For the past couple of months, the Gitana Team has been linking together a series of sessions out on the water, alternating between crewed and double-handed configuration. The members of the racing stable created by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild are pulling out all the stops for the major race meets scheduled in 2013.
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild
After their MOD70 victory in the ArMen Race, Sébastien Josse and his men now have their sights on the Route des Princes; a tour of Europe in five legs, which will officially kick off on 7 June 2013 in Valencia, with the first inshore races. During this event, Sébastien Josse will be teaming up with Charles Caudrelier, among other, who will take up the role of navigator-helmsman aboard the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild. It’s alongside this talented Breton, that the skipper of Gitana Team has also opted to set sail on the Transat Jacques Vabre, a double-handed race between Le Havre and Itajaï (Brazil), which will be contested this coming November.
From the same generation of sailors, Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier have known each other and appreciated the other’s talent for some 15 years. Often rivals, particularly in the highly selective Figaro Bénéteau Class, but very rarely associated on the same boat, these two sailors do share a number of similarities, which are as much to do with their track records as their characters. On 3 June 2013, they’ll set sail together from Le Havre for the 10th running of the Transat Jacques Vabre; a thrilling challenge for which the duo have already put in a countless number of hours on the water, and fully intend to surpass their ‘rookie’ status as double-handed multihull sailors through sheer hard work and motivation.
Sébastien Josse: 'Charles is an industrious sailor. He’s got experience in Figaro and single-handed sailing and then more recently that of the Volvo Ocean Race, where he secured a brilliant win alongside Franck Cammas. If we add to that his shorthanded races in an Imoca monohull, the Jacques Vabre in particular, his wealth of experience made him a very interesting candidate. With regard the multihull, this Transat will be a first for both of us and it’s a daring challenge. However, we share the same approach to sailing, which involves working hard at it to gain success.
For the past two months, we’ve been on the water virtually five out of seven days so as to prepare ourselves for this double-handed mission aboard Edmond de Rothschild. We need to rack up some miles, whether it is with two or six crew, as will be the case in the Route des Princes, and we’re really up for the challenge. Every time we go out, we gain in confidence with the boat handling and we’re pushing back the limits. Last year, the team was just getting a feel for the boat, but this year we’re obviously driving her with a greater degree of intensity. Charles is a talented sailor, who is making very fast headway and we have more than five months, including nearly three intense weeks on the Route des Princes, to calmly prepare ourselves for the Jacques Vabre.'
How do you feel about this announcement and the sporting challenge that lies ahead?
Charles Caudrelier wearing alternative head protaction, onboard Groupama Sailing Team during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)
Charles Caudrelier: 'I feel a great sense of delight and pride that Sébastien and the Gitana Team have chosen me to participate in the Transat Jacques Vabre aboard the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild. Since my victory in the Solitaire du Figaro in 2004, I’ve really been drawn to these fantastic multihulls. In 2005, I was at the start of the Jacques Vabre in the 60’ Orma category, but that attempt came to a very abrupt end. I still feel a certain amount of frustration from this experience, as well as a real urge to go back to it. It’s a superb opportunity to be able to do that.
Within Gitana Team, we are lucky to be able to rely on a professional structure to do things right and take the necessary time to thoroughly prepare ourselves. The fact that the boats are one-designs, and don’t call for technical developments, enables us to devote all our sessions on the water to pure sailing. The time we spend there and our extreme motivation will be the force behind our pairing in my view. I’m particularly happy to be sharing this challenge with Sébastien, in whom I have the utmost confidence. We both have Volvo experience, which has added a great deal to the way in which we prepare for a race and manage it. Sébastien is a big fan of boardsports, as well as being a talented and intuitive sailor, and I think he’s got his bearings in the multihull very quickly.
On these trimarans, especially given that they’re one-designs, it’s the sailors who make a difference in terms of speed. Sébastien is a very good pilot so it’s down to me now to make sure I’m at the same level. For that, the Route des Princes, despite being raced in crewed configuration, will be an excellent opportunity to get some miles under our belts and further boost by experience on the craft. This three-week competition promises to be both intense and hotly contested.'
The Josse – Caudrelier duo and the Transat Jacques Vabre:
Sébastien Josse: Third participation, first in a multihull
Charles Caudrelier: Fourth participation, second in a multihull, 1 victory in 2009 (Imoca class with Safran)
Tomorrow morning, Sébastien Josse and his crew will cast off from the Gitana Team’s home port of Lorient, bound for the Mediterranean. However, prior to drawing alongside in Valencia (Spain), from which the Route des Princes will set sail on 7 June 2013, the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild will spend a few days in the Vieux Port in Marseille. This delivery trip of over 1,700 nautical miles, or around five to six days at sea according to the routing software, will be a perfect opportunity to put the lessons learnt from their day-long training sessions over recent weeks into practice: 'We’re heading off tomorrow with the aim of negotiating two depressions. We’ll benefit from 15-20 knots of northerly wind. The first few miles should be pretty quick and the Bay of Biscay will soon be devoured. If we leave at 0800 hours tomorrow morning, the routing has us rounding Cape Finisterre the same evening, at around 2100 hours even…
There will be quite big seas but it’ll still be manageable. We’ll also make fast headway along the coast of Portugal, as we’ll be sailing downwind as far as Gibraltar. With the current forecasts, we should be on a run as far as the Balearics. The end of the course is more uncertain and we’ll have to contend with the vagaries of the Mediterranean. We’ll make the delivery with a crew of six, as will be the case for a leg of the European Tour. The course is a bit longer than a leg, but it will be a good introduction to proceedings with the implementation of a watch system, which will see us switching between three on and three off with some night sailing. This delivery trip will be our final chance for a full-scale dress rehearsal prior to the Route des Princes', Sébastien Josse concludes.
Gitana Team 2013 Races
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 7 to 30 June (Valencia – Lisbon – Dublin – Plymouth – Morlaix)
Transat Jacques Vabre, start on 3 November (Le Havre – Itajaï)