Gitana licking her wounds
You will recall that Gitana had not sailed much at all before the start of the Route du Rhum. She had clocked up just 3000 miles (5600 km) which meant that many of the design and technical options were not fully tested. One of them – the narrow chord monolithic mast – was the reason for her retirement from the transatlantic race, yet by coincidence it is one of the solutions being identified as a possible safety option for the future of the clas.
Gitana's mast has to be replaced, but the final decision of the configuration of the new spar will be made in the very beginning of January 2003, after the General Meeting of the ORMA. Currently there is much discussion