At the end of the week, in line with a request by the race organisers, the monohull equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild will leave its home port of La Trinité-sur-Mer, Brittany, for Les Sables d’Olonne, where start of the Vendée Globe will be given on 9th November.
The great rendez-vous is approaching and with twenty-five days till kick-off, the Gitana Team is sharpening its latest weapons.
Since being relaunched at the start of September, Gitana Eighty has performed a number of test sails off La Trinité-sur-Mer in order to round off her preparation. However, this week, the time has come for loading and stowage aboard the boat. Loïck Peyron and his men are proceeding with the victualling. This begins with the food and a whole range of freeze-dried dishes which will make up the bulk of the skipper’s consumption. Some dishes specially prepared by Mont d’Arbois as well as the ‘fresh’ food will be loaded in Les Sables d’Olonne, just a few days before the start. However this victualling also comprises the safety gear, the first aid kit, as well as the material for repairs and spares, which Loïck Peyron may have to use in the event of technical problems. 'It’s a massive job… nothing must be lacking and everything must have its place aboard. Everything is weighed beforehand and then the majority of the gear is vacuum-packed prior to being carefully stowed in sites designated for this purpose.'
Meantime, the skipper of Gitana Eighty has been honing his weather preparation. As such, on Monday 13th October, he travelled to Toulouse and the headquarters of Météo France, for a day working alongside Sylvain Mondon, loyal router and weather adviser to the Gitana Team: 'The Vendée Globe is a race where weather routing is forbidden but we are able to and indeed have to work on this aspect in the days running up to the start. Together with Sylvain, we looked at the weather sequence for the Vendée Globe 2004-2005, virtually hour by hour, in order to identify the key transitions and passages from the last edition. However, this work session was also the opportunity to look into the large weather phenomena along the course and the various scenarios I may have to tackle. Finally, we performed a simulation of the way the organisation of the weather work to be produced aboard according to the gathering of information' explained Loïck Peyron. A rehearsal twenty-five days before the grand start.
This Wednesday afternoon, in the bay of Quiberon, the skipper of Gitana Eighty entered into the spirit of the game with a full scale rehearsal. This unique approach was something that Loïck Peyron wanted to action so as nothing is left to chance: 'This afternoon I will simulate a start. This might appear strange but experience has taught me that Vendée Globe start days are always stressful for all the people concerned and we wanted everyone to know their role beforehand. As such, early this afternoon I will leave La Trinité-sur-Mer under motor, escorted by our support ribs, as will be the case in a little over three weeks’ time. At that point I will take a single-handed start off Tréhot prior to an afternoon’s sailing.'
On Friday evening, following an 80 mile delivery, Gitana Eighty will make her entrance into the famous channel at Les Sables d’Olonne, prior to taking her place in the no less celebrated Vendée Globe pontoon. The shore crew, managed by William Fabulet, have made it a point of honour: the monohull in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group will be all set for her circumnavigation as she moors alongside in Port Olona. Solely a few adjustment sails are scheduled, as the three week wait in Les Sables d’Olonne will be a long one and for Loïck Peyron there is no way he’s going to deprive himself of sailing as D-Day approaches. www.gitana-team.com