Between racing and final checks: no downtime for the Gitana Team
In a month’s time, the maxi-trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild will make her entry into the port of Saint Malo on France’s North coast. Her arrival in the Corsair Town will mark the home straight for the team before the start of the 9th Route du Rhum – La Banque Postale, scheduled a week later on Sunday 31st October. During this period, where every day counts, the members of the Gitana Team aren’t wasting a second. Indeed, whilst Yann Guichard is taking off for Sicily this Tuesday, for the fourth event of the Extreme Sailing Series 2010, the shore crew is honing the final details and putting Gitana 11 through one last check-up.

General check-up for Gitana 11
With the Route du Rhum fast approaching the team’s schedule is being fined down to the nearest millimetre… For Yann Guichard and the Gitana Team’s shore crew, the first three weeks of September have been entirely devoted to preparing the flagship of the Gitana fleet. Indeed the skipper of Gitana 11 has used the varied conditions of the past few weeks to best advantage by making a number of solo sails. Alternating between day sails and nights spent at sea, Yann has been able to improve and perfect his knowledge of the ‘machine’.

Yesterday, the team made the most of another session on the water with Gitana 11 before the maxi-trimaran revisits the familiar surroundings of the team’s hangars. This final return to the yard prior to the start of the Route du Rhum will be an express pit stop, dedicated exclusively to service checks prior to a solo transatlantic crossing, as well as a thorough clean of the hull. “It’s a short but perfect timeframe. Yann is overseas for virtually the whole week to defend the colours of the Edmond de Rothschild Group at the helm of the team’s Extreme 40, and we’re spot on with our pre-start timing. Following the May refit we had thought that would be the last time we would lift the boat out onto the hard. However, this latest session in the yard doesn’t alter Gitana 11’s sailing and preparation programme in any way so it was important to make the most of this opportunity. We’re once again working along the principle of precaution as the team always prefers to give the boat a general check-up before an event like the Route du Rhum, especially as certain inspections require Gitana 11 to be out of the water” explains Cyril Dardashti, General Manager of the Gitana Team.

Gitana 11’s technical manager and boat captain, William Fabulet, explains the aims of this final pit stop: “We have a week to inspect the boat, which will take the form of a visual scan and possibly a sounding check. This general check-up isn’t compulsory but given that the schedule allows for it we prefer not to leave anything to chance. All the lines and onboard systems will be checked and anything which shows signs of wear will be replaced. We’re also going to concentrate on the mast so as to dismantle the various elements which make it up, degrease and put everything back in place. To round all that off, the team will make the most of the opportunity to buff up the hull so that Gitana 11 can slip along perfectly.”

Trapani plays host to the Extreme Sailing Series for the first time
As explained above, the Gitana Team’s shore crew will be making the most of the racing in Trapani and the resulting absence of their skipper on Breton waters, to carry out an express trip to the yard. Indeed, in 48 hours’ time, the fourth and penultimate Grand Prix of the Extreme Sailing Series 2010 will begin. From Thursday to Sunday – 23rd to 26th September – seven crews will be battling it out in the nautical arena of Trapani, a famous port town to the North-West of the island. And though the Sicilian town is playing host to the 40 foot one-designs for the very first time, this certainly won’t be its first ever nautical event. In fact, back in 2005, the Louis Vuitton Cup races were held there, as was the Orma 60’ multihull Grand Prix two years later.

“Despite my Sicilian roots, which I get from my mother, I know very little about the island and have no experience at all of the race zone in Trapani. I’m really looking forward to discovering it. I’m also delighted that I’ll be doing some crewed racing again after several weeks dedicated to solo sailing aboard Gitana 11. The two exercises are completely different, but I find that they have a certain complementary nature about them in my preparation for the Rhum” explains Yann Guichard.

After its victory in Germany at the end of August – the second success of the 2010 season – the crew of Edmond de Rothschild will doubtless be closely monitored by the competition… but it’s going to take more than that to unsettle the Gitana skipper: “We’re leading the championship and our latest victory in Kiel a few weeks back, was very important. Right now we still have two Grand Prix events to compete in and the first three have clearly demonstrated that the situation can change in the blink of an eye, as the top four crews are so similar. As a result my crew aren’t going to change the way we’re sailing. We’re just going to take it one race at a time and do our best to get on the podium again. I reckon that’s the best way of winning the 2010 championship” concludes Yann Guichard.

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group in Trapani
Yann Guichard - Skipper, helmsman / Pierre Pennec – Mainsail trimmer / Hervé Cunningham – Headsail trimmer / Yves Detrey - Bowman

Provisional ranking in the Extreme Sailing Series 2010 (after three Grands Prix)
1. Edmond de Rothschild Group (Yann Guichard) - 22 points
2. The Wave, Muscat (Paul Campbell-James) - 20 points
3. Ecover Sailing Team (Mike Golding) - 19 points
4. Oman Sail Masirah (Loïck Peyron) - 17 points
5. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (Roman Hagara) - 10 points
6. Groupama 40 (Franck Cammas) - 9 points
7. The Ocean Racing Club (Mitch Booth) - 8 points
8. Team GAC Pindar (Nick Moloney) - 3 points

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