New Gitana X

The latest in the famous series of Rothschild's yachts has three hulls

Wednesday March 20th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
Baron Benjamin de Rothschild today unveiled the latest in the line if his family's racing yachts. This time the latest boat, Gitana X is a state of the art 60ft trimaran that is nearing completion at the Multiplast boatyard in Vannes, Brittany.

Aside from her owner one of the most interesting things about this trimaran is that it is the result of a design team. This team includes Gilles Ollier and Jan Penfornis and the team at Multiplast who were responsible for the three giant maxi-cats of The Race. Ollier's last 60ft trimaran design was Elf Aquitaine (which Rothschild also owns) which was campaigned by Jean Maurel the late 1980s.

Aside from the Gilles Ollier Design Team, also behind the creation of the new Gitana is the talented Swiss architect Sébastien Schmidt whose best known boat was Alinghi, not the America's Cup boat but Ernesto Bertarelli catamaran Swiss lake racer. Also part of the design team was Duncan Maclane, who featured recently in Christian Fevrier's photo series recently about the C-Class catamarans. Maclane was part of design and sailing team of Cogito, the current Little America's Cup holder.

The design team went back to basics within the constraints of the ORMA 60ft multihull class rules and even took a fresh look at whether a modern catamaran could be competitive in this class. Development work was carried out over the course of a year.

To compete on the ORMA circuit a modern day 60ft multihull must be optimised for two functions - to compete in fully crewed round the cans races as well as short handed ocean races.

The most visible difference between the new Gitana and her competitors is the X-shaped crossbeam configuration. Apart from excellent weight centring and increased stiffness of the platform, it enables a huge cockpit to be located in the aft part of the central hull, ideal for manoeuvring with a full crew. The mast is stepped at the point where the X crosses, a place that was particularly delicate to design, engineer and then build.

As one would expect from Maclane's involvement the mast is state of the art and although it bears little resemblance to the solid wing rigs of a C-Class cat, the entire rig can cant both athwartships and fore and aft. The mast is a wing section, but has a relatively narrow chord in order to par weight down to a minimum. This will reduce pitching and should help the boat be quicker to get going again after tacking and gybing.

The volume of the hulls are moderate and the floats are fitted with curved foils locaated well forward. These appendages like the deep daggerboard and the rudders were the subject of very advanced design studies. In total, 200 drawings were necessary for building the boat.

It was not only the design that was state of the art. So was the build at Multiplast, who have been relentlessly churning out state of the art multihulls over the last few months - including the three big cats, Geronimo and now Gitana. This also not to mention the new challenging yacht for the French America's Cup team...

More than 30,000 hours went into the new Gitana's construction with carbon fibre female moulds built and used to form the hulls, built in a sandwich of carbon fibre with a Nomex honeycomb core, all of which were baked at 120degC.

While Baron de Rothschild owns the boat, campaigning it in short handed events such as this November's Route du Rhum will be the well respected French sailor Lionel Lemonchois. Lemonchois has a reputation for being one of the top boat 'preparateurs' and has worked with many of the top Open 60 and trimaran teams. He has also been an active sailor in the Mini (it was his boat in which Simon Curwen did so well in last year's Mini Transat) and sailed on board Team Adventure in The Race.

Spec:

Architects: Gitana Team

Builder: Multiplast

Spar design (mast and boom): HDS

Loa: 18,28 m / 60ft

Beam: 18m

Weight: 5.8 T

Mainsail: 180 m2

Solent: 130 m2

Gennaker: 250 m2

Air draught: 30,40 m / 100ft

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