), double-handed race.
4 NOVEMBER 2018
Route du Rhum (ST MALO - POINTE-À-PITRE), singlehanded race.
AUTUMN - WINTER 2019
Round the world race STARTING IN BREST, singlehanded race.