24 hours to go
It’s the last day prior to the start of the Route du Rhum- La Banque Postale for Yann Guichard and the whole of the Gitana Team. The weather briefing by the organisation and the exit through the lock gates punctuated this Saturday evening prior to start of hostilities. Now tied to a buoy off Dinard, Gitana 11 is quietly waiting under the benevolent eye of its ‘bodyguards’.
Gitana 11 leading the way
The spectators flocked enthusiastically around the lock gates, as well as all the possible viewpoints overlooking the exit from the channel: quaysides, ramparts, sea walls, bridges and even motor boats, ribs and yachts… Saint Malo has been literally invaded since last weekend, but this Saturday has been exceptional with record crowds to wish the sailors fair winds. Furthermore, so as not to spoil a thing, the weather proved particularly favourable: sun, mild conditions and a moderate breeze.
At 1500 hours exactly, Gitana 11 was the first of the competitors to cast off to the applause of the impressive crowd. Aboard the maxi-trimaran, the skipper was keen to have his whole team around him: “All the members of the Gitana Team have been working towards this Route du Rhum for nearly two years and I was really keen to share with them the moment where the general public pay homage to us in some way. It was a mixture of emotion and stress, as you’re always fearful of knocking into something admitted Yann Guichard”. Twenty minutes later, Gitana 11 was also the first to enter the lock, followed by Sidney Gavignet, Francis Joyon and Thomas Coville, who made up the first of the six dock escapees scheduled by the organisers among a total of 85 competitors. Cyril Dardashti, general manager of the Gitana Team, couldn’t conceal his emotion and his pride: “To leave the Bassin Vauban gives us a foretaste of what’s to come. It’s a very special moment as we’ve been preparing this Route du Rhum for many long months and we’re all looking forward to the actually moment it starts. The team has prepared Gitana 11 remarkably well and Yann has worked hard as a consequence. Tomorrow it’s over to him and he knows how much trust we have in him.”
Tomorrow night two members of the Gitana Team will sleep onboard to keep an eye on the maxi-trimaran until the skipper’s return, mid-morning tomorrow.
The latest weather forecasts for the race start on Sunday at 1302 hours are pretty favourable for enabling the ultimate multihulls to exit the English Channel quickly: the moderate SE’ly breeze of around fifteen knots will leave in its wake a smooth race zone and the solo sailors will have to put in just a single tack to round the Cap Fréhel mark. As such the exit from the bay of Saint Malo promises to be very fast, whilst the first 24 hours of racing are clearly shaping up to be intense, with a sequence of manoeuvres as far as Ushant. The latter is a positive point for Gitana 11, which is unquestionably the most responsive trimaran of the fleet!
The trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is tied up to a mark off Dinard this Saturday evening, waiting to join up tomorrow morning with the Pointe du Grouin, offshore of which this ninth Route du Rhum will begin. The starting gun will be fired from the deck of the Pont-Aven ferry, in the capable hands of Marie-Luce Penchard, Minister of France’s overseas territories as well as Rama Yade, Secretary of State for Sport.