After setting out at 1434 hrs local time on Sunday 20th June, Gitana 11 was logically the first of the fifty-three participants to make it back to the eastern jetty of the port of Saint-Nazaire this Monday morning. It was at exactly 10 hours 13 minutes and 58 seconds local time that the maxi-multihull fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild completed the 360 mile course. Her skipper, Yann Guichard, gave us a rundown of the express record: “the conditions were perfect for us: flat seas, a wind of between 12 and 18 knots and a beautiful moon to accompany our night at sea. Our first climb up towards Sainte Marine involved an upwind leg in a NNW’ly breeze and those were the longest 90 miles of the record for Gitana 11. However, by early evening, after we passed the entrance to the Odet River, the wind clocked round to the NE, enabling us to complete the remaining one and a half circuits on a reach (Ed. wind on the beam). Gitana 11 goes fast on that point of sail and we were able to rack up a good pace, with top speeds of over 30 knots.”
By forming part of the second group to take the start, the 77 foot trimaran was able to enjoy the spectacle of thundering past the entire fleet participating in this 6th SNSM record, taking the lead from the Grand Charpentier lighthouse, which marks the exit from the Loire estuary. Not surprisingly this was a moment which was much appreciated by the crew: “The departure from Saint-Nazaire was fantastic, with a fine breeze and a good helping of sunshine. The section that took us along the Loire Estuary enabled us to get past all our little playmates and it really was a fabulous spectacle to sail along, slaloming amongst this assorted fleet” explained Yann Guichard on his return, Gitana 11 already heading back to her home port.
For her first official outing since her transformation and extension with a view to the next Route du Rhum – La Banque Postale, Gitana 11 was able to show off part of her potential. These few hours sailing in a record atmosphere will have enabled Yann Guichard and his team to push their steed and learn a little more about their maxi-trimaran. For the skipper and the members of Gitana Team, the training sessions promise to be intense throughout the summer.