Gitana 11 back for a refit
On 16th April 2010, whilst Yann Guichard was carrying out a solo training session offshore, the maxi-trimaran Gitana 11 suffered float damage. To avoid taking any unnecessary risk and given the blustery conditions reigning over the zone at the time, it was decided that a pit stop would be necessary in Dingle (Ireland) – the port closest to where the incident happened – to effect temporary repairs and make it back to Gitana Team’s technical base as quickly as possible. Returning to La Trinité-sur-Mer on Monday 26th April, the most recent of the Gitana fleet has since been lifted back into one of the base’s sheds in nearby Saint-Philibert for a refit and further consolidation as a precautionary measure. The team will also benefit from this time on the hard to look ahead to the running maintenance, which was initially scheduled to take place during the summer.
After a pit stop in Dingle, Yann Guichard was able to head back out to sea again and set a course, single-handed, for Gitana 11’s port of registry. The minute the 77 foot maxi-trimaran was tied up at the Loic Caradec jetty in La Trinité-sur-Mer, the shore crew, led by William Fabulet, organised for her to be lifted out onto the hard. “Our 2010 programme of fine tuning and sailing was designed so that Gitana 11 could be back in the water early in the season. Our aim was to focus on testing the platform in some varied wind conditions, which is an element that wasn’t entirely completed in the autumn of 2009 due to the lack of opportunities in the weather. However, the conditions encountered in mid-April, during my solo trip, were particularly trying for the boat, especially as regards the short, cross seas” explained Yann Guichard before going on to specify the issues involved: “At that point, Gitana 11’s new floats showed signs of weakness around the forward beam. These observations have prompted us to reinforce this zone.”
Right now, discussions are underway between the project’s various technical contributors, namely Gitana Team’s design office, the VPLP naval architecture firm and HDS, a company specialised in structural calculation.
“Following the detection of anomalies in the floats, the shore team will err on the side of caution and carry out a thorough inspection of each of the hulls to protect them. Nothing can be left to chance and these operations will require Gitana 11 to be moved back into the shed” confided Cyril Dardashti, the team manager at Baron Benjamin de Rothschild’s racing stable.
As with the motor industry, competitive sailing, especially that involving oceanic multihulls, is a mechanical sport. The fine tuning of prototypes calls for numerous adjustments. These technical vagaries are nevertheless a way of moving forward and improving the machines so as to get the very best out of them. It’s all part of the rules of the game! With six months to go till the start of the legendary transatlantic race between Saint Malo and Pointe-à-Pitre, the men and women that make up the Gitana Team are continuing to hone the maxi-trimaran Gitana 11 to ensure that the reigning champion is all ready to take up the challenge at the end of October.