Gitana 11, launch D-7
Despite the discretion which surrounds the transformation of Gitana 11, things are progressing well in the boatsheds of Baron Benjamin de Rothschild’s stable based in Saint-Philibert. Since the arrival of the first pieces of the “jigsaw” midway through June, the pace has picked up and all the members of the Gitana Team are now ready to knuckle down and complete the last stretch of work. With a week to go until the launch of the new maxi-trimaran, specially reconfigured for the Route du Rhum 2010, the excitement is tangible. We look back at the chronology of what has been a studious summer…

June: the first piece of the jigsaw in the boatsheds of La Trinité sur Mer
The first float constructed in New Zealand and repatriated in France via cargo ship, arrives at the Gitana Team workshop after being unloaded in Le Havre and transported via road. It’s a very important arrival for the yard’s main-springs: the hour for the start of assembly strikes. Positioning and grafting will ensue for nearly three weeks.
During this time, the large new additions to the platform take shape. Indeed it is impossible not to notice the pods which are now positioned on either side of the cockpit. This protection, which took up a good number of hours of study and then implementation for the men of Gitana Team, will accomodate the trimaran’s future helming stations in a few weeks time. The future skipper, Yann Guichard, commented on this innovation: “Gitana 11 has been transformed with the principle aim of competing in the next Route du Rhum. This predominantly solo configuration led us to rethink a large part of the cockpit to satisfy the requirements of the single-handed sailor.” In this way the off-centre helming stations level with the aft beams are out!

July: Second arrival
Taking exactly the same route as its twin piece, the second float arrives in Saint Philibert on 2nd July. As such it’s a similar operation that has to be repeated to balance out the maxi-trimaran. In turn, a few days later, the bow of the freshly received central hull takes up position. The positioning and adjustment of this new piece measuring nearly 7 metres is a delicate and meticulous element of the structural work.
At the end of July, a few days of well deserved holidays momentarily interrupt the refit. Solely the team artist will put in a few additional hours alongside Gitana 11: Hubert Corfmat, who has made every effort to apply himself to producing the new decoration designed by Jean-Baptiste Epron throughout the refit, will benefit from an entirely empty workshop to put the final touches to his work. The colours which adorn the winning trimaran from the Route du Rhum 2006 are faithful to the pure, elegant lines which have characterised the Gitana yachts for the past hundred years or so.

As such, little by little, day by day, Gitana 11 is beginning to flaunt her new dimensions, that of a former 60 foot trimaran now able to boast a waterline length extending over 77 foot. Indeed she has gone from her original 18 metres to 23 metres!

Mid August: the final home straight for the Gitana Team
From 17th August, the whole of the workforce is back, ready to attack the final home straight; a job which certainly isn’t to be sniffed at. Though the whole of the structural part of the boat is complete, the platform is entirely stripped as it awaits all the essential equipment for it to operation smoothly. On the programme: reassembly of the deck hardware (winches, cleats, blocks…), completion of the electronic and computing installation, followed by tests to validate the new systems. As regards ropework, the halyards, sheets and warps have been prepared beforehand and are currently back in their original position. Finally, we shouldn’t forget the positioning of the trampolines which is a really long, painstaking job with many hands required to constantly retension the 155 m2 of rope which is indispensible in enabling sailors to move around the boat.

In a week’s time, the Gitana Team shed will open its doors to reveal the new lines of the maxi-trimaran Gitana 11. The long months being refitted will then quickly become a thing of the past and one of the finest pages in her young history will begin: the first sessions under sail and of course Yann Guichard’s first solo tacks at the helm of this new steed.

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