Every other weekend throughout the winter, both of the Gitana Open 7.50's - Gitana Pin's (Fred Le Peutrec) and Gitana Junior (Thierry Duprey) – took part in the Autumn Challenge (October-November) then in the Spring Challenge (January-February-March) to keep their reflexes up to scratch in terms of tactics, manoeuvres and helming. The 7.50 metre long monohulls sailed by a crew of five or six sailors (max crew weight 720 kg) give sensations which are very close to those you feel when sailing multihulls – lots of downwind sailing, fast manoeuvres, strategy with regard to the wind and the current, crew co-ordination, coherent exchanges of information…
The twenty strong fleet of Open 7.50's entered in the Spi Ouest France are sailed by top-notch crews from a wide range of backgrounds, including mutlihull racing (Loïck Peyron, Alain Gautier, Marc Guillemot), the Olympics (Pierre Pennec, Jean-Philippe Saliou), round-the-world racing (Vincent Riou, Jean-Pierre Dick), America's Cup (Bruno Troublé, Hugues Destremau), the Solitaire du Figaro (Charles Caudrelier, Armel Le Cléac'h), pure racing round the cans or specialists in the series (Daniel Le Mené, Emmanuel Nizin, Nicolas Groleau, Erwan Dubois) … Any one of some fifteen sailors might make it onto the podium in the 27th Spi Ouest France !
There is a strong presence of the Gitana Team's ORMA circuit crew. Some will be racing on one of the two Open 7.50's entered by the Gitana Team and others will be on board other boats in the fleet. Caroline Vieille on Adonnante.com with Nicolas Groleau, Alex Marmorat on Vecteur Plus with Marc Guillemot, Antoine Mermod on Aquaculture Jaouen with Charles Caudrelier. The Spi Ouest France starts on Friday 25th March and finishes on Monday 28th March, with five to seven rounds being run in the Bay of Quiberon.
Thierry Duprey :
« Thanks to the Open 7.50 we can work on crew cohesion as key crew positions are identical to those in multihull sailing (helm, tactics, bow, trimming). It is the occasion for me to discover what it is like to helm round the cans. Being tactician is a new experience for Erwan as he used to be bownman. Léopold, Jacques and Mathieu are in positions they are familiar with through Grand Prix Multihull racing. We'll be concentrating on exchanging information, communication, making sure that we all use the same terms and so on with the same meanings.
We are quite pleased with our results for the start of the season as we area second in the provisional rankings in the Spring Challenge. Competition is tougher in the Spi Ouest France, but we could end up with a good score. We have also exchanged a fair bit of information about sail shape with Gitana Pin's and we acted as training partner for each other. But when push comes to shove, out on the race course, Fred is just like any other competitor… »
Fred Le Peutrec :
« The Open 7.50 class is highly active and the boat is sailed in a very similar way to a multihull. It helps us to keep our sailing skills fresh, fine tune our starting techniques, make the right tactical choices and analyse a course. A great way to get back into the swing of things as there is very little difference between the boats when it comes to speed. (They differ only in terms of sail shape.) There's a top-notch line-up staffed by crew from the ORMA circuit. There's an excellent competitive spirit in the class and the Spi Ouest France is tough. The Bay of Quiberon offers a highly technical course. Open 7.50's are very demanding little boats in terms of trimming – highly instructive all round particularly for improving dynamic reactivity when racing.
Our common race training sessions on the Open 7.50's have meant that we have been able to confront the Gitana X crew, exchange all sorts of things, keep motivation levels up and so on, all of which is greatly facilitated by the size of the boats and also from a logistical point of view compared with our trimarans. We have got to know each other better as a result, communicate better and generate a highly positive competitive spirit. »
Thierry Duprey (skipper-helm),
Erwan Le Roux (tactician)
Mathieu Tatibouët (trimmer)
Jacques Guichard (trimmer)
Marie-Albane Daniel (2nd bowman)
Léopold Lucet (bowman)
Fred Le Peutrec (skipper-helm)
Philippe Neiras (tactician)
Fred Guillemin (trimmer)
Laurent Mermod (2nd bowman)
François Denis (bowman)