Last word
A week ago to the day Tuesday 11 November with the nightlife of Guadeloupe in full swing on the Place de la Victoire in Pointe-à-Pitre, Sébastien Josse crossed the finish line of the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe. The skipper of Gitana Team secured 3rd place, completing the podium for the 10th edition after a particularly intense 8 days, 14 hours, 47 minutes and 9 seconds at sea. At the helm of the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild the Tom Thumb of the Ultime class the solo sailor pulled off an outstanding performance against the giant trimarans of the star category. Before we turn the stunning page that encapsulates the Route du Rhum and set sail on a series of major new challenges, Sébastien Josse plunges back into his first solo transatlantic race aboard a multihull.
First solo transatlantic aboard a multihull

“I left Saint Malo feeling quietly confident because, together with the shore crew, we’d done all that was needed, but inevitably there was a little bit of tension as we set sail as it’s not everyday that you set off on such a race. The start is always a stressful moment. I wanted to be careful over the first few miles, which is what I did before really getting into the rhythm along the Breton coast during the first night. I knew that the first three days were going to be tough given the wind and sea state, but it was a bit like venturing into the unknown as far as the rest of it was concerned. I didn’t want to get caught up in the pressure from my rivals and risk making mistakes by sailing beyond my capabilities and going into the red. That was never the case though. At no time did I frighten myself during this transatlantic. I sailed my own race, at my own pace and when I felt fully confident I attacked. Aside from the first few days, where we had to hunker down in the rough weather, it was a sheer delight! I really had a ball, especially in the tradewinds. We had some relatively calm tradewinds, between 18 and 20 knots, and gentle seas: perfect conditions on a multihull. At 30 knots, under gennaker, flying two hulls, it’s simply magical… The finish remains a high point! The race and the stress are behind you and all that’s left are happy memories and the sense that you’ve done a good job. It was my first solo race on a multihull, but I’d sign up straightaway for a second!”

A 3rd place that smacked of victory

“When I set sail on a race, I head off with the most rational idea possible of how I think things will pan out. In this case, I reckoned that a 4th place would be a great result in itself given the line-up of big multihulls in the Ultime class. However, in the back of my mind, I wanted more. I believed I had a card up my sleeve in the 70-80-foot category. Banque Populaire and Spindrift were untouchable due to the sheer size of the boats. If we’d had the same boats, things could have been different, but clearly there was very little match racing involved, even though I managed to keep pace with them for a few days. Whilst I was sailing flat out to secure my 3rd place, I think Loïck and Yann still had at least 20% of their machines’ potential to play with. I won the Route du Rhum in my category (laughs)… that of the ‘tiny big’ multihulls!”

A team alongside you

“As always, the members of Gitana Team did an outstanding job, as much during the winter refit as in the preparation of the boat. It’s very important to be able to rely on such a team. Knowing that you have a machine where nothing has been left to chance, enables you to set sail with confidence and transcend yourself on the water. My third place is theirs of course. Obviously I include Antoine Koch and Jean-Yves Bernot in that as they did a fantastic job routing me over this race. Antoine and I know each other inside out and that was a considerable asset in this race. The choices of trajectories were completely in line with what I was experiencing at sea. We were on the same wavelength and everything ran incredibly smoothly. We work together on a daily basis as Antoine is also in charge of Gitana Team’s design office and we’ve sailed together a great deal over the past three years. This complicity played a key part so thank you to him.”

Daring and innovation rewarded

“Technically, everything went well aside from an engine issue in the last few days. The damage could have been very serious for the race, because without an engine you don’t have any power and hence no automatic pilot. However, we found some solutions to keep it going all the way to the finish and I had to helm a lot at the end.

The system of lifting surfaces developed by Gitana Team, in collaboration with Guillaume Verdier’s team, clearly proved itself and the rudders made Guadeloupe intact. This transatlantic race enabled us to validate the reliability of the system in the rough weather over the initial days of racing, as well as over the long term. The Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild was not equipped with tools to measure performance but in terms of sensation the added bonus is very real. The T-foil rudders create an unquestionable turbo effect on the boat at certain points of sail. The addition of this system also has appeal in terms of safety as we had increased stability, which notably enabled me to push hard in the breezy conditions over the first few days without feeling as if I was in danger. Gitana Team’s gamble was a daring one given the short timeframe for developing it and making it reliable but the experiment has been a success. Our scope for improvement is still significant, which promises to be a thrilling factor in the next stage of proceedings.”

The future

“The Gitana Team will continue with the developments to the platform on Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild. With the lifting surfaces on the float rudders, we’ve opened a way forward and taken a first important step, but it’s not over. We still have a lot of work to do and we’re going to carry out more extensive investigations on the latest generation appendages. The aim is obviously to capitalise on the advances we’ve made and become the first flying oceanic trimaran. At the same time, the team is working on the 60’ monohull Edmond de Rothschild, which is currently in build at Multiplast in Vannes and whose launch is scheduled for June 2015. It’s another, equally motivating challenge, which awaits us with the Transat Jacques Vabre in November and of course our minds are already on the Vendée Globe 2016 too. As a skipper I am overjoyed! Benjamin and Ariane de Rothschild, and the Edmond de Rothschild group, have given us an incredible opportunity to live out our passion at the highest level; a massive thank you to them!”

Though the final curtain has fallen on Sébastien Josse and the sailors in the Ultime category, some forty-eight sailors are still at sea today. They too will soon savour the delights of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe finish line. The racing stable founded by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild looks forward to seeing you again in four years time for the 11th edition of the star of the solo transatlantic races, which has once again proven the aptness of its title.

Ranking for the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe / Ultime Class
  1. Banque Populaire VII (Loïck Peyron) in 7 days, 15 hours, 8 minutes and 32 seconds
  2. Spindrift 2 (Yann Guichard) in 8 days, 5 hours, 18 minutes and 46 seconds
  3. Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) in 8 days, 14 hours, 47 minutes and 9 seconds
  4. Prince de Bretagne (Lionel Lemonchois) in 8 days, 17 hours, 44 minutes and 50 seconds 
  5. Musandam Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) in 8 days, 19 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds
  6. Idec Sport (Francis Joyon) in 9 days, 4 hours, 42 minutes and 4 seconds
  7. Paprec Recyclage (Yann Eliès) in 9 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 15 seconds

Abd - Sodebo Ultim'

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