Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars - North Technology

2014 season promises to be thrilling for Gitana Team

by Kate Jennings on 28 Jan 2014
Groupe Edmond De Rothschild, Skipper, Sebastien Josse Artemis Challenge
Last year proved to be a successful one for the Gitana Team: victory in the ArMen Race in May, a win in the Route des Princes in June, not to mention of course the stunning performance by the Josse– Caudrelier pairing in securing victory in the Transat Jacques Vabre in Itajaí last November. Having joined the stable equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild in March 2011, Sébastien Josse, recognised back then as a great monohull specialist, quickly got his bearings and made a name for himself among the top multihull skippers.

In less than three years, by dint of hard work and the backing of a high quality shore team, the skipper has further enriched the incredible Gitana saga. The 2014 season promises to be equally thrilling with the major Route du Rhum meeting, whose fleet will set sail from Saint Malo on 2 November. Above all though it marks the start of a five-year campaign packed with surprises, which kicks off with the arrival of a new craft within the Gitana Team and Sébastien Josse’s big comeback to an event that is particularly dear to him.

There is quite a history between the Gitana Team and the Route du Rhum, especially since Lionel Lemonchois’ victory at the helm of Gitana 11 in 2006. Indeed, the racing stable’s five arrows are a familiar sight in this event and it holds the event record of seven days 17 hours 19 minutes and six seconds to this day.

At 38 years of age, Sébastien Josse boasts an eclectic CV: Solitaire du Figaro, Vendée Globe, transatlantic races and Volvo Ocean Race… Indeed, he may have started out late in competitive sailing, but this native of Nice certainly hasn’t been dawdling. And yet, his participation in the Route du Rhum 2014 will be pretty much a first… He is a rookie to the event as well as the exercise of making for Pointe-à-Pitre singlehanded in a multihull over a 3,500-mile course. If we add to that the line-up of maxi-trimarans that Sébastien and his 21-metre steed will have to face up to, it is a daring challenge! In fact, the vital statistics of his rivals in the Ultimate class are impressive: 31 metres for Banque Populaire VII, 34 metres for the new Sodeb’O and 30 metres for Francis Joyon’s Idec… not to mention the 40-metre Spindrift 2, which hasn’t confirmed its participation as yet.

'The experience in itself appeals to me and it may well prove instructive for the next stage of the programme. Not everyone can cross the Atlantic singlehanded at the helm of a boat like Edmond de Rothschild and pulling it off would be great satisfaction in itself. That said, we perfectly understand the polars of our boat and those of our rivals and we are well aware that we won’t be able to compete with the large craft in all the different conditions. As such, on paper, we won’t be setting out with the winning horse, but as is always the case in this mechanical sport, the weather conditions we encounter will be the decisive factor. The history of the Route du Rhum has shown that it can have a few surprises up its sleeve… I’ll be setting sail in a relaxed manner free of pressure' admitted Sébastien Josse.

It’s at the helm of the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild, alias Gitana XV, that the skipper has chosen to set off from Saint Malo this coming autumn. For this, the trimaran will undergo a quick refit, which will begin in Lorient in the next few days: 'We’ll mainly be working on the ergonomics so as to adapt the Multi70’s deck layout to solo sailing: increased protection at the helming station and the pit, installation of a outside watch station to minimise the time spent down below… The work carried out on the automatic pilot will also be essential if I’m to stand a chance of driving the boat at her full potential. The rest of the work will be done on the water, with a series of sea trials and training sessions, shorthanded and then singlehanded,' explained the sailor.

For the past fourteen years, Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has been writing the story of the Gitana fleet on two or three hulls. However, given the current climate, notably the situation with the MOD70 class, the offshore racing stable and its members are being forced to view the future somewhat differently. For this reason, the Gitana Team, with the support of Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild and the Edmond de Rothschild Group, has opted to launch into the Vendée Globe adventure once again in what is a sporting but also a human decision as Cyril Dardashti, Managing Director of the Gitana Team, explains: 'Some will see our Vendée Globe choice as a change of direction, but more accurately it’s a necessary transition. Today, the MOD70 isn’t offering a perennial circuit – no race is scheduled before 2016 – and to our mind the recent announcements by the Ultim Association still lack guarantees, both in terms of the structure that this ‘class’ will offer and the events that might be organised for these giants. However, this latter project is of interest to us and we will be keeping a close eye on how it develops. Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild have always been keen to inscribe the Gitana Team and more widely the history of sailing and their family in the future. The human element is also at the very core of their involvement. The Gitana Team is about a sailor of course, but it’s also about a team working in the background to enable this man to set sail with every chance of success. Preparing a prototype yacht for an adventure like the Vendée Globe is a fine challenge for our team and everyone is passionate about it. This event is an extraordinary competition!'

