For Gitana 11, this second place just a few minutes behind Groupama-2 is more than satisfying even if the newest trimaran afloat is always slightly ahead, particularly in unsteady winds, in gaining speed after a manœuvre and in light puffs of wind where she gets going earlier. It is difficult to imagine that the difference could be reduced still further but the differences observed last season are much less noticeable now. Gitana 11 won last September's Calvi Grand Prix. A repeat performance is quite possible. However, the slightest error has a high price tag and on an hour long windward leeward course, a messy start, a bad choice in an upwind leg, or a badly negotiated option downwind, or a badly coordinated manœuvre… are heavily sanctioned. Particularly within a fleet where all boats have a very similar potential. It is not easy to free oneself from the foul wind of those ahead which limits tactical possibilities and the ability to get back into the match.
The bright young things on Gitana X have made great progress, but there is still room for improvement. The crew makes no secret of the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done to make the manœuvres more fluid, find the right trim quickly and remain strategically lucid when they are tailing the fleet. The apprenticeship is advancing steadily at its own speed but the good news is that the boat is already performing much better that it did last season. That was already obvious in the first race of the season, from Lorient to Nice. The deficit is not easy to make up for as is concerns Gitana X ‘s configuration and design. She is heavier than her colleagues, has banana shaped floats ad cannot hope to match the potential of her fellow competitors. But once again, excellent work on tactics, trimming, manœuvres, helm should enable the crew to upset the apple cart a little of short courses where she can come out in the lead at the very start again an advantage which they have to be able to manage thereafter.
With six rounds to race on Saturday and Sunday in what is likely to be a 10-15 knot SW breeze , on a relatively flat sea and in brilliant sunshine, perfect conditions are in store for the crews who wish to give full rein to their honed racing skills. The Gitana Team has several assets at its disposal. Certain things are already starting to affect the way things might turn out between the three leaders - Groupama-2, Gitana 11, and Banque Populaire – as Foncia, who is also in with a chance, has a problem with the foot of her mast and will not be racing on Sunday. Géant does not appear to be at ease in medium unsteady winds and TIM-Progetto Italia has not been sufficiently developed to be in with a chance of being up there with the leaders. Never the less, surprises are always possible. In sailing, nothing can ever be taken for granted. In any event, the Gitana Team will be aiming high !
Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11) :
« The deciding factor happened at Giraglia (northern tip of Corsica). Groupama-2 and Gitana 11 made it there at the same time but we lost contact in a windless zone, which meant that Groupama-2 was able to cover us, masking us and giving us no choice but to follow up the rear. In the 8 knot wind, he was able to run more efficiently before the wind with his gennaker up.
Events leading up to that points had been interesting, with quite a lot of chopping and changing between us, depending on the wind. The thermal breezes were not steady and there was good pressure ashore which enabled us to move ahead of Franck Cammas before the Gulf of Ajaccio. Armel Le Cléac'h and Pascal Bidégorry were not far behind either but in that sort of situation, it is each to his own. Boats were racing almost one on one until Foncia retired.
In the bouches de Bonifacio, the 20 knot wind veered NE, forcing the fleet to tack up to Cape Corsica. Overnight, it was anybody's race with highly variable winds. We were constantly in contact with Groupama-2. Gaps with the chasers increased during this period as the wind was always better up front. But Groupama-2 is faster than Gitana 11, particularly in unstable winds. This Round Corsica Race was fast but tiring ! »
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana X) :
« This Round Corsica Race was not easy. At the start, we had a bit of trouble finding our feet until we got to Ajaccio. We were gradually distanced and at the Moines lighthouse, the transition between the NW wind and the E breeze was tougher for us. We were powerless to do anything except watch the others disappear over the horizon one by one. That meant we were on our own, which is hard as you have no-one to pit yourself against, in terms of speed or trim.
Conditions were highly changeable with up to 30 knots head to wind in the Bouches de Bonifacio and then a 24 knot cross wind at Cape Corsica but also periods of calm, windless zones, the odd puff of wind here and there… As personalised weather information was ruled out, tactics were that much trickier based on the forecast given at the start. The Mediterranean is known for changing its rapidly changing regimes. This was a really great race and with crew of six, we were fine for a day long race. »
Round 1 - Grand Prix de Corse (Round Corsica Race : 250 miles) :
1-Franck Cammas (Groupama) finished at 8h 19' 26''
2-Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11) finished at 8h 29' 27'', 10'01'' behind the leader
3-Pascal Bidegorry (Banque Populaire) finished at 9h 15' 38'', 56'12'' behind the leader
4-Giovanni Soldini (TIM-Progetto Italia) finished at 9h 50' 00'', 1h30'34'' behind the leader
5-Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant) finished at 10h 49' 09'', 2h29'43'' behind the leader
6-Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana X) finished at 12h 17' 03'', 3h57'37'' behind the leader
7-Armel Le Cléac'h (Foncia) retired
For further information… www.gitana-team.com
In the world of sailing, the name Gitana is inseparable from the French-Swiss branch of the Rothschild family. It conjures up century old images of a particular lifestyle where passion, team spirit and the quest for excellence come together. Under the aegis of the Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, the Gitana history turned to multihulls in 2000 when the Gitana IX entered the Transat Québec /Saint-Malo. For the second year in a row, the Baron has entered two trimarans - Gitana X and Gitana 11 – in the ORMA Championship. The Gitana X, is devoted to the training of young talent and the objective for Gitana 11 is excellent performance at the top level. Tradition, innovation and transmission.
Photo Image Bank : Yvan Zedda Video Image Bank : Néfertiti Production