Line up for Zeebrugge

The 60ft trimarans will again lock horns at the Belgium Grand Prix on 11-14 July

Thursday June 27th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected
The third 9 Telecom ORMA Grand Prix of the year will take place again the Belgium port of Zeebrugge. Significantly it will be the first outing of two new trimarans - Michel Desjoyeaux's Geant and the new Gitana X of Lionel Lemonchois.

Since the Courses des Phares around the lighthouses race, the overall ranking of the championship has been turned on its head. The race was won by Loick Peyron's Fujifilm with Jean le Cam's Bonduelle in second, but championship contenders Franck Cammas in Groupama and Alain Gautier's Foncia, were among the many tris forced to retire and scored nothing.

In home waters will be Jean-Luc Nelias on board Belgacom. Since losing her mast and then taking part in the Course des Phares with a spare, this boat has now been fitted with a brand new rotating carbon fibre wingmast. Similarly Alain Gautier's new Foncia, which ran into a sandbank in the Tage Estuary at Lisbon, is now repaired and back in action.

Bertrand de Broc, racing Banque Covefi was one of the survivors of the Course des Phares - finishing third - and has fitted a new mast on his tri, formerly Loick Peyron's Fujicolor. Since the lighthouses race Philippe Monnet has been out testing his new Lombard design Sopra Group, while the lady in the pack - Karine Fauconnier - has been completing her Route du Rhum qualifier on board her Sergio Tacchini.

However all eyes will be on the two new boats.

Geant, sponsored by the French supermarket chain, is the Vendee Globe winner's first trimaran, although he has been a regular crewman on this circuit for more than a decade. The boat was built by Mich's brother Hubert at CDK Technologies in his home town of Port la Foret. Unusually for Desjoyeaux - a man known for his pioneering instinct - the boat is nothing radical, but no one doubts that both boat and skipper have race winning potential.

Gitana X is the first trimaran to be designed and built by Gilles Ollier's Chantier Multiplast - better known as the builders of Le Defi Areva's America's Cup boats and the G-class catamarans such as Orange and Maiden II. Owned by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild and skippered by Lionel Lemonchois this boat has many innoviations, most noticably her X-shaped cross beams.

60ft trimarans that won't be taking part in the Grand Prix include last year's winner, Banque Populaire which is still be repaired after sustaining damage to one of her floats en route to the start of the Course des Phares. Biscuits La Trinitaine/Team Ethypharm is still having work carried out on her mast following the Course des Phares, while Fred le Peutrec's Bayer CropScience is back in the boatyard for five weeks to have structural repairs made to her cross beams.

Last of the new trimarans to be launched prior to November's Route du Rhum will be the new Sodebo of Thomas Coville. She will be dipped on 6 July.

9 Telecom ORMA championship points (those attending Zeebrugge)
1. Loïck Peyron Fujifilm - 36 points
2. Jean Le Cam Bonduelle - 21 points
3. Bertrand de Broc Banque Covefi - 12.2 points
4. Franck Cammas Groupama - 10.3 points
7. Alain Gautier Foncia 2 1,3 points
8. Philippe Monnet Sopra Group - 0,5 point
10. Jean-Luc Nélias Belgacom 0,3 points
Karine Fauconnier Sergio Tacchini - NC
Michel Desjoyeaux Géant - NC
Lionel Lemonchois Gitana X - NC

To see more of Gilles Martin-Raget's fantastic images - click here

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