A meticulous and intensive preparation
In order to prepare this "Jacques Vabre", the final event in the Multihull season 2003, the Gitana Team is to be found on all fronts to attack the 5 190 mile (9608 km) long course from Le Havre (France) to Salvador de Bahia (Brazil) in the best possible conditions possible, form both a sporting and technical point of view.
Whereas Marc has just completed a two-week long race on the Atlantic, Lionel Lemonchois has continued his intensive physical preparation outdoors, in the gym and the pool, with the obvious additional pleasure of returning to the helm of the yellow and blue trimaran, re-launched on Wednesday 8th October in La Trinité-sur-Mer, after one month in the yard.
Awaiting the return of his alter ego before getting down to some two-handed training from 13th October onwards, Lionel and a small crew have been validating the latest modifications - removal of the "ears", repositioning of the deck gear in the cockpit and a reworked interior navigations station, following a reduction in weight of the onboard computers. New sails will also be tested and undergo stringent fine-tuning.
Further to a second "weight loss programme" reducing the weight of the boat by some 130 kg all in all compared with her configuration in the Challenge Mondial Assistance, during training and validation sessions at sea, the Gitana Team acquires new data for maximum routing efficiency during the Transat Jacques Vabre.
A two-handed transatlantic race
The Jacques Vabre is raced two-handed. Each person on board has his role to play in sailing the boat, bringing his specific know-how to bear. Both Lionel and Marc were quick to find their feet on board Gitana.
Lionel : "I needed to have someone who would take care of "office business" onboard during this Transat. Marc has been doing so perfectly well since the project got underway. He is therefore the right man for the navigator job on board."
Marc : "Roles are shared out, but decisions are made jointly. I'll be concentrating on the weather information and computers. Lionel knows the boat better than I do, what she is capable of and where her limits lie. He will decide sail configuration and manoeuvres."
An objective for the Gitana Team
To sail a fine race, states Lionel, and if we can pull off something smart on the weather front, then to finish well-placed. For this ocean race, I trust the boat and the changes we have made to her over the last few months.
La Transat Jacques Vabre - facts & figures
41 competitors in two separate fleets, divided into four categories : Multihulls (18 including fifteen Open 60-footers) and Monohulls (23 including seven Open 60-footers).
Multihull start : Sunday 2nd November 2003 out of Le Havre (France) - ETA : Salvador de Bahia (Brazil) : 16th November for the multihulls.
Winner of the last edition, Open 60-foot muiltihulls : Groupama.
Reference time : 14 days 9 hours - average speed of 15 knots.