It was at exactly 1526 hours UT, beneath a blazing sunshine, that the new Gitana 11 hit the water. A touching “renaissance” as much for the members of the Gitana Team as for the scores of spectators, impressed by the new proportions of the oceanic multihull.
77 feet (23.50 metres) compared with 60 feet just a few months ago… However, the change doesn’t lay solely in this rather significant extension. Indeed the Gitana 11 concept has been totally rethought with a view to participating in the Route du Rhum 2010. Equipped with brand new floats comprising inverted bows, an extended central hull and a new livery on a par with these modifications, she is now a multihull which is entirely dedicated to solo sailing, as the recent deck fittings bear witness (protective pods for the helming stations on each side of the cockpit).
Just a few metres from the boat, helping to manage the delicate manœuvres alongside William Fabulet, the new skipper of Gitana 11 gives us his first impressions: “It’s a big day for the Gitana Team and to see Gitana 11 in the water is massively satisfying. The boat is elegant and her new lines really suit her. We were very much looking forward to the moment she hit the water as that’s when you get a first impression of her. Up until that point, even though the studies were in-depth, it was all simply virtual. Today, it’s something concrete: the boat is in the water and after a few tests alongside the pontoon tomorrow to check the structural solidity of the platform and mast, we’ll be able to perform our first tacks on her. All this would not have been possible without the unfailing support of Baron and Baroness de Rothschild as well as the LCF Rothschild Group. We take great pride in sporting their colours” says Yann Guichard.
Retaining her original name as a mark of respect for the history and the number of miles already covered, this new maxi-trimaran is likely to head out to sea for the first time during the course of the week. Yann Guichard will then carry out a series of sail trials, the first of which will be in crewed configuration. This will enable the choices to be validated and the boat to be made reliable, before the skipper sets off on his own to discover the latest creation from the Gitana lineage.
Gitana 11: the history and the numbers
Built in 2001, under the name of Belgacom, this 60 foot trimaran joined the Gitana stable in 2004, where she became Gitana 11. Successively helmed by Frédéric le Peutrec and Lionel Lemonchois, this multihull won great acclaim in November 2006 when the latter skipper drove her to victory in the legendary Route du Rhum 2006. After a two year transition and following the publication of the notice of race for the Route du Rhum 2010 – which is opening the event to G Class maxis – the decision was taken to modify Gitana 11 to remain competitive in relation to her more sizeable adversaries. The basic premise is as follows: “The aim has been to make up our deficit in relation to the large oceanic trimarans in muscly conditions, whilst retaining the characteristics of our boat in light conditions thanks to its power/weight ratio. We’ve sought to make gains in versatility”.
The three major structural modifications during this refit comprise:
- A change in the existing floats and construction of replacements in New Zealand
- Extension of the central hull
- Development of the deck layout and optimisation of the platform with a view to solo sailing
Gitana 11, version 2009
LOA 23.51 (77’)
Beam 18.31 m
Air draft 30.40 m
Water draft 5 m
Weight 7 tonnes
Mainsail 190 m2
Solent 120 m2
Gennaker 260 m2