ITV with Fred Le Peutrec
We have put our delivery sails on board, fitted two rest bunks for crew and changed the configuration of the boat's computer. Not that much in fact. Depending on the wind, it should take us a little under a week to sail down to Corsica. As we have not had that much time to train after the Grand Prix de Fécamp, instructions were for each and everyone to keep themselves fighting fit to be in tiptop condition for the two Mediterranean races taking place over a two week period. As soon as we arrive, we will be getting the boat into her Grand Prix configuration, which basically involves removing the bunks, and changing the delivery sails for ocean racing sails for the Tour de Corse, which we will be changing once again for the Grand Prix sails for Saturday morning. That means that our shore crew - Jean, Laurent, William and Jean Pierre – have to take a fair bit of gear down and allow for lots of handling and adjustments.
From a sporting angle, the Grand Prix de Fécamp showed that we have improved as we finished 3rd, two points behind the winner Sergio Tacchini, the same number of points as Groupama, classified 2nd thanks to her bonus from her having won three rounds. With this sort of result, we are now among the favourites on the circuit. The status emphasises the work which the whole of the Gitana Team has put in since the start of the season, ashore and at sea.
I am not unfamiliar with sailing in the Mediterranean, as I have twice raced round Corsica in a sports catamaran. As for the weather, everything is possible. We know the traditional windy spots – Cape Corse and its opposite, Bonifacio. But it is of course quite possible that we encounter a whole range of wind conditions common in the Mediterranean. Flat, calm seas, thermal winds in a bay, slight breeze and choppy surface. All of which can sometimes change – often without any warning – to a 30-knot Mistral with gusts of up to 40 or 50 knots in storms on a steaming sea. At this time of year, over a three-day period of racing, there can be a great number of changes in rhythm. We shall have to be particularly careful in the way we handle Gitana 11.
As for the crew, our performance in Fécamp has put us into a positive frame of mind with regard to the role played by each crew member. A fine team performance as Fécamp was just our 2nd Grand Prix together. After having come a cropper in the Québec Saint Malo race in mid-July, we were unable to fulfil the training programme we had originally planned to follow as Gitana 11 spent almost one month in the shed this summer.
In Fécamp, Gitana 11 really stood apart from the 4th competitor Géant, and her chasers who never represented a true threat. The latest Grand Prix in the Channel was played out with our two direct opponents – the new Groupama and Sergio Tacchini which we come very close to in terms of speed potential. In our next two meetings, we are spurred on by our wish to pit ourselves against the best of the ORMA 2004 line-up and are aiming to make it to the podium in the two remaining Grand Prix. Why not the number one slot ? »