Gitana Team is everywhere… Whilst the crew of Gitana 13 are in San Francisco preparing for North Pacific record attempt, certain members of Gitana Team, led by Loïck Peyron, benefited from the long Easter weekend to take their first victory in the Spi Ouest France,
by Kate Jennings
thanks to the race stable created in 2000 by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. Gitana 13 to attack the North Pacific crossing
The maxi-catamaran’s 2008 record campaign in the colours of the LCF Rothschild group continues… Just weeks after its victorious finish in San Francisco, where it racked up a new reference time from the Route de l’Or (New York – San Francisco via Cape Horn) in 43 days 3 minutes and 18 seconds (a time approved by the WSSRC), the crew of Gitana 13 will take to the seas again. Lionel Lemonchois and his men will be attacking the North Pacific crossing record between San Francisco and Yokohama; a record which today belongs to French sailor Olivier de Kersauson and his crew aboard a 34 metre trimaran Geronimo. The crew of Gitana 13 will have to better the reference time of 14 days 22 hours 40 minutes and 41 seconds to be able to add a new record to their conquests.
Lionel Lemonchois, skipper of the maxi-catamaran Gitana 13, shares his view of the course with us: 'At first glance, you might well believe that the North Pacific crossing is a rather nice little stroll through the tradewinds, but when you look at it in more depth things are actually a bit more complicated. In reality it is a winding, complex course, which is likely to prove fairly demanding for the men and the machine alike. However, as always, this is what makes the challenge more appealing! The time to beat being fourteen days and a few hours, it may be considered to be a short record, compared with the Route de l’Or, which lasted over 43 days (laughs). On this second record of the season, there won't be any appointed onboard navigator (a position which Dominic Vittet occupied between New York and San Francisco). Instead I'll be concentrating more on this part, with the same precious help from Sylvain Mondon on shore. We will be welcoming Kojiro Shiraishi, a Japanese sailor aboard, as this mix of cultures is something Gitana Team wished for when it committed itself to this rather atypical Round the World.'
Given the latest weather information from Sylvain Mondon (Météo France), Gitana 13 may well set off to tackle this new record at the end of the week: 'We were aiming for a gap around 27th, 28th March but the window seems to have shifted slightly and today we’re focusing more on a departure between 29th and 31st March. The situation which the various weather files are presenting will enable the crew of Gitana 13 to gain westing for 3 to 4 days to hunt down the tradewinds. It's an attractive configuration in terms of gaining ground along the route.' The Gitana Team wins the Spi Ouest France Bouygues Télécom
A traditional French rendez-vous over Easter weekend, the Spi Ouest France brings together thousands of racers each year to the Quiberon Bay race zone; a unique spectacle in Europe with over 500 boats registered. This 2008 edition, which marked the 30th anniversary of the event, will be etched in our minds for a long time, not solely as a result of the rather feisty weather conditions, which characterised the past two days of racing, but also the blockade in the port of La Trinité-sur-Mer operated by the fishermen at the start of the weekend.
For this anniversary edition, Gitana Team enlisted a 7.50 Open – a 7.50 metres one design – skippered by the general manager and skipper of Gitana Eighty, Loïck Peyron. The sailor was supported by five crew members; a dream team comprised of Jean-Baptiste Levaillant on tactics, Antoine Mermod and Didier Le Vourch’ trimming the sheets and Sébastien Thétiot on the bow, not to mention the young ‘featherweight’ Alexandre Allegaert, the onboard mascot.
Valued by the top names in ocean racing, the 7.50 Open groups together a high class line-up each year. In this way, Gitana Team were up against crews led by the likes of Pascal Bidégorry, Marc Guillemot, Franck Cammas, Yann Guichard and even Frédéric Duthil. There were a vast number of racers, some breeze and some fiercely contended races resulting in a rather close finish. After the five races run, Loïck Peyron and his crew excelled, taking the first victory for Gitana Team in this event. They finished 3 points ahead of Franck Cammas and 5 points ahead of Frédéric Duthil.
Registering for the competition fairly late in the day after just a weekend's training, the crew of Gitana Team still rapidly found their marks aboard the Finot one design. 'This first victory in the Spi Ouest France is a team victory, made possible by good cohesion and group work. We hadn’t trained much but we all just clicked pretty quickly. Personally, I had already raced the 7.50 Open on numerous occasions and it’s always interesting to be able to measure yourselves against friends on an equal footing. The 7.50 Open is a well established boat which provides some great sensations on the water and gives us some fantastic contact races synonymous with the one design class. The Spi Ouest France is an incredible spectacle… a really atypical race, where we race against boats in the same category, whilst having to manage the crosses with numerous other fleets which set out after us' confided Loïck Peyron on his return to shore.
The latest on Gitana Team at www.gitana-team.com
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10:46 PM Wed 26 Mar 2008 GMT
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