"I've just spent a couple of days doing a bit of DIY at home. It's really relaxing and keeps my mind on other things. I try not to add to the pressure. The Gitana Team has got my boat ready right down to the last detail. Given the time we've had before the start, she can't be in better shape. I trust the boat implicitly".
It is of the utmost importance that the skipper and the machine work together well for the boat's first transatlantic race. However the weather forecast for the start and the first days of the race will be completely new to the duo.
Look out ahead
Lionel : "Rather strong south westerly winds (25/30 knots – 46/55 km/h) are forecast for the exit o the Channel. I've not met those sort of conditions with this boat. But there's no reason for everything not to go perfectly well. We'll take things steady, get through the mind field before stepping on the gas...The main thing is to avoid gear failure".
And when Lionel mentions mine-fields, it is absolutely true. "With the wind which has been blowing over the Atlantic in the last few days, we are going to run into waves 5 metres high" , explains Sylvain Mondon from Météo France and Marc Guessard of the Gitana Team, Lionel's router and strategist on this Route du Rhum.
This morning the three men were studiously huddled together analysing the forecast, in order to pinpoint the best possible course to sail in view of the way Gitana X on different points of sail.
In spite of the persistent rain of the past three days, the 59 boats of this 7th edition attract the madding crowds. The dockside is heaving with the densely packed crowds. Gitana attracts her fair share of attention, and lots of questions are put to her skipper. Her most visible differences – "X" shaped crossbeams and banana-shaped floats – together with a sleek design, do make her stand out. Most of the questions Lionel answers are about these very points, in addition to his approach to the race. Just four groups of architects cover the entire multihull line-up : Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot Prévost for 2/3 of the fleet, Nigel Irens and Marc Lombard for 7 boats, and the Gitana Design Team with Gitana X. So the challenge is truly affirmed...
Anne Caseneuve, who is entered on a 50-foot multihull had her boat's on board laptop stolen the day before yesterday. As Gitana Team has one spare, they have lent it to Anne for the race. Just helping out a fellow sailor...
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