But between now and Tuesday 17 April, Lemonchois will be presented with the Prix Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe de l'Académie des Sports at the Sénat in Paris, an award bestowed for the accomplishment of a sporting feat resulting in material, scientific or moral progress for humanity.
His 2007 season will then get underway in Lorient on 13 May with the start of the AS Lease Challenge, a crewed race taking in Fastnet Rock and La Coruna before returning to Lorient. While Lionel Lemonchois will again be at the helm of Gitana 11, he will be accompanied this time by a first-class team made up of Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, Loick Peyron, Yann Guichard, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant and François Denis.
Gitana 11 is embarking on her 4th season under Gitana colours. Designed in 2001 by Marc van Peteghem & Vincent Lauriot-Prévost, this real sea-going trimaran has achieved a string of impressive results in ocean races, most notably two fine 2nd places in the 2003 and 2005 Transats Jacques Vabre and, above all, her fabulous victory in last year's Route du Rhum. What's more, when she crossed the finish line at Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe on 6 November, the vessel still looked as good as new.
Whereas the previous winter, Gitana 11 underwent major work – central hull cut to graft on a new centreboard casing and most notably a new hull bottom – this year, the changes made have been of a fine-tuning rather than a radical nature.