Two months already!
On 23 May, the latest addition to the Gitana fleet got back down to business. As such, the past two months have been very hectic for the Gitana Team and its two new skippers, Charles Caudrelier and Franck Cammas. Incorporating the end of the refit, the relaunch, the discovery of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and offshore flight, the validation and launch of manufacture for the future developments the analysis from these first few weeks is proving very positive. In a little less than a fortnight, and despite it being contested in crewed format, the Rolex Fastnet Race will be the perfect clash in this training phase, before our duo turns their full attention to the main event on the sports calendar, the Brest Atlantiques at the tail end of this season.
“A safe and seaworthy boat which we're discovering every day”
Recruited back in April, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier have quickly got their bearings within the five-arrow team. A month after their arrival, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild was relaunched following over 6 months in refit to repair the broken bow on the starboard float, the damage to which was severe enough to force Gitana to retire from the Route du Rhum. Since that time, the two sailors, supported by the members of their shore team, have been out multiple times on the 32-metre giant. The steady pace of work and the time spent on the water all counts because this November they'll be setting sail on the long looped Atlantic circuit, which stretches for 14,000 miles between Brest, Rio de Janeira and Cape Town. The skippers of Edmond de Rothschild share their first impressions about the boat and their integration in the racing stable fitted out by Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild.
Intense and thrilling!
“We've been working fairly intensely in a bid to discover the boat, embrace the first modifications, adjust the finer details, transform the sails and familiarise ourselves with the appendages. It's satisfying because by getting out on the water we've been able to really look at the details, whether it be offshore or during our day sails,” explains Franck Cammas. The sense of intensity is shared by Charles Caudrelier: “the first two months have been studious. We've learned a great deal and the pace has been steady, but every day has been fun too. On a technical level, the boat is thrilling and we have a great entourage of highly competent people. There's a real competitive spirit within the team. Franck has a very technical profile too, which adds a further boost. The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is an exceptional machine and really is a cut above everything else around! The sensations are incredible and we're very lucky to be able to drive a boat like this. We're gradually learning how to control her, but we're still a long way off getting the absolute best out of her. Every day we're learning a little bit more and making progress with her.”
“Our integration within the team has been pretty natural and very positive. Having already sailed here between 2013 and 2015, I know the guys well and Franck knows the vast majority of them too. That's enabled us to very quickly get to the nub of the matter and be efficient. In the space of a couple of months, I think we've already done some great work together. Certain teething issues with the boat have been resolved and we've developed the boat's sail performance a bit and sorted out some of the issues with the steering system,” explains Charles Caudrelier, whilst his co-skipper discusses the initial sensations related to offshore flight: “The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is a safe boat, whose volume instils confidence as you're high up on the water and the appendages have a big surface area so they absorb the impact. All that translates as an ability to attain true flight mode, something that I hadn't experienced before on this size of multihull, even with Banque Populaire last year.”
Increase in power
It will be somewhat alien for Franck Cammas to consider the Rolex Fastnet Race as a mere training race of course. Known for his tenacity, the skipper from Aix-en-Provence never hits the start line of a race without wanting to perform well, a mindset that's largely defended by Charles Caudrelier. For all that though, the two men remain focused on the main event of 2019 this November and have geared their season accordingly. “From the launch to the Fastnet, we knew it would be a technical discovery phase and that's why it's the perfect opportunity to do the race in crewed formation. After the Fastnet, we'll switch mode. The idea is to perfect our performance aboard the Maxi and our double-handed configuration in the Brest Atlantiques. We have a 2,000-mile qualification to validate, which will be a very effective part of our training schedule and something we'd like to do in August.”
Preparation always involves a clever mixture of development whilst ramping up the level of reliability. The development aspect is key as there is constant innovation and the boat is permanently evolving with every lesson learned from the on-the-water training sessions. Reliability is also crucial because in order to win races you first have to finish them! “The main focus is to last! Making fast headway is good, essential even, but longevity is more important now as a 25-30-day race awaits us in 3 months' time with the Brest Atlantiques. In race format and at the pace we envisage driving our boats at, it's a major technical and sporting challenge!” explains the reigning champion of the Volvo Ocean Race.
TO WATCH // Irish training for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild's crew by Yann Riou / PolaRYSE.
Rolex Fastnet Race, set a date for 3 August at 12:30 hrs British time!
On 3 August 2019, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild will be venturing into the English waters around the Solent for the first time in this the 48th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race. A legendary event, it's a race zone very familiar to the Gitana fleet and notably the monohulls of Benjamin de Rothschild's father, Edmond de Rothschild. In fact, it's worth noting that the baron and his men added their names to the list of event winners in 1965 with Gitana IV, a magnificent 27-metre wooden yawl, which bagged the event record - 3 days 9 hours 40 minutes - that stood for some nineteen years.
Aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, the crew will be targeting Banque Populaire V's race time of 1 day 8 hours 48 minutes and 46 seconds (set in a breezy 2011). However, the main focus for Franck Cammas, Charles Caudrelier and their crew will be the confrontation with the three other competing Ultimes - Actual Leader, Macif and Sodebo.
For this first real-life test in fleet format, the duo on Edmond de Rothschild has chosen four sailors with an eclectic profile to accompany them: David Boileau, boat captain of the Maxi, Erwan Israël, a great racer and a familiar face on these fabulous machines after his various campaigns aboard Spindrift, Morgan Lagravière, a talented helmsman and outstanding Figaro sailor who is just discovering this universe of giants, not to mention Yann Riou, the future media man for the Brest Atlantiques and a Gitana Team stalwart.
On 3 August 2019, the Ultimes will be the first boats to set sail along the 600-mile course, with a scheduled start at 12:30 hrs local time.
Crew on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild - Rolex Fastnet Race
Franck Cammas / Charles Caudrelier - Skippers
David Boileau / Erwan Israël / Morgan Lagravière / Yann Riou