Rain and clear skies hasn’t shaken the public’s enthusiasm and they were out in force again today in the city of Saint Malo to encourage the 86 solo sailors, who will take next Sunday’s start offshore of the Grand Bé, a nearby island where François-René de Chateaubriand, a famous French romantic writer and politician was buried. For now the race start is still not very clear in weather terms, as the skipper of Gitana 11 explained to us: “four days away it’s not easy to know what we’re going to end up with: there’s a front, but will it have rolled over the top of us or will we have to traverse it just after the starting gun? One thing for sure is that we’ll have around 25 to 30 knots of NW to W’ly breeze on exiting the English Channel, with big seas… After that it’s not evident what will happen, but we do know that we won’t have to endure 50 knots on the nose! However, it’s not going to be like it was four years ago either.”
Yann Guichard remains calm in relation to these forecasts as he knows all to well about the problems with thinking too far ahead on courses spanning in excess of 3,500 miles. Instead he’s concentrating on eating well and sleeping without stress. Four years ago the navigator was in position behind his computer analysing the grib files: “I was more used to seeing the race start from my office when I was taking part in the routing… Gitana 11 is well placed in the Bassin Vauban with Côte d’Or in front and the three ‘ultimate’ sisterships behind. There’s a good crowd and a great atmosphere! We have nothing left to do aboard, other than loading my personal effects: the team has done a fantastic job! And I know what they’ll be going through over the coming days. In fact, the most agonising thing will be the start as there will be a lot of people on the water and our boats go very fast. After that it’ll be over to me…”
The next four days will naturally be devoted to weather analysis with Sylvain Mondon and Billy Besson, who will make up Gitana Team’s crew on shore during the race. However, the skipper will also give some time to those close to the project. These include the staff of the Chalet Mont d’Arbois, who play a roll in providing the food supplies, as well as the children of the OPEJ, which Yann Guichard will play host to on Thursday and show them around the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. This Thursday will also be marked by the screening of the film produced by Christophe Castagne – “Gitana Team, from one Rhum to another” – on the preparation of Gitana 11 and about the role of each member of the Team involved in the project: “Sharing this solo adventure with the whole team is a great pleasure: there’s a family spirit which remains the driving force behind the Gitana Team. On Sunday I’ll be on my own on the water, but I won’t really be alone!” concludes Yann Guichard.