New directions for Gitana

A diverse calendar of events and class for Baron Rothschild's team

Monday February 19th 2007, Author: Benedicte Etienne, Location: France
Gitana 13, the Gitana Team’s 33m maxi-catamaran (ex Innovation Explorer/Orange 1/Kingfisher 2) was launched on 30 January outside her builder Chantier Multiplast in Vannes. While the boat was originally rumoured to be skippered by Loick Peyron, instead golden boy and Route du Rhum winner Lionel Lemonchois will be at the helm.

While it will be difficult for Gitana 13 to compete with the latest-generation G class vessels like Groupama 3 or the even larger Banque Populaire 5, she remains nonetheless a boat with a stunning track record. Modifications made to the catamaran over the winter will be test out prior to making attempt on two records early this season: La Route de la Découverte, Cadix-San Salvador (held by Steve Fosset on Playstation in 9 days, 13 h, 30 m and 18s) and Miami-New York (2 days 5h 54 m 42s). Depending on Gitana 11's programme, it’s possible that her stable mate will also attempt other records this season, but Gitana 13 will be dedicated to breaking new ground with a programme set to start in 2008.

The G-Class maxi-cat will not be the stable’s only newcomer during 2007. Followed with his solo experience gained in last autumn's Route de Rhum aboard Gitana 12, Thierry Duprey du Vorsent will this season take the helm of his new Beneteau Figaro 2, Domaine du Mont d’Arbois, a property owned by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild at Megève. But judging by the old hands he is going to have to face, his first season is unlikely to be a gentle introduction. Nevertheless, the prospect is in no way dampening the motivation of Thierry, who, for the occasion, is taking over the former Groupe Bel of past Solitaire winner Christophe de Pavant, winner of the 2006 Transat AG2R, with whom he twice sailed in the Cap Istanbul race. The race from Marseilles to Turkey will follow a hard core warm up with solo BPE Trophy across the Atlatnic and will preceed the Everest of the class, la Solitaire Afflelou - Le Figaro.

Duprey's entry into the Figaro marks the return of the monohulls to the Gitana story.

As for Gitana 11, Lemonchois' now legendary 60ft trimaran that triumphed in the Route du Rhum, she’ll be taking part in the 2007 ORMA programme culminating this autumn in the Transat Jacques Vabre. The trimaran has undergone a few modifications this winter: changes in deck layout, optimisation of the helming system and post, modification of the centreboard casing and centreboard, change of staysail chain plate, revision of the hydraulic systems, rigging and electronics, and inspection of the platform and appendices.

April this year will also offer an opportunity for members of the public to delve into the history of all the Rothschild family's Gitanas, from 0 to 13, thanks to a book to be published by Editions du Chêne retracing their lengthy history - this unique iconography will illustrate the family’s love affair with sailing spanning over a century.

Gitanas have been turning heads since 1876: from the steam schooners on the waters of Lake Leman belonging to Baroness Adolphe de Rothschild, to Baron Edmond’s monohulls and and now the multihulls of his son, Baron Benjamin de Rothschild.

The highpoint of this story occurred last autumn when Lemonchois gave the Rothschild family a superb victory in the Route du Rhum - La Banque Postale.

Gitana Team Programme for 2007:

- Gitana 11 –60’ trimaran (To be confirmed)
- Double-handed ocean race to be confirmed
- SNSM Trophy from 23 to 25 June
- Challenge at Douarnenez from 13 to 15 July
- Fastnet from 7 to 10 August
- Transat Jacques Vabre – Le Havre / Bahia: start 4 November

- Gitana 13 – 33-m catamaran
- Route de la découverte, Cadix-San Salvador: March
- Miami –New York: May

- Domaine du Mont d’Arbois – Figaro
- BPE Trophy – Belle-Ile / Marie-Galante: start 25 March
- Cap Istanbul – Marseille / Istanbul: start 26 May
- La Solitaire du Figaro: Start Caen 31 July

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