A month on from their victory in the Route des Princes, just the right amount of time for a refit for the most recent of the Gitana fleet, Sébastien Josse and his crew are back in action. And it’s now with a trimaran configured for the Transat Jacques Vabre that the men of Gitana Team will head offshore to Cowes, England: “Following on from the Route des Princes and the start of the season, the team has carried out a general review of the boat: deck hardware, rigging, hydraulics and mechanics… However, this summer refit has also been devoted to modifications approved by the owners of the MOD for the Transat Jacques Vabre and the double-handed racing that awaits us. The main focus was the addition of a 350-litre ballast tank in the boat’s aft section. This modification is primarily a safety feature to delay the trimarans from burying their bows. In November, it’s possible that we’ll encounter some muscly wind and sea conditions, particularly in the Bay of Biscay, and in contrast to the boat’s normal load, there will be four fewer crewmen and the equivalent reduction in weight. We’ve also installed a system enabling the control of the mainsail hook to be led back to the cockpit as well as adding some sheet deflectors so that the latter reach as far as the helming stations and allow us to ease the headsails from this position, Sébastien Josse explained.
Rolex Fastnet Race: in double-handed, qualification mode
With three months to go until the major Transat Jacques Vabre meeting, the countdown is on for the men of Gitana Team and with it the second part of the season opens with the focus on double-handed sailing: “After two years in crewed configuration on the MODs we’re familiar with the boats but racing double-handed is unknown territory. We’re tackling this new stage very calmly. We’re going to take things gently to start with, before raising our game to ensure we’re at the height of our potential for early November. Over the winter both of us sailed together, though there was no pressure on our shoulders then. It’s high time we got into the thick of things now. The difficulty of sailing double-handed on these boats relates to accurately pinpointing the right trim so that the boat makes a high average speed, that isn’t too extreme with regard what the two of us can handle over the long term.”
That’s why Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier have decided that the famous Rolex Fastnet Race will be the perfect full-scale test. In this way, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild will set sail for Cowes double-handed on Sunday 11 August. The duo will benefit from the 600-mile route between Cowes and Plymouth, via the Fastnet, to complete the qualifier required by the organisers of the Transat between Le Havre and Itajaï. “The start of the Transat Jacques Vabre is approaching very fast! Every hour in double-handed configuration counts and the Rolex Fastnet Race seemed to us to be an excellent exercise. Oman Air, which is the only other MOD, which will participate in the race, won’t be sailed double-handed. Despite all that, it’s always more interesting and constructive to vie against other craft rather than practising on your own. We’ll be at a real race start, with precise timing, and in a racing environment that favours our capacity to hunt down our limits. The race format lends itself perfectly to that with its 600-mile course. We’re expecting something physical, kicking off with the negotiation of the Solent double-handed. We’re sure to have to link together a series of tack changes in this narrow sound marked by currents and we’ll have to be at our very best right from the start. We won’t be able to sail this boat as we normally do in crewed configuration and we’ll certainly be compelled to sail under-canvassed. However things pan out, it’s sure to be very enriching and it’ll be an important added bonus in our preparation and when we’re vying with our rivals,” revealed the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild. “In this race our primary aim is to qualify and continue our apprenticeship on the craft in double-handed configuration. In fact it will be very educational to have Oman Air racing in crewed configuration as it will enable us to compare the intensity between crewed and double-handed racing.”
However, three days prior to setting sail for the legendary Fastnet Rock, on the southern tip of Ireland, the skipper of Gitana Team will participate in the Artemis Challenge, which is none other than the Round the Island Race. This event, organised during Cowes Week, will comprise the final crewed race of the season and will enable Baron Benjamin de Rothschild’s stable to highlight the Joves Navegants Foundation: “The Artemis Challenge is a race I’ve already taken part in aboard a monohull and the spirit that reigns over there is really something. We’re there to champion a good cause, that of Joves Navegants. Some youngsters from the foundation have already come sailing with us in Lorient and we’re very proud to defend their colours. Weather permitting, we may be able to hunt down the record set by Michel Desjoyeaux last year, but that would be just an added bonus. The real aim doesn’t relate to the clock,” Sébastien Josse confirmed.
The Joves Navegants Foundation
The family of Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has always had a passion for nautical activities, a commitment embodied today by the Gitana Team. As such the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations have quite naturally been sensitive to the mission of Joves Navegants and touched by the profound collective commitment to helping these young people in precarious situations.
Inspired by the methods of British Sailing associations, which help young people in difficulty, some enthusiastic sailors who have settled in Palma, Mallorca, decided to create Joves Navegants. Aware of the complicated situation for certain youngsters on the island in serious economic and family difficulties, they have chosen to share their passion. The foundation organises several types of trips out to sea on the yacht, Galaxie. These days out involve journeys of discovery, awareness campaigns for sustainable development, participation in races and training aids to enable certain youngsters to envisage sailing as a professional career.
Artemis Challenge, aboard Gitana 11
8 August – start at 0900 GMT
Round the Island Race, 50-mile course
Time to beat: 2 hours 21 minutes 25 seconds held by M. Desjoyeaux on the MOD Foncia
The crew on Edmond de Rothschild: Sébastien Josse (skipper) / Charles Caudrelier / Olivier Douillard / Florent Chastel / Antoine Koch / Cyril Dardashti / David Boileau / Sébastien Col
Rolex Fastnet Race, aboard the MOD Edmond de Rothschild (Gitana XV)
Start on 11 August
Cowes – Fastnet Rock – Plymouth, 610-mile course
The crew of Edmond de Rothschild: Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier