A new challenge is added to the Gitana legend
The name Gitana in the Sailing world immediately conjures up the Rothschild Franco-Swiss branch, which for the past 100 years and more, has stood for a life style nurtured by passion, team spirit and the quest for excellence. It all started in 1876, when Benjamin de Rothschild's great grand aunt used the first Gitana to beat a 25m steam boat, a world speed record on Lake Leman in the French/Swiss Alps.
As a young child, Benjamin de Rothschild was introduced to the family tradition by his father. He rapidly turned to the Open 60-footer multihulls which as he is fond of repeating «are the most beautiful sailing machines ever imagined and designed by man». The Gitana trimaran saga, under Benjamin de Rothschild, took off with the Gitana IX (ex-Elf Aquitaine III) which participated in the Québec – Saint Malo 2000 transat, continued with the conception and birth of the Gitana X, inaugurated in June 2002 and continues in 2004 with the advent of Gitana XI, ex-Belgacom, into the Team. One of the most powerful trimarans of the circuit, the Gitana XI took to the waves in 2001.
As a firm believer in the notions of technological exploration and performance, Benjamin de Rothschild intends to let both Gitana X and Gitana XI compete in the 2004 race. First, just like Lionel Lemonchois, he feels that the tuning of « X » must continue in order to complete the innovative approach which was instrumental to its birth. Secondly, the Gitana Team has been enriched with one of the most technologically advanced trimarans of the circuit, the now Gitana XI.
A team with the “power of 2”
By putting up two boats to race in the same Championship, Benjamin de Rothschild has demonstrated his commitment to top-level competition sailing and has joined in the collective memory of this sport, the only two examples of the « Power of 2 » teams which the international ocean race has ever known, EF and Amer Sports, in the Volvo Ocean Race.
The 2004 Gitana Team now comprises two 60-footer trimarans, Gitana XI, under the care of the Norman skipper Lionel Lemonchois, and Gitana X under Breton skipper Marc Guillemot, who used to be skipper for La Trinitaine trimaran for 7 years. The two men will be responsible for the technical and sports programmes of each of the boats entrusted to their care. Yann Marilley will coordinate the entire Gitana Team operation now comprising nearly 30 people who will be responsible on land and at sea, for keeping the Team's overall performance in the line of sight. The famous « One for all and all for one» applied to high tech sports.
A common style and diversified backgrounds for a common cause
One of the strengths of the Gitana Team is a common style shared by all its members, based on competence, discretion and a keen sense of humour. The other is the diversity of backgrounds. In addition to Lionel Lemonchois and Marc Guillemot - two yachtsmen who have accumulated a unique maritime and technical experience in the past 25 years - the two crew lists feature such « ocean-racers» as Olivier Wroczynski, François Denis, Nicolas Raynaud, Jean-Baptiste Epron, Dominic Bourgeois and Yvon Daniel; pure regatta competitors like Yann Guichard and Frédéric Le Peutrec; pillars of the French Olympic sailing team; Frederic Brousse, a rugby player; some talented and motivated young people; and finally others with the two fold ocean sailing and regatta culture like Marc Guessard, Yann Marilley, and of course… Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, admittedly owner of the two Gitana X and XI, but especially full-fledged member of the Gitana Team since its creation in 2000.