The page of this new project is still blank: should a new boat be built or do you optimise an existing one? Though the option of a brand new monohull is ultimately preferable, who should build it and where? What improvements can be made to a boat from the current generation? All these questions are currently being studied by Sébastien Josse and the team as a whole. The Gitana Team fully intends to invest for success and give itself every chance of providing Sébastien Josse with a boat that matches up to his talent. In this way, whilst preparing for the major meeting of the 2014 season – the Route du Rhum – Baron Benjamin de Rothschild’s team will be working on the stable’s future IMOCA monohull from this year onwards. Such a schedule should enable Sébastien Josse to join the IMOCA circuit in 2015 so as to take part in the class’ race schedule that culminates with the Vendée Globe 2016.

This will be the second Vendée Globe experience for the Gitana Team, but this new project will be the sailor’s third participation in this Everest of the Seas. Indeed Sébastien Josse competed in the 2004-2005 and 2008-2009 editions of the famous round the world race without stopovers and without assistance and has never made any secret of his desire to return to the event at the head of a winning project. 'My history with the Vendée Globe began some 12 years ago, in 2002, when I was entrusted with the helm of my first Imoca project. That Vendée proved to be a journey of discovery. I set out on an old boat, which couldn’t really pretend to victory. However, those three months of sailing and my fifth place taught me a great many other things. The race helped me to my feet… In 2008, the year of my second participation, I returned at the helm of a latest generation monohull. Unfortunately my race was cut short offshore of New Zealand due to structural damage. That retirement has been a great frustration to me and until today it has left me with the sense that my history with the Vendée Globe was unfinished. I’m very happy with the Gitana Team’s choices and I’m all too aware of the incredible opportunity Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild are giving me by enabling us to get involved in such an adventure. The Vendée Globe is a piece of life for a sailor and it extends well beyond a mere race.'

All the Gitana Team would like to take this opportunity to pass on its very best wishes for 2014.
Gitana Team website
Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best EyewearNorth Technology - Southern SparsInSunSport - NZ

Related Articles

Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 2
Yachting NZ's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is unprecedented Yachting New Zealand's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is without precedent. Subject to Appeal, the Kiwis have signaled that they will reject 30% of the positions gained in the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander in 2014.
Posted on 22 May
Gladwell's Line - World Sailing changes tack after IOC windshift
Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick. Every blow well earned over issues such as the pollution at Rio, the Israeli exclusion abomination plus a few more. But now World Sailing is getting it right.
Posted on 21 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 1
Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving its goals Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving goals set in the Olympic Commission report of 2010. Around 64 countries are expected to be represented in Rio de Janeiro in August. That is a slight increase on Qingdao and Weymouth, but more importantly a full regional qualification system is now in place
Posted on 19 May
Taming the beast-a conversation with Stuart Meurer of Parker Hannifin
While AC72 cats were fast, they difficult to control, so Oracle partnered with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way. If you watched videos of the AC72s racing in the 34th America’s Cup (2013), you’re familiar with the mind-boggling speeds that are possible when wingsail-powered catamarans switch from displacement sailing to foiling mode. While foiling is fast, there’s no disguising the platform’s inherent instability. Now, Oracle Team USA has teamed up with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way.
Posted on 18 May
From foiling Moths to Olympic starting lines-a Q&A with Bora Gulari
Bora Gulari’s is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class, along with teammate Louisa Chafee. Bora Gulari (USA) has made a strong name for himself within high-performance sailing circles, with wins at the 2009 and 2013 Moth Worlds. In between, he broke the 30-knort barrier and was the 2009 US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. His latest challenge is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class as skipper, along with his teammate Louisa Chafee.
Posted on 12 May
Concern for Zika at Rio Olympics is now deadly serious
Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, or the Rio Olympics. Many others have, and they were apt, but things have changed. So here now we have a situation where one man, Associate Professor Amir Attaran, who does have a more than decent string of letters after his name, is bringing nearly as many facts to bear as references at the article's end
Posted on 12 May
The importance of being Alive
Since buying the stunningly pretty Reichel-Pugh canting keel 66-footer, and re-naming her Alive, Since buying the stunningly pretty Reichel-Pugh canting keel 66-footer, and re-naming her Alive, the team have lined up for a lot of things, won plenty and nabbed a record, as well. She’s presently in a yard in the Philippines having a minor refit in readiness for the Australian season. It will commence with the upcoming Brisbane to Keppel and then head sharply into this year’s Hobart.
Posted on 10 May
Zhik - The brand born of a notion, not its history
here is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline is officially marketed as Made For Water There is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline has been officially marketed as Made For Water, and this is precisely what the company has done for the last eight years before the succinct and apt strapline came from out of R&D and into mainstream visibility.
Posted on 8 May
Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May
Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted on 29 Apr