For the Gitana Team the winter refits will soon give way to launches and on-the-water training sessions. This year, Sébastien Josse and his crew will be racing aboard the MOD Edmond de Rothschild, as well as lining up for some events with Gitana 11, the team’s 77-foot prototype trimaran. This 2013 season will comprise two major meetings for the racing stable founded by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild: one European tour in June and, in the autumn, the return to a major double-handed transatlantic race.
Gitana 11 - ArMen Race 2011
To-ings and fro-ings in the yard: Since November, Gitana Team’s technical base in Lorient hasn’t been lying idle. The first craft to enter the workshops was Gitana XV - the MOD 70 Edmond de Rothschild – which was entrusted to the safe hands of the préparateurs for a refit lasting a little over two months, the aim of which was essentially to check the platform after a very busy 2012 season: 'We’ve dismantled, cleaned and examined all the mechanical parts. Those that were showing signs of wear have been replaced. The same operations have been performed on the rig. In terms of the composites, the condition of the surface of all the appendages has been reviewed,' explained David Boileau, the trimaran’s boat captain, as the one-design was removed from the yard midway through February. Gitana XV will return to Breton waters next week, according to the predicted weather windows. At that point, after a few start-up sea trials with the team’s technicians, Sébastien Josse and his crew will begin their pre-season training.
Meantime, the technical workshop will continue to run at full capacity: one trimaran replacing another, with Gitana 11 taking up position in the shed the minute her stable mate was outside. David outlines the work being carried out on the 23-metre maxi-trimaran: 'Our jobs list was a bit more extensive for Gitana 11 as the boat only underwent some quick work last year. The most important job involved an assessment from the masthead to the daggerboard, which involved both the structural elements and the mechanical parts. She’s currently undergoing a major check-up (hydraulics, deck fittings…) and we’re changing certain elements, such as the rig. Finally, we’ve begun the construction of some new foils and Gitana 11 is being reviewed as if she had to race in the Route du Rhum tomorrow!'
From crewed to double-handed configuration: Sébastien Josse likes nothing more than sailing and pitting himself against adversaries. As such, the midwinter break, though indispensable on a technical level, doesn’t exactly sit easily with him. However, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild has ways of filling in this downtime: 'This winter, I’ve been doing a spot of Match Racing and some foiling Moth sessions, but this has just been for fun and to stay in contact with the sea above all else. I’ve made the most of this refit period to hone my physical preparation, with some work in the mountains in particular. In February, I took part in the Transjurassienne skating competition, over a course spanning some 57km. It was a first for me and it was a superb experience, which has inspired me to return again next year for the 76km course. This sport combines endurance and physical effort, which are two very important points aboard our machines.'
With the scheduled launch of Gitana XV next week, the sailor didn’t disguise his satisfaction: 'I’m really itching to get back out on the water and I’m especially looking forward to doing battle with our rivals. The first official races will begin in early May, with the Tour de Belle-Ile for Gitana 11 and the ArMen Race for the MOD. In the meantime, we’ve got two training sessions organised by the Pôle Finistère Course au Large and a vast number of our own jaunts planned. I can’t wait for all that to get going!'
Though the 2013 season marks a year of transition for the MOD class – which means there won’t be a Multi One Championship – the various forces present are as keen as ever to race against each other so as retain the fleet notion. In this way, the boat owners have worked out a common programme of races together. Among these are the Route des Princes, a tour of Europe for Multihulls, which will be contested in June and will set out from Valencia (Spain) and finish in the bay of Morlaix in France after three weeks of racing. Then, in early November, the MOD 70 Edmond de Rothschild, will take the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre. This participation will herald the return of the large multihulls to this double-handed transatlantic between Le Havre and Itajaï (Brazil).
'In sporting terms, 2013 will be split into two large, fairly distinct parts, though the craft remains identical. We’ll kick off the season with a crew of six to eight people, then in the summer our time will be entirely dedicated to sailing double-handed to prepare for the Transat Jacques Vabre. This double-handed transatlantic race will be a fresh challenge for me and we have a lot of work ahead of us', admitted Sébastien Josse. Indeed, let’s not forget that the Krys Ocean Race was the skipper’s first transatlantic aboard a multihull and he competed in it with a crew of six.
The names of the crew who will accompany Sébastien Josse this season will be revealed over the coming days.
Provisional Race Programme for 2013
Tour de Belle-Ile, 4 May
Artemis Challenge, 8 August
Rolex Fastnet Race, start on 11 August
Edmond de Rothschild (Gitana XV)
ArMen Race, from 9 to 12 May
Route des Princes, from 6 to 30 June (Valencia – Lisbon – Dublin – Plymouth – Morlaix)
Transat Jacques Vabre, start on 3 November (Le Havre – Itajaï)