Lionel Lemonchois, winner of the transat's 2005 edition alongside Pascal Bidégorry and also victorious in the Route du Rhum 2006 aboard Gitana 11, will be sailing with Yann Guichard, who himself finished 2nd in the Jacques Vabre 2005 on Gitana 11.
Loïck Peyron has opted to share the helm of Gitana Eighty with Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, his long-time stalwart and master sailmaker at Incidences. In 2005, Loïck won the race in this same category as Jean-Pierre Dick's co-skipper. Gitana Eighty has been so-christened in tribute to Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Baron Benjamin de Rothschild's father, who would have turned 80 this year.
The two Gitana Team duos have already completed the qualification course imposed by the transatlantic race's management and are now preparing for the showpiece event of the 2007 season.
Gitana 11: a tried and tested ocean-going boat with exceptional potential!
Aboard Gitana 11, the Lemonchois/Guichard duo has completed its qualification over a 600-mile route which took them as far as Spain, after which the duo were tired but composed. In all configurations, the skippers ran the rule over this machine which they both know like the back of their hands. After an exceptional victory in the 2006 Route du Rhum, Lionel is no longer a feared outsider but a first-time favourite!
Lionel Lemonchois, skipper of Gitana 11: “The conditions were ideal during our qualification. For us, it was also the start of the serious stuff, the first round of the intensive training we'll be going through in the build-up to the race. Yann and I make an efficient rather than a talkative pair, as each word carefully is weighed up when we're sailing together. On the Rhum, when Yann was my onshore tactician, we learned to get straight to the point so as not to waste time, and it's this same modus operandi that prevails onboard Gitana 11. We're perfectly familiar with the engine and our manoeuvres are automatic and fluid. We're highly motivated and we believe in ourselves 100%. That said, the atmosphere on the pontoons at the start will be a world away from Saint-Malo last year… no one really saw me coming, whereas now, I'm well aware they'll all be watching out for me from the word go!”
Gitana Eighty: a brand-new monohull
On Gitana Eighty, the Gitana family's new arrival launched last July, the accent will be on testing out an innovative vessel of which the design has been thought through, right down to the smallest detail, by Loïck Peyron. The skipper will be making his grand return to the helm in the Jacques Vabre, but while Loïck, accompanied by Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, insists his main goal is to validate the boat, the great competitor inside him won't be able to resist going for victory! All the more so as the two men between them have unrivalled experience, the Jacques Vabre 2007 being Loïck Peyron's fortieth transat, while Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant has been sailing on the finest racing yachts for over 25 years.
Loïck Peyron, skipper of Gitana Eighty and general manager of the Gitana Team: “My and Jean-Baptiste's aim is of course to bring Gitana Eighty on together. Little by little, we're discovering all of the boat's potential. We still have a lot of Is to dot and Ts to cross before we can say we're operating at full potential, but we're getting there. Our qualification allowed us to identify the main points that need working on and we were also able to test out our sail set. On a monohull even more than a multihull, the question of sails is crucial and allows no room for uncertainty. So the expertise of Jean-Baptiste, who is one of the top sailmakers in the world, will be a precious asset in terms of improving the boat's reliability. We may be still getting to know her, but we'll be there or thereabouts during the race!”
Transat Jacques Vabre – Le Havre / Salvador de Bahia (Brazil)
8th edition – Doublehanded race over approximately 4,350 miles
Monohull start: 3 November 2007 at 13:00
Multihull start: 4 November 2007 at 13:00
, ORMA trimaran, skippered by Lionel Lemonchois and Yann Guichard
Gitana Eighty, IMOCA monohull, skippered by Loïck Peyron and Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant