The most important activity is of course building the new mast. As previously announced, the Gitana Team had waited for the general meeting of the ORMA 60-foot multihull class held on 3rd January earlier this year, to see how the rules might develop, following the events in the Route du Rhum. From now on, masts (and the boats structures and appendages), can no longer be made of very high density carbon fibre (M55J). Their high cost, uncertainty of supply and the difficulty in knowing quite how best to work these ultra stiff fibres on these boats, has lead class members to turn to a more tolerant and less costly fibre, the M46 J. The decision shall apply to the whole of the fleet as from 1st January 2004. As Gitana has to build a new mast this year (having broken her mast in the Route du Rhum), it is being made in this fibre by Lorima. Delivery is scheduled for the end of March 2003. The spar remains monolithic and of narrow chord at 60 cm wide. It will never the less be a little bit heavier than the previous one, but all are hoping that it will be more reliable.
Another big job on hand for Gitana concerning the class rules, the making of a new daggerboard and casing. Multiplast, the yard where the trimaran was built, will be carrying out the work at Gitana's technical base, the Multipole 56 in La Trinité-sur-Mer (on France's Atlantic coast). At the same time, a new rudder fort eh central hull will be made, and its profile changed. Hugues de Turckeim, who recently joined the Gitana Team, is in charge of this work on the appendages. He is also to take care of developing the mulithull's foils (skates).
As for the sails, a new main sail is in the process of being made, designed with the Grand Prix in mind, in other words for short regattas just off the coast. A new, more powerful genoa jib (Solent) will also be made by Europ Sail under the aegis of its representative Nicolas Berthoud, alias "Canard" (Dick), a member of the Gitana Team.
Gitana's 2003 programme is now set. It centres upon 4 Grand Prix and two ocean races, including the Transat Jacques Vabre between Le Havre (Manche) and Salvador de Bahia (Brasil). Lionel Lemonchois, Gitana's skipper : "For this two-handed race, I have put a name forward and am waiting for his reply. It will soon be official and we will make an announcement as soon as possible. For the moment, a Team six-strong is working on the boat and the transformations. From the end of January, we will be starting out on 7 weeks of work with the Multiplast team to make the changes to the daggerboard".
2003 World 60-foot Multihull Championship* Programme
|25/27 April||Lorient ORMA Grand Prix (F) / Crewed|
|11 May||Challenge Mondial Assistance, Cherbourg (F) / Rimini (Italy) / Crewed|
|13/15 June||Cagliari ORMA Grand Prix (It) / Crewed|
|4/6 July||Marseilles ORMA Grand Prix (F) / Crewed|
|September||Fécamp ORMA Grand Prix (F) / Crewed|
|1/2 November||Transat Jacques Vabre start, Le Havre (F) / Salvador de Bahia (Bra) / Two handed|
* Counting towards the Fico Lacoste Skippers and Sponsors World Championship