The Gitana Team was over the moon when Gitana X rounded the first windward mark in third position. Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and his crew sailed remarkably well on Saturday, getting off to good starts and making wise tactical decisions. Manoeuvres ran smoothly, in spite of the odd mistake here and there. Perfectly normal as almost half the crew is racing in the Grnad Prix for the first time and particularly in windy conditions which strengthened all the time. Starting out with an 18-knot SW breeze, the wind picked up to around 25 knots – mainsail and Solent up at the start, only to finish with one reef in the main and the staysail up.
And the satisfaction did not stop there. On each starting line, Gitana X was in the match, making her presence felt by Banque Populaire and Géant, with TIM-Progetto Italia always in her rear view mirror ! On one occasion, Michel Desjoyeaux was in the process of being greatly distanced but a problem with a gennaker on Gitana X put paid to that.
A slightly bitter aftertaste for Gitana 11, as it is not always easy to swallow the fact that Groupama-2 is essentially faster. But Frédéric Le Peutrec and his crew did an excellent job in the four rounds even overtaking Franck Cammas on two occasions when he put a put wrong. A heavy price is paid even for a minor mistake and Groupama-2 came close to paying very heavily indeed when he gybed late and found herself being covered by Gitana 11.
At the end of the day, Frédéric Le Peutrec had clocked up four second places, sometimes several lengths ahead of Franck Cammas, who had not necessarily made that many mistakes. At the end of the Round Corsica Race on Thursday and this fabulous day for the public gathered on the ramparts in the citadelle in Calvi, Gitana 11 is almost certain to take second overall in this Grand Prix, likewise Gitana X for fifth on Sunday. The wind is likely to have fallen away overnight giving way to a very light breeze on Sunday morning, leading to a thermal breeze by midday. Perhaps only a single race may be possible on Sunday having no effect on the current rankings…
Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11) :
« Superb day, beautiful conditions for multihull sailing. The wind rose to 25-27 knots and on the sort of course we have here, it makes for exhausting but brilliant racing conditions ! We had to go in search of coastal effects and with four rounds being run today, the guys are a little washed out. No technical hitch on board, we managed to read the course well and our being obstinate paid of, putting us ahead of Groupama-2 from time to time. We managed to do so twice in fact, on the first and third round, but he managed to come back each time. Groupama-2 tacks faster than Gitana 11 and 18 knots head to wind, that makes all the difference, enabling the faster boat to be in control.
On Sunday, the wind will be lighter and it I highly likely that the overall rankings will not budge. Groupama-2 is at ease in light air. We shall have to keep an eye on Banque Populaire who was not that lively at the start of the day but who had become quite dangerous by the last round. We were consistent, but Groupama-2 was out of reach and Banque Populaire not on form. We really need to watch out for her. Five rounds - we have a little room for manoeuvre and are in with a chance of keeping our current place in the final rankings. »
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana X) :
« Conditions were superb for racing. We were pleased with ourselves. It was the first time we were racing in this crew configuration in steady wind. In terms of manoeuvre and cohesion, it was all new for us. The outcome was positive and even if there's still a lot of work to be done to avoid mucking up as we did on one or two manoeuvres, particularly when we had a knot in the gennaker. We also had one or two problems with canting the mast.
Compared with a couple of other boats, there is room for potential in the future. It's encouraging for the team, ashore and afloat, all the more so as we know that we are going to be able to improve further. The boat is n now much more up to scratch this year than it was last year thanks to the work we did over the winter. No way would we have been able to stick as close to Géant last year as we can now ! It's good for morale that we managed to have another boat behind us each time, and that we rounded a mark third, giving a bit of gip to Michel Desjoyeaux. »
Provisional rankings - Grand Prix de Corse (after five rounds) :
1-Franck Cammas (Groupama) 5 points
2-Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11) 10 points
3-Pascal Bidégorry (Banque Populaire) 15 points
4-Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant) 21 points
5-Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (Gitana X) 26 points
6-Giovanni Soldini (TIM-Progetto Italia) 30 points
7-Armel Le Cléac'h (Foncia) 40 points