Both trimarans - Gitana X and Gitana 11 - skippered by Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and Frédéric Le Peutrec will be lining up on the starting line where once again they will be meeting up with their playmates after a winter season with lots of work in the build shed and various training sessions.
Atypical course, no routing assistance … Competitors will have to manage all the weather criteria alone on board which on paper at least, looks rather more complicated on some parts of the course than on others. The course can be divided up into four sections – an exit form the Bay of Biscay (Lorient-Cape Finisterre = 370 miles), a long run down the coast of Portugal and Spain (Cape Finisterre-Gibraltar = 545 miles), a long passage across the western Mediterranean (Gibraltar-Malta = 1 000 miles) and a leg NE, leaving Sicily to starboard, then N into the Tyrrhenaian Sea (Malta-Nice = 600 miles).
When you analyse this unusual course, it is clear that nothing will be decided before reaching Nice as the Mediterranean is home to highly unpredictable winds. Once the Strait of Gibraltar is in the rear view mirror, the weather can be very tough indeed and the gear is truly put to the test. In the Atlantic, storms kick up rough seas but which are generally regular. The Big Blue can give rise to very short boat-breaking waves. Managing weather, anticipating wind shifts and taking account of coastal effects and thermal breezes will be some of the tough tasks facing the navigators.
Gitana crew for the IB Group Challenge
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (skipper)
Erwan Le Roux (helm)
Mayeul Riffet (navigator)
Nicolas Raynaud (trimmer)
Jacques Guichard (trimmer)
Léopold Lucet (bowman)
Frédéric Le Peutrec (skipper)
Yann Guichard (navigator)
Loïc Le Mignon (trimmer)
Jean-Baptiste Epron (trimmer)
François Denis (bowman)
Yann Marilley (trimmer)
Gitana Team, to the power of two
After a five month winter refit in the shed of Gitana Team's shed in Saint-Philibert, Gitana X has lost weight, a total of 250 kg ! The trimaran has a new mast, new sails for her third season. The team is not out to win on the ORMA circuit, as the boat clearly lacks the potential to do so. The aim is to give a chance to young talent to gain access to multihull racing. After having been boat captain last year, Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, is the new skipper on board. Almost all the crew are under thirty with the exception of Nicolas Raynaud. Erwan Le Roux (tactician) was bowman on Gitana X last year, Jacques Guichard (trimmer) was also on the boat in 2004. Mayeul Riffet (navigator) was formerly crew on Banque Populaire and on Sopra Group and Léopold Lucet (foredeck) was already one of the Gitana Team shore crew last year.
Gitana 11 has been optimised over the winter without any radical modifications being made. These developments have to make it possible for Frédéric Le Peutrec's trimaran to perform every bit as well as the latest generation of multihulls. Last season, the whole team got to know what made this trimaran tick. She has excellent qualities in certain conditions and on certain points of sail, particularly downwind in rough seas offshore. Over the winter season, the starting point was not to touch the boat's strong points, but to concentrate on identifying her weak points to compensate for them upwind and improve her course holding ability. A new large chord mast, a slimmer dagger board with trimmer (partly multi-directional trailing edge), revised rudders, shrouds moved aft, a new lighter boom… Lots of details have been optimised and Gitana 11 is now perfectly adapted and ready for this new ocean race.
Boats entered in the IB-Group Challenge :
Pascal Bidégorry (Banque Populaire-4), Armel Le Cléac'h (Foncia), Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant), Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana X), Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11), Franck Cammas (Groupama-2)