A successful “race against the clock”
Although the Gitana Team has two boats, two skippers and two distinctly separate sailing teams, there is just one single technical team for both multihulls. Jean Pierre Trottet and Léo Lucet work on the fittings and hydraulics, Laurent Bourgues, Pierre Le Diberder are in the composites department along with Jean Charles Godard. Young and enthusiastic, they work out of the spotlight in preparing these Formula 1 racing machines. Part of the success in a racing season rests on their shoulders. Gitana XI's nets were fitted by Jean Yves Le Govic (Napo), an expert in the area and in charge of logistics for Gitana XI. Only the on-board computers, electronics and rigging/lines have been placed in the hands of three sailing members of the team, respectively Olivier Wroczynski (Zolive), Christophe Lassègue, and François Denis (Bambino).
« With today's launch of the « XI » and of the « X » in a couple of weeks, Gitana Team's shore team has just pulled off some pretty amazing feat, emphasises Yann Marilley, Team Manager of the Gitana Team. In under three months, we will have launched two boats which will be perfectly prepared for the 2004 season. In this race against the clock, the twelve people who comprise the Team have worked on both boats to adhere to our strict schedule. A remarkable effort given that the boats were located in two different sites, Gitana X on our base in La Trinité sur Mer (Morbihan) and Gitana XI, 100 kilometres away, at the CDK yard in Port-la-Forêt (Finistère). »
Wide-ranging revisions, paint, structural modifications, new appendages
The major modifications carried out on both boats concern mainly the structure and the appendages in the case of Gitana X, and on the paintwork, appendages and the mast in the case of Gitana XI. For 2004, the « X » has been fitted with a new winged foil section on the central rudder, a system used on the trimaran Géant, and new curved foils. The companionway leading to the navigation station has also been modified on the « X » at the request of skipper Marc Guillemot, in order to increase the living space inside the central hull and stowage space for the sails. The « XI » was totally stripped and has been completely repainted to sport the colours of her new owner and shall sail this year with fittings which have been either completely revised or changed, new curved foils, a new mast, new sails and a deck layout which has been modified by skipper Lionel Lemonchois.
* Foils : blade sections under the floats providing lift. Current trend is towards curved sections to reduce the tendency to drift and reduce clutter.
Mission accomplished for the XI
CDK Technologies was not chosen by chance for the preparation of Gitana XI. This yard specialises in composite materials and presided over the construction of the boat in 2001 born under the name of Belgacom, acquired in December 2003 by the Baron Benjamin de Rothschild and placed in the hands of Norman skipper Lionel Lemonchois for 2004. « Three major tasks were accomplished on Gitana XI on a hull which was completely stripped down both inside and out,” explained boat captain Jean Le Houérou Kérisel, formerly of Team Belgacom, a man who knows the Van Peteghem-Lauriot-Prévost design inside out. “The first task to be carried out by our technical team involved disassembling, revising and reassembling all of the boat's equipment once a complete paint job had been done, equipment including hydraulics, fittings engine and electronics. The two other tasks were the new paint job in the Rothschild family colours and work on the structure to incorporate new foils, work which was contracted out to CDK. More than 3 000 hours of labour went into getting the job done – an ungracious and arduous job if ever there was one – involving pure « elbow grease » in a near permanent cloud of dust and toxic fumes. » Paintwork and composite are often incompatible and so CDK and the Gitana Team had to do a fair bit of closely calculated juggling to finish on time. After having re-stepped the mast, on Wednesday and Thursday, Gitana XI will be sailing back to her home port of La Trinité sur Mer on Thursday.
Two more weeks in the yard for Gitana X
As fifteen or so men were busy in Port-la-Forêt around Gitana XI, in La Trinité sur Mer, Gitana X was undergoing three major modifications under the attentive eyes of Marc Guillemot and the boat captain, Olivier Wroczynski, one of the pillars of the technical and sailing team on the « X » boat since 2002. The work done on Gitana XI was important, that carried out on Gitana X was also ambitious, requiring close on 2 500 man hours occupying a team of five full time. Olivier explains : « We are still in the full throes of optimizing the boat, and we are hoping that the three months we have just spent working on her will bring about important changes in the way she behaves generally. The changes to the companionway which Marc asked for, the fitting of lips to the daggerboard casing, the addition of new curved foils and a winged central rudder should make her more stable and easier to handle. » Gitana X is to be put back into the water at the end of March, beginning of April and both crews should be in Port-la-Forêt at the same time, where the first joint training session with other multihulls entered in the Orma circuit 2004 is to be held from 5th to 8th April.
A happy event in the Gitana Team
On March 5th at the maternity unit in Vannes hospital, the wife of Pierre Le Diberder gave birth to a son by the name of Milo, a fine way to celebrate the launch of Gitana XI. Pierre Le Diberder is a composite specialist who recently joined the technical department of the Gitana Team. Pierre is currently working on the « X » and lives in Baden with Soizic, a couple of miles from La Trinité.