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Gitana 13 attacks 2006 North Pacific record

'Gitana 13'    © Gitana S.A. /Yvan Zedda    Click Here to view large photo

The stopwatch is back in action aboard Gitana 13. On standby in San Francisco since 28th February – the completion date of La Route de l'Or-, the maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild set off this Saturday 29th March at 22h45'45' UTC, for a record attempt between San Francisco and Yokohama.

The new holders of La Route de l'Or (New York – San Francisco), Lionel Lemonchois and his ten crew are today tackling the North Pacific crossing. And, in order that the men of the Gitana Team rack up another victory they'll need to make Yokohama, Japan, in less than 14 days 22 hours 40 minutes and 41 seconds. The latter is the current reference time set by Olivier de Kersauson and his team aboard Geronimo since 27th April 2006.

Eleven men have embarked on this second record.

'The crew has been slightly changed in relation to that of La Route de l'Or, since Jacques Vincent, Jean-Baptiste Epron, Cyril Dardashti Stefan Fodor and Kojiro Shiraishi are joining us. There were ten of us onboard Gitana 13 between New York and San Francisco, but there will be eleven of us for the North Pacific crossing. Personally, I shall have a greater involvement in the weather since the crew no longer has an appointed navigator aboard' explained the skipper of Gitana 13, prior to giving us a more in depth look at the 4,500 miles which lie ahead.

'According to the latest weather information, we should benefit from a fairly quick start for the first few days and once we're out of San Francisco Bay, we'll hit a good NW'ly air flow. The first part of our crossing is shaping up rather nicely but, for the time being, things aren't very established for the second half, particularly with the lows, which are piling in one after the other off the Japanese coast.'

The presence of the Japanese sailor Kojiro Shiraishi, who was 2nd in the Velux 5 Océans 2006-2007, will be a considerable asset for the crew of the 33 metre maxi-catamaran; especially at the approach to the Japanese coast, renowned for its complexity.

The weather is always a tricky element and the Gitana Team are keeping to their usual routine and will once again be able to count on the talent of Sylvain Mondon (Météo France). The router shows us the weather configuration for the start of this new record attempt: 'Gitana 13 has set off at the rear of a front in order to benefit from a NW'ly breeze, currently blowing along the Californian coast.

This wind, comprising an average of between 20 and 25 knots, may gust to between 30 and 35. It's quite a feisty start but it will be interesting as the NW'ly wind angle will enable Lionel Lemonchois and his men to make good headway whilst gaining ground in the SW and then quickly the W, that's to say not too far off the direct course. The start of the record promises to be quick but in the first 36 hours, the crew of Gitana 13 will have to negotiate a first high pressure passage. The Pacific Ocean is not a very appropriate name as this ocean has rather a bad reputation. Given its expanse, the systems which are circulating there often grow in size during their crossing.'

A brief history
The current record holder, the crew of Geronimo set off on this same attempt on 12th April 2006. Olivier de Kersauson and his men snatched the previous record set by Steve Fossett back on 23rd May 1996. The American adventurer set a reference time of 19 days 15 hours 18 minutes 9 seconds on the 60 foot trimaran Lakota.

Ten years later, when Olivier de Kersauson and his ten men set off, the conditions reigning over the Pacific forced them to choose a very southerly route over the first few days at sea, distancing them from the direct course. Though Geronimo made the most of it to pass between the Hawaiian islands and rounded the mark of 'Diamond Head' after 4 days and 19 hours. In so doing it established a new reference time between San Francisco and Honolulu (Hawaii). This passage off Honolulu, also proved to be an opportunity for Olivier de Kersauson and his crew to glean the record between Honolulu and Yokohama, previously owned by Steve Fossett, in 13 days and 20 hours.

On crossing the finish line of this North Pacific crossing on 27th April 2006, after 14 days 22 hours 40 minutes and 41 seconds at sea, the so-called 'Admiral' racked up yet another win.

The crew of Gitana 13
Lionel Lemonchois (Skipper / helm / watch leader)
Jacques Vincent (helm / watch leader)
Ludovic Aglaor (helm/ watch leader)
Olivier Wroczynski (trimmer /computer manager)
Nicolas Raynaud (trimmer/ Video manager)
David Boileau (N°2 / trimmer/ head of deck fittings)
Léopold Lucet (Bowman/ head of supplies)
Jean-Baptiste Epron (trimmer)
Stefan Fodor (trimmer)
Cyril Dardashti (trimmer)
Kojiro Shiraishi (trimmer)

A few figures
Route de l'Or (New York – San Francisco, via Cape Horn):
43 days 3 minutes 18 seconds (time approved by the WSSRC), improving on the reference time set by Yves Parlier by over 14 days.
Lionel Lemonchois and the crew of Gitana 13 have held this record since 28thFebruary 2008.

North Pacific Crossing (San Francisco – Yokohama):
Time to beat – 14 days 22 hours 40 minutes 41 seconds
Departure from San Francisco – Saturday 29th March at 22h45'45' UTC
Latest arrival date to beat the record - Sunday 13th April at 21h25'26' UTC

Find all the latest about the Gitana Team at

by Kate Jennings


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1:40 AM Sun 30 Mar 2008 GMT

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