Teething problems for Gitana

Rothschild's new flier must pull out of Belgium Grand Prix

Friday July 12th 2002, Author: Anne Massot, Location: France
Lionel Lemonchois' brand new trimaran Gitana X has been forced to stop in the Channel port of Boulogne-sur-Mer for the last 48 hours, following damaged sustained to the starboard forward crossbeam. As a result the team have had to withdraw from the 60ft trimaran class's Zeebrugge Grand Prix.

Indeed, despite repairs carried out on site by a team from her builders Multiplast and which would have enabled her to put to sea again, Gitana X was compelled to remain on the dock following a decision by the experts.

Although the radiography of the crack that had appeared on the starboard forward beam had been carried out by ultrasound - the most reliable process for analysing structures - the specialists, out of precaution, requested the trimaran to return to the yard without taking part in Zeebrugge, in order to carry out more in depth analysis.

Skipper Lionel Lemonchois commented: "of course I'm disappointed not to be taking part in this first Grand Prix and not being able to pit Gitana against her 'mates'. But we cannot take any risks. We are right in the middle of sea trials with the boat and we have only done about fifty hours sailing since the launch!"

As the weather is fine, Gitana X should leave Boulogne tomorrow (Saturday) around midday, for Vannes and chantier Multiplast, with a short-handed crew including Benjamin de Rothschild, president of the LCF Rothschild group, owner and member of crew of the boat.

Once the tests have been carried out, all necessary repairs will carried out by Multiplast, so that the trimaran can resume her sea trials and development, in particular for single-handing: "Lionel Lemonchois must carry out his qualifier for the Route du Rhum before 15 September. We've still got a lot of work to do. But that's the lot of these very technical boats," said Olivier Besse, Gitana X's project manager.

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