This, the first year for Fred Le Peutrec’s Gitana XI, has seen the team getting to grips with the boat. The results have been promising with third placed finishes at the Fécamp and Marseilles and their first Grand Prix in Corsica followed up by another at the Petite Navire Speed Trials in Douarnenez.
The Gitana Team’s ambitions for a top three finish in the 2005 ORMA Championship will require the boat and the crew to perform well both offshore and inshore. Throughout the winter months, Fred Le Peutrec and the Gitana team will continue the technical and sailing development. The boat is now in Port La Forêt for a four-month refit at CDK Composites.
The platform will not be undergoing any changes, but like the other ORMA trimarans, further research will be carried out on the appendages and sails of the Van Peteghem/ Lauriot-Prévost design including the construction of a new mast. Gitana Team’s shore crew headed up by Jean Le Huérou-Kérisel, is aiming to relaunch Gitana 11 next March.
The crew will also undergo personal training over the winter to improve their level of efficiency for offshore races and to maintain an optimum level of fitness for Grand Prix. Physical training, sailing on other types of craft, weather training and computer courses are planned.
For Gitana X, after capsized in August's Fécamp Grand Prix, the trimaran has already spent six months in the shed at the Gitana Team’s Multipôle base in Brittany. Having given the trimaran a thorough check-over, new skipper Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and his shore crew have drawn up a complete list of work to be carried out on her.
The interior layout of her central hull is to be revised. The interior coatings have been sanded down and replaced by a thin coat of paint. Her helm station layout fixed onto the crossbeams have been reduced in size.
"The work carried out on the platform of Gitana X has meant we have been able to rid the boat of 130 kg of unnecessary weight," says Duprey. "For 2005, Gitana X will be lighter, to improve her Grand Prix performance. Although Gitana X’s structure suffered during her capsize and her electronics, mast and sails were lost these have had to be replaced. We have used this opportunity to rethink the electronics completely which we have simplified to correspond with my way of sailing. Gitana X will be getting a new mast and a new set of sails from Incidence. Baron Benjamin de Rothschild wants Gitana X to become a training platform for top notch crew in much the same way as Gitana VI was a few years ago for up and coming racing yachtsmen."
Backed up by the highly experienced Olivier Wroczynski young sailors who already crewed on Gitana X in 2004 will be developing their multihull experience next year. These include Erwan Leroux who has become boat captain of Gitana 11, and will be joined by Alexandre Marmorat and Jacques Guichard.
"We will be taking on two new recruits for the sailing team, including Léo Lucet, who was in charge of hydraulics last year for the Gitana Team and who will be sailing on both ocean races and the Grand Prix competitions in 2005," continues Duprey. "Today we have a highly motivated team, and are in keeping with the schedule we set ourselves two months ago. We are planning to launch her on 15 February which will leave us a little over a month to confirm our technical modifications and get down to some training before settling down to our first races of the ORMA 2005 calendar."
Meanwhile to make all this work happen the Gitana Team shore crew have been rejigged, as Jean Le Huérou-Kérisel, Gitana Team Shore Crew Manager explains: "The Shore Crew will be reinforced this winter to work on Gitana X and Gitana 11 in two different shipyards. The current team configuration is Laurent Bourgues (composites), William Fabulet (composites), Pierre Le Diberder (composites), Jean Pierre Trottet (hydraulics), Richard Bastide (computers), Laurent Rivals (logistics), Jean Yves Le Govic (logistics) and myself. For practical purposes, we shall be organising the winter work with specific teams for each of the boats.
"In 2005, once again we will be the only shore crew on the ORMA circuit to be servicing and running two multihulls. That requires a great deal of technical organisation and clear working procedures to avoid loss of energy, skill and means, during the time spent in the shed as well as when racing. We are currently in the process of setting up procedures which will be operational when both boats will be launched, next March. We are lucky to have some of the best specialists on our team in the fields of composites, hydraulics, computers and electronics. In the context of a team reinforced by new blood, these skills will be allocated to one of the two multihulls in particular, but be prepared to stand in if necessary on the other boat."