When a yachtsman wins a race, he has every reason to be satisfied, even if the good result goes hand in hand with two less impressive scores. Frédéric Le Peutrec crew kicked off with a foil problem from the very first upwind leg, which meant they lost contact with the rest of the fleet. On a windward / leeward leg where there was frankly not that much opportunity to make any tactical options, they ended up with fourth. Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and his crew took fifth in the same round, which goes to show that they too were at home when the wind picks up, wind having been sadly lacking in previous Grand Prix. The trimaran never lost contact with the leaders. This was shown yet again on the second round, run straight after the first with a much steadier wind. After a brilliant start, having managed to keep Groupama-2 at bay close-hauled, Gitana X remade it to the rear bumper of the group of three tightly packed trimarans. One hundred percent into the swing of things, the crew sailed a fine first leg but when it came to hoisting the gennaker, the sail ripped open bang smack in the middle forcing Gitana X to finish the round and the following one too without this essential big headsail for runs downwind.
Fortunately, Gitana 11 got her own back on the second round handling the upwind section with style, leading at the windward mark. In spite of the pressure put on by Groupama-2, who had Banque Populaire hot on her heels, Frédéric Le Peutrec took her second win of the Grand Prix season. But on the ultimate windward/leeward loop of the day, the crew was not quite so on the ball after a sluggish start. They had no choice but to change tack on the wrong side of the course to clear the way and Gitana 11 found herself fourth at the windward mark in spite of Foncia having never let up, not even managing to move one step up the ladder.
This first day of the Grand Prix Cap l'Orient finishes on a rather positive note. Weekend weather forecast announces windy conditions, which both trimarans and their crews appreciate.
Frédéric Le Peutrec (Gitana 11):
« A positive day all in all. On the first round, the foil came out of its housing, which caused a spot of bother as we were fighting hard against Groupama-2 and Banque Populaire at the time. The course in Lorient is quite special in fact. Some of the legs run are almost compulsory, which means that the hierarchy is often decided by the windward mark. On the second round, we squeezed into the lead and managed to keep Groupama-2 off our backs, although she was there at every mark. Never the less, we managed to fight her off until the finish. We did not do so well on the third round. Our position on the starting line was not so hot and we had to change tack early on, and had no choice but to head for the wrong side of the course. Fourth at the top of the course, we finished fourth at the end too. But by the end of the day, we are just two points behind Banque Populaire and five points from Groupama-2: still worth making sparks for! »
Xavier Dagault (Gitana X):
« We had a brilliant start on the second round of the day and ran a perfect first upwind leg, in the lead at the windward buoy where Gitana 11, Banque Populaire and Groupama-2 managed to overtake us when we changed tack to round the mark. All at close quarters. When we rolled the gennaker out, it tore wide open in the middle. We reckon that the Kevlar cloth has had it, as it really is right in the middle of the fabric. That certainly handicapped us, leaving no option but to run the last two rounds without this downwind sail. We preferred to stay in the running rather than to give up. Just as well really as we are only one point behind Géant ! Should have more wind this weekend and if the gennaker is not repaired in time, we do have a spare. Overall, our manoeuvres were not too bad and the starts were pretty lively. In the space of four Grand Prix, we have made quite a bit of progress ! »
Provisional rankings of the Grand Prix Cap l'Orient (three rounds) :
1- Franck Cammas - Groupama-2 (1+2+1) 4 points
2- Pascal Bidegorry - Banque Populaire (2+3+2) 7 points
3- Frédéric Le Peutrec - Gitana 11 (4+1+4) 9 points
4- Armel Le Cléac'h – Foncia (3+4+3) 10 points
5- Michel Desjoyeaux - Géant (6+5+5) 16 points
6- Thierry Duprey du Vorsent - Gitana X (5+6+6) 17 points
Round 1 : 12-15 knots westerly wind with gusting, windward/leeward course (windward mark at 2 ½ miles) three rounds.
Round 2 : 12-15 knots SW/W wind, increasing to 18 knots with gusting, then dropping to 12 knots, windward/leeward course (windward mark at 2 1/3 miles) three rounds.
Round 3 : 12-15 knots, westerly wind, windward/leeward course (windward mark at 2 ½ miles) three rounds.