It seems pretty clear now that Gitana's lack of speed is essentially due to her displacement, much greater than the other multihulls on the ORMA 2003 circuit. A two-stage weight loss programme was therefore been planned in the beginning of July to optmise the boat.
The first part of this programme was completed prior to the Grand Prix de Fécamp. The next stage will get underway shortly afterwards, with the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre in mind, a race which starts off Le Havre on 2nd November.
Fired up with the perspective of further improvements, the crew approached the last Grand Prix of the season with a fresh dose of confidence. Unfortunately, right from the word go, at the training session on Thursday morning, Gitana tore her mainsail during a gybe. No choice for the Gitana Team but to face up to her opponentts with the mainsail used for delivery passages on the difficult waters off Fécamp.
Gitana therefore ranks 8th out of 11 boats entered in the last Grand Prix of the season. Three boats withdrew due to gear failure - Foncia and Belgacom called it day on Friday due to mast problems and Bayer after having been run into by another competitor at the start of Saturday's inshore course.
The final analysis of this event never the less remains positive. In spite of the boat's lack of speed, he crew remains motivated, nd, if proof were needed, this was demonstrated by their aggressiveness on the starting lines. As for Lionel Lemonchois and Marc Guessard who will be sailing Gitana together in the Transat Jacques Vabre, they have continued to acquire new data to assist them in getting the best out of this complex machine, which is rather tricky to perfect.
That said, during the qualifying passage undertaken in tough conditions in part, Gitana has proved that she is a healthy boat. Lionel Lemonchois : « in 25/30 knots downwind, and rough seas in the Bay of Biscay, we made an average speed of almost 25 knots over an 8 hour period in excellent conditions of reliability and manoeuvrability. Gitana doesn't nose dive because she has banana-shaped floats. I'm confident... ». Further in a two-handed race, « ...a speed and course-holding handicap is much less detrimental than in a Grand Prix event... », affirm Lionel and Marc in unison.
A new set of sails specially designed for this event should make it posible for them to come clsoer to the level of the other competitors in the ORMA 60-foot multihull circuit. Gitana still has to go through the second four-week stage of her weight-loss programme at the start of next week in the boat's base at the Multipole 56 in La Trinité sur Mer.
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