Route du Rhum weapon

After Gitana's victory in the 2006 solo race to Point a Pitre, so skipper Yann Guichard is to field a modified ORMA 60 next year
With the sad demise of the ORMA 60 trimaran circuit, so Pen Duick, organisers of the 2010 singlehanded Route du Rhum, last year announced they were opening up the big multihull class in this race to larger boats. Already Thomas Coville has committed to competing aboard his 32m long trimaran, Sodebo. However Baron Benjamin de Rothschild’s Gitana team was keen not to be left behind. They are after all the defending champions in France’s oldest solo race when their then skipper Lionel Lemonchois demolished the opposition into Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe in the 2006 race. Since 2006, the Baron’s La Trinite-sur-Mer based team have been chomping through personnel. They parted company with Lemonchois after he had set numerous round the world record aboard the former Innovation Explorer/ Orange 1/ Kingfisher Ollier-designed maxi-cat, post Route du Rhum. Their other ORMA 60 skipper Fred le Peutrec was next out, followed this year by team boss Loick Peyron following his participation in last winter’s Vendee Globe. Man of the moment within the Gitana team is now Yann Guichard, who was fourth in the Tornado at the Sydney Olympics. This year Guichard has been skippering the team’s entry on the iShares Cup, but the team’s principle focus is on retaining the victor’s spot in the next Route du Rhum. The Baron’s collection of multihulls at present is unparalleled, comprising two ORMA 60s - Gitana 11 (ex- Belgacom) and Gitana 12 (ex- Bonduelle) and their 33m maxi-cat – but none of these was best suited to the Route du Rhum. So over the course of this year, the VPLP-designed Gitana 11 has been undergoing a transformation. She is now longer, 77ft overall - her original centre hull has been lengthened with 3m added to the bow and 1m to the stern, while her floats have been replaced and compared