The crew continues its apprenticeship of the platform. The 9 rounds raced in the southern roads of Marseille on a superb course and in exceptional conditions - 10 to 25 knots of wind and brilliant sunshine - enabled the crew to put its fighting spirit to the test. An encouraging note in the last round where the team finished 7th. Most of all, this weekend's event enabled important decisions concerning the evolution of the boat to be validated.
After three Grand Prix and several days of the Challenge Mondial Assistance (Cherbourg/F - Rimini/Ita), this year, a certain number of interventions absolutely have to be carried out to improve Gitana's performance. After a brief pitstop in La Ciotat, the boat's Mediterranean technical base, Gitana will be heading for Brittany where she will be hauled out at the Multiplast where she was built. Gitana should arrive in Vannes around 21st/22nd July where she will be staying for three weeks before being put back into the water in time for the Grand Prix de Fécamp (28th to 30th August).
During this short stop, the main things to be worked on will be the modification of the gennaker's adjustment points, the gennaker being a balloon jib used for downwind sailing. The long poles (outriggers) set aft of the cockpit are going to be dismounted. Although this option meant that bigger gennakers could be carried, it has not turned out be efficient. This change will also represent a noticeable saving in weight. As for the dagger boards, the pivoting system is going to be improved upon, a minor incident in Marseille having meant withdrawing in one round. Lastly, the submerged part of the hull is going to be repainted - a coat of anti-fouling applied - to improve how well she slides through the water.
After the Grand Prix de Fécamp, she will be hauled out once again. Her headsail adjustment points are going to be changed, (for the purists, they are going to be brought further inwards). This operation will involve fitting new reinforcements onto the central hull to withstand major tension loads - which means moving the winches inside the cockpit. The "ears" they were fixed onto until now are going to be removed. All of this will enable a few more kilos to be saved, which is always a good thing.
To reduce drag, a new lifting rudder is going to be fitted to the central hull. Finally, the possibility of changing the foils (skates) is on the agenda as the change to the angle of incidence of the current foils is not entirely satisfactory. Not forgetting that Gitana is going to have a new mainsail and a new Solent jib for offshore sailing, with the Transat Jacques Vabre race which is run two-handed.
Marc Guessard, Gitana's navigator will ebsharing the cockpit of the trimaran for the showcase event of the 2003 season, the two-handed transatlantic race from Le Havre (F) and Salvador de Bahia (Brazil) which is to start on 2nd November. Marc Guessard : "...it's an extraordinary chance to be able to race two-handed on a machine like Gitana, what's more with Lionel Lemonchois who is a great sailor. He has amazing faculties to anticipate what lies ahead. I'm going to have to prepare myself seriously to be up to scratch physically and psychologically. Perhaps I'll take part in the two-handed race from Saint-Nazaire to Dakar on 'Figaro' in September. A good training session ...".
For now, Marc is going to sail Gitana from the Mediterranean up to the Atlantic along with Lionel. There's no way around this voyage and it will serve as the qualifying sail which both sailors need to have for the transatlantic race. They have to sail at least 1,000 miles (1,852 km) in race conditions.
Grand Prix de Marseille. Provisional rankings
1/ Groupama, 2/ Belgacom, 3/ Géant, 4/ Sergio Tacchini, 5/ Sodebo, 6/ Bayer, 7/ Banque Populaire, 8/ Tim, 9/ Banque Covefi, 10/ Bonduelle, 11/ Sopra Goup, 12/ Gitana
ORMA World Championship (at the end of 4 competitions). Provisional Rankings
1/ Groupama, 2/ Géant, 3/ Banque Populaire, 4/ Sodebo, 5/ Sergio Tacchini, 6/ Banque Covefi, 7/ Belgacom, 8/ Gitana, 9/ Foncia, 10/ Bayer, 11/ Sopra Group (Did Not Qualify Bonduelle and Tim)