At the outset, the idea for the Gitana Team was that they would set out for Boston at the same time and sail to Québec together. However Gitana X's damaged dagger board forced her to return to France 24 hours into the race, changing the programme somewhat. Gitana X and Gitana 11 rallied Québec separately.
Gitana X set out from La Trinité last Friday, 18th June for a 3,000 mile long passage close to the distances of The Transat and Québec-Saint Malo. On board, six sailors, four of whom - Thierry Duprey, boat captain on Gitana X to whom Marc handed the helm. Olivier Wroczynsky (Zolive), Nicolas Raynaud and Erwan Le Roux, who are part of the crew on the Québec – Saint Malo race, and two others, Léo Lucet, part of the shore crew and 20 year old Anatole Modaï who will be crossing the Atlantic for the first time, savouring each instant the happiness and his good fortune to be on one of the F1 of the seas.
Marc Guillemot, skipper of Gitana X has decided to stay ashore for two reasons. Firstly, to give Thierry Duprey the chance to helm « his » trimaran, and secondly a sailor for whom he has profound respect and whom he wishes to give the opportunity to be the master on board for this crossing. He wants to be on the other side of the camera as it were and take care of routing Gitana X on this crossing. Marc explains : «Of course, I'm not doing so in race conditions with a24-hour watch, but not far from it as I'm in the thick of it. In staying ashore, I can get to the root of things and see situations from a different point of view. On the outside looking in, I have a better understanding of how we can exploit the multitude of weather and strategy information we now have at our fingertips and compare them with what happens out on the course. This will enhance my sailing culture, that's for sure. I have a better understanding and appreciation of the job done by Yann Guichard and Luc Poupon on the last races where they took care of the routing for me.
Whilst Marc is glued to his computer screen, the crew of six are reeling in the miles and getting closer to Québec with and ETA of Monday or Tuesday of next week. For the time being, they have been sailing since yesterday evening in a dangerous zone of icebergs and growlers, which they should be through by the end of the afternoon. The e-mails received from onboard could not been clearer. Léo yesterday evening at 23h15 : « We are in the one of icebergs 47N15 by 47W05. It's not that warm here. Water temperatures must be around 6 to 7 degrees. Everything is fine on board but you have to be keep your eyes on the radar up on deck and at the chart table because of the ice ». Just one hour earlier, Zolive and Nicolas described the sailing conditions : « we have been invaded by theNewfoundland fog. The seas are really rough and the icebergs chill the air. Our arms and legs are numbed by the cold and manoeuvres are tough, the frost up on deck making it difficult to move… but apart form that everything is fine. We're at 25 knots in heavy seas but Gitana X is fine reaching, with her floater and bow well clear of the water. You feel that you could push the machine quite a lot further which is good news for the Québec Saint Malo. But we are on a delivery here so we have to bear that in mind. As for the atmosphere on board, it's great ».
Ashore, Marc cannot hide the pleasure he feels in seeing his crew sail so well : « They haven't had to get the tool box or sewing kit out once. They are excellent yachtsmen who sail « clean », fast and well ».
For Gitana 11, things have been much easier as the boat arrive don the other side of the Atlantic at the end of The Transat.
In order to cover the 1,200 miles separating Boston from Québec along the coast of Nova Scotia, the Gulf of the Saint Lawrence River and the sail upriver to Québec, the crew cast off at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon local time – 21h French time), not before having made repairs to the dagger board damaged in a collision with a UFO (unidentified floating object) repaired in situ by the two pillars of Gitana Team's shore crew, Laurent Bourgues and Jean Le Houérou- Kérisel.
On board, the crew is also six strong just like on Gitana X, five of whom are part of the sailing team for the Québec Saint Malo. Skipper Fred Le Peutrec is getting on intimate terms with the boat, Yann Marriley - Gitana Team project manager is over the moon to be sailing again, setting aside the administration and management of the Team for a while, together with Fred Brousse, Yann Guichard and François Denis (Bambino). The 6th man is composite specialist, Laurent Bourgues from the Gitana Team technical pool who, like his alter ego, Léo Lucet, on Gitana X, is sailing on the open ocean for the first time, amazed to see a whale blowing for the first time.
Shortly before arriving, Yann Marilley briefly sums up the five day express delivery passage : « We have sailed really well with the gennaker as far as Cap Breton where we caught sight of TIM and Foncia (two other trimaran also on delivery sails to Québec),often reaching at speeds of 20 knots, but never using the foils to avoid breaking them on a UFO. Afterwards we made for Madeleine Island, then Trou Percé, where we took on a guest. Thereafter, bound for the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, reaching at 23 knots (crosswinds).That's where the shop's boy Laurent saw his first whales blowing and his first seal 150 metres from the boat. On the way up the Saint Lawrence river things were calmer all round, as the wind was practically non-existent with juts the odd puff of wind here and there. Morale and atmosphere on board are tip top. This delivery passage will have been beneficial to team cohesion and for helping us in becoming more familiar with the boat sailed short-handed. All in all, we take great pleasure in sailing together with a common aim – super place in the Québec – Saint Malo ».
Facts & figures :
After this dress rehearsal, the crew of Gitana 11 is perfectly ready to get down to competing against the 11 other competitors entered in the 6th edition of this great classic where the multihull fleet will be setting out at 12h50 local time on 11th July for a 3,000 mile long race, the first 371 of which will be run down the Saint Lawrence river. The record to beat - Fujicolor - Loïck Peyron en 1996 : 7 days, 20 hours and 24 minutes. Titleholder : Groupama – 2000 edition in 9 days, 23 hours, 16 mn.
Entered in the 2004 edition :
Banque Covéfi, Banque Populaire, Foncia, Géant, Groupama, Médiatis Région Aquitaine, Sergio Tacchini, Sodébo, Sopra Group, TIM Progretto Italie and of course ….Gitana X.
A little bit of background :
The 1st edition of the Québec – Saint Malo was held in 1984, to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the arrival of French man Jacques Cartier (from Saint Malo) in Canada. At the origin of a perfect opportunity for the people of Québec and Saint Malo to consolidate their privileged relationship.