The dismasting of Gitana 12 on the eve of the Trophée du Conseil Général des Alpes Maritimes totally disrupted the programme of Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and his crew. They were only able to train for one day before the Grand Prix de Marseille and the almost windless conditions experienced in Portugal show that the white trimaran is not really comfortable at close quarters in terms of course holding and acceleration in less than five knots of wind. While the crew are yet to fully discover the boat's subtleties, it is nonetheless undeniable that Gitana 12 can compete more effectively with the fleet in a more vigorous breeze. The Grand Prix du Port de Fécamp, contested in September and usually quite windy, should confirm these first impressions. It is worth remembering that the ex-Bonduelle was completely overhauled this winter and that her relaunch only took place two weeks before the London-Nice race.
For Gitana 11 too, the change of central hull amounted to a massive job and the crew had to recover their reflexes gradually. The Grand Prix de Trapani, extremely windy at over twenty knots and with a very rough sea, still brought victory in one round for the crew. During the Marseilles meeting, the breeze was decidedly less sustained and on flat seas, Gitana 11 had a superb coastal course, staying hot on the heels of Géant right to the finish and overtaking Groupama 2 under gennaker. It didn't take Loick Peyron long to re-familiarise himself with the trimaran, and Portugal saw 11 clinch five second-place finishes behind Franck Cammas' untouchable machine in the six rounds contested. In what were tricky sailing conditions marked by erratic winds, the crew of Gitana 11 frequently managed to come back strongly from difficult situations courtesy of a few tactical masterstrokes and some superb manoeuvring. In this respect also, the Grand Prix du Port de Fécamp will offer a chance to confirm the boat's potential in the breeze.
As regards the rankings for the Cafe Ambassador Multi Cup Championship, the pecking order has been firmly established even before the first round of the last Grand Prix in Normandy (8-10 September), but the Gitana Team will be intent on realising its potential and challenging the supremacy of the last born of the Orma trimarans.
For the Grand Prix de Marseille, Gitana also announced the redeployment of Loick Peyron, the team's sporting director, to the helm of Gitana 11, with Frédéric Le Peutrec becoming onboard tactician. However, by mutual agreement with the team's management, Frédéric Le Peutrec opted to leave the Gitana fold after two years in control of Gitana 11 in order to be able to devote himself fully to his search for a new project. Every member of the Gitana Team wishes him a great deal of success in his future initiatives.
Frédéric Le Peutrec: “It wasn't an easy decision to take but I felt I had no choice after the Grand Prix de Marseille. This last two years with the Gitana Team have been extremely beneficial. I've learned a great deal and I'd like to thank Benjamin de Rothschild for offering me the chance to have this great experience. But at the start of the 2006 season, the decision was taken to remove me from the helm of Gitana 11 and although I was offered the opportunity to stay with the team as tactician, I soon realised that would not bring me fulfilment. For this reason, we mutually decided that I would leave the Gitana Team. The early season results were not up to scratch in 2006 and, harsh though it may be, I understand that the team's objectives are paramount. I'm disappointed to be going, but this experience will stand me in good stead as I try to move forward and get my teeth into a new project, something which I just couldn't see happening if I stayed with Gitana 11. Yann Guichard, whom I sailed with a lot in Tornado and deeply respect as a person and a friend, has joined the team at Portimao. He's going to take charge of onboard tactics, which has got to be a good thing. He knows Gitana 11 well, as we finished second together in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2005… I think that's the best option, and I hope to be back out on the water competing with the new team of 11 before too long.”
Cafe Ambassador Multi Cup Championship Rankings
After the London-Alpes Maritimes race (coefficient 2), the Trophée du Conseil Général des Alpes Maritimes (coefficient 0.5), the Trapani Grand Prix (coefficient 1), the Grand Prix de Marseilles (coefficient 1) and the Portugal Grand Prix -Portimao:
1-Groupama 2 (1st+1st+1st+1st+1st) 27.5 points
2-Géant (3rd+2nd+2nd+2nd+3rd) 19 points
3-Gitana 11 (4th+3rd+3rd+3rd+2nd) 15.5 points
4-Banque Populaire IV (2nd+4th+DNC+DNC+DNC) 12 points
5-Gitana 12 (5th+5th+DNC+4th+4th) 7.5 points
Gitana 11 crew at Portimao:
Loick Peyron (skipper/helmsman), Lionel Lemonchois (navigator), Yann Guichard (tactician), Daniel Souben (trimmer), Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant (trimmer), Jean-Baptiste Epron (trimmer), Ronan Le Goff (wincher), Christophe Lassègue (bowman No. 1), François Denis (Bowman No.2), Antoine Mermod (piano), Alexandre Quiblier (wincher)
Gitana 12 crew at Portimao:
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent (skipper-helmsman), Baron Benjamin de Rothschild (performer), Erwan Le Roux (tactician), Mayeul Riffet (navigator), Alexandre Marmorat (trimmer), Mathieu Tatibouet (trimmer), Arnaud Derrendinger (trimmer), Antoine Carpentier (piano), Yann Le Govic (trimmer), Léopold Lucet (Bowman No.1), Fabrice Blondel (wincher)