Perhaps the little black cloud has been blown away ? This is the first major ocean race completed by the blue and white trimaran since her launch, a transatlantic race more than 4000 miles long, which she sailed without any major hitch. Proof of good preparation and that she is a reliable boat. Also proof of the skill of those who sailed her, Lionel Lemonchois and Marc Guessard.
The team worked a treat. Gitana even lay 6th for a number of hours two days before the finish, giving a spot of grief to the formidable Sodebo and Banque Populaire, not forgetting Foncia, Bonduelle and Sopra Group driven by leading figures on the circuit.
You will recall that on the 8th day of the race, Gitana took the record for the greatest distance covered in 24 hours, making 551 miles (1020 km) at an average boat speed of 23 knots, the first reference for this alternative trimaran. She has demonstrated that in a blow downwind, she is capable of a good performance.
A job well done
Both skippers beamed a broad smile as they entered Salvador da Bahia in the middle the night. Firstly, they are happy to finish the race and secondly happy with their 8th place. They were overtaken by two competitors in the last 36 hours of the race (Sodebo and Banque Populaire), faster multihulls than Gitana in a trade wind which weakened towards the end of the course. Lionel Lemonchois : " It was time to get here... Foncia is just behind us. She gained 30 miles (55 km) during the day. We had no wind over the last 24 hours. We never stopped changing from the gennaker to the Solent because of the never-ending wind changes (from wind angles of 140° to 120° for those in the know, from 5 to 15 knots)." Marc Guessard confirmed what his colleague said : " We had a problem with our central rudder and couldn't push it towards the end. That didn't help us any. As soon as the wind was too strong, we had to lighten up. But it was time we got in, as Foncia and Sopra Group are just a few minutes astern. Back in Le Havre, we'd never have thought for a moment that we would end up in such a fine way !".
There is no doubt that the fact they had wind almost the whole time and having got through the Doldrums pretty sharpish, were major factors contributing to Gitana's result in this transatlantic race. Skippers Lionel and Marc remain lucid about it all. The early part of the race was not that brilliant. Lionel : "We weren't that good until Madeira. It was even pretty tough going in fact. We ought to have paid more attention to the indications given by our router Sylvain Mondon from Météo France, when you see the maestria with which he pulled us out of Porto Santo and through the Doldrums !". Marc Guessard : "I was ill for the first couple of days after the start, which didn't make me work that cleverly."
Mission accomplished for Marc and Lionel whose aim was to complete the course and sail a good race. Lionel now has the occasion to get to know Brazil a little, a country he has often sailed along without ever having made landfall.
"The going was tough as far as Porto Santo. We shed the foul weather gear a day before arriving in Madeira. Once we got underway again from Porto Santo, things started looking up thanks to our router Sylvain Mondon. We also came very nicely through the Doldrums without ever stopping... A fine race, but what a talented guy Franck Cammas is !"
"I enjoyed this race immensely. A good pace, intense racing from start to finish. Until this morning, it was basically a full sprint. You never let up - it's brilliant – and once your feet hit the pontoon, you say, damn, it's already over ! I'd have been quite happy to keep going a bit longer. What fantastic boats..."
Facts and figures
Distance covered all in all
4 340.3 miles (8 038 km)
Gitana's race time
11 days 19 hours 50 minutes and 45 seconds, at an average theoretical boat speed of 15.29 knots (km/h) over the course.
Gitana therefore took 20 hours 40 minutes and 04 seconds more than Groupama, winner of the 2003 edition of this race.
60-foot multihull rankings
1. Groupama (10 days 23 hours 10 minutes and 41 seconds)
2. Belgacom (11 days 00 hours 22 minutes and 42 seconds)
3. Sergio Tacchini (11 days 03 hours 20 minutes and 28 seconds)
4. Géant (11 days 06 hours 27 minutes and 31 seconds)
5. Biscuits La Trinitaine (11 days 08 hours 11 minutes and 55 seconds)
6. Banque Populaire (11 days 09 hours 27 minutes and 44 seconds)
7. Sodebo (11 days 11 hours 20 minutes and 15 seconds)
8. Gitana (11 days 19 hours 50 minutes and 45 seconds)