Sixteen days for the outward leg but just an estimated five to six days for the return leg… The weather window with which the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild cast off from Martinique on Saturday was really worth snapping up. Naturally, the distance to travel is beyond compare. Indeed, it’s worth pointing out that the large multihulls sailed a theoretical course of 7,500 miles in the Transat Jacques Vabre and on average they actually covered nearly 9,200 miles over the ground. Meantime, the direct route between Martinique and Breton shores are scarcely more than 3,500 nautical miles away. Above all though, Charles Caudrelier is currently benefiting from some boisterous weather conditions, to the south of a low pressure system, which have been conducive to sailing the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild at her full potential. In this way, the trio aboard the five-arrow maxi-trimaran are currently enjoying an express delivery trip. The timing is just perfect too because upon her return to Lorient, the giant will be entrusted to the expert hands of her shore crew. Indeed, as announced, Gitana Team’s goal for the start of the season remains unchanged: the Christmas period is set to coincide with a fresh standby for the Jules Verne Trophy record attempt for Franck Cammas, Charles Caudrelier and their four crew.
A dazzling victory, the fruit of teamwork
Ariane de Rothschild, owner of the five-arrow racing stable and the primary support for the members of Gitana Team in the various challenges they undertake, was in attendance at the start and followed the race every day. The win secured in Martinique by her team and the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild will remain a special moment for her: “Last week was such a great pleasure for us! This victory means a great deal to my daughters and I this year, with the passing of Benjamin. Winning this transatlantic, with this boat, was the best possible way to pay tribute to him. We witnessed a technical and strategic race, not just a drag race. It goes without saying that the boat is incredible, but our skippers, Franck and Charles, have just demonstrated through the outstanding way they managed the technological aspect, that she hadn’t yet been racing at her true potential. I’ll like to express my heartfelt thanks to Cyril Dardashti, who has managed Gitana with real passion and commitment for the past 13 years, and to all the teams, they too the great architects of this magnificent victory. Gitana 17 is as flamboyant as Benjamin was. He would have been especially proud.”
5 mins of Transat Jacques Vabre
Recap of a victorious transatlantic race in the skippers’ eyes
16 days 1 hour 49 minutes and 16 seconds is the time it took for Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier to take the win in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2021 in the Ultime category. The skippers of Gitana Team invite us to climb aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild for the duration of the 7,500 theoretical miles that make up the course between Le Havre and Fort-de-France, via Brazil. Talented sailors, we discover them just as at ease behind the camera as they take us behind the scenes of their fabulous sporting performance.
Franck Cammas & Charles Caudrelier, choice elements
The Cammas-Caudrelier duo, a bold and unique way of working, whose pertinence speaks for itself race after race.
Franck Cammas: “ Our duo worked well. That’s the benefit of the experience we’ve been amassing for the past three years, by dint of sailing we converge toward solutions, we believe in it, we go for it, and that’s thanks to experience. You have to know how to try things out and be very honest about the results, but by dint of sailing together we both manage to come away with great certainty and if those certainties are shared so much the better. The way you trim the boat, how you carry the sails, the risk taking, etc. We really have a feel for the boat now. It’s fair to say that compared with two years ago, we’ve made a lot of progress. We’ve been solid right across the board, whether it be in light airs, at high speed or in taking strategic decisions, it’s always been very fluid.”
Charles Caudrelier: “When we arrived in the Gitana Team in 2019, we both knew each other really well, but we had a different way of helming the boat. We weren’t matched in that regard and it wasn’t easy. In this transatlantic, we each took a step towards the other. I tried to be a bit more sensible sometimes and Franck less conservative. We carried a little more sail area than usual and that worked pretty well. We were a bit more in attack mode and I think that’s what enabled us to steal a march. We were clearly on the attack on rounding Cape Finisterre and I don’t think we’d have ever sailed like that last year.”
The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and her duo were the favourites and they ran with that label in this Transat Jacques Vabre.
Charles Caudrelier: “We’ve been living the dream for 2 - 3 years sailing on these revolutionary flying boats. These latest generation maxis are markers in naval architecture and we’re lucky enough to be pioneers. We’re exploring a whole new universe with these boats. We’re familiar with the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. We’re in perfect harmony with her today. However, it’s very interesting because sailing against new, high-performance boats, has prompted us to raise our game. The very varied weather conditions also led us to find new ways of trimming her, especially so in the light airs against SVR, which proved to be very quick on that point of sail. For our part, we identified lots of things we could develop, which is positive going forward. That means that the boat has yet to express her true potential.”
Franck Cammas: “Whatever we had to do we tried to do it well every time and bring our A game from the start. The start is anecdotal, but it’s always important to do things right from the get-go, gradually gaining confidence. The first few hours of the race were certainly pretty magical. The boat was fantastic and seeing our little playmates doing well, albeit behind us (laughs)… it went superbly. Further down the track, when we were at Fromveur and crossed tacks again with our two compatriots, we felt less triumphant, but ultimately it was a very good decision to retrace our steps and not carry on going, that shows that we had a certain confidence in our choices.”
This latest victory in the Transat Jacques Vabre – the fourth for Franck and the third for Charles – has a rather special taste for the two skippers and for the whole of Gitana Team.
Charles Caudrelier: “2020 was a tough year. We had very few races, two Jules Verne attempts that came to nothing and above all the passing of Benjamin de Rothschild, our owner in January. Inevitably, it was a frustrating year competitively and that was tinged with a great deal of sadness for Gitana team. Without Benjamin de Rothschild’s passion, the Gitana Team wouldn’t exist! 20 years ago, he made the decision to continue the family tradition, whilst revolutionising it and gearing it towards multihulls. He was humble with it and respectful too, and it is his willpower that has made the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild what she is today. When Gitana Team launched this boat, nobody believed that we would one day fly offshore. And today it’s a reality! For all these reasons, I’m delighted to be able to treat Ariane de Rothschild, her daughters and all the team to this victory.”
Franck Cammas: “We had some technical issues in the Jules Verne Trophy. It really puts a team through the mill… However, it’s at times like those that it’s important to have an organised and efficient team, which is eager and believes in the boat’s chances. Winning gives everyone confidence and it spurs everyone on individually. Victories like this are also important for that. It builds a future on solid foundations. We’re already casting our mind forward to what comes next, in crewed configuration…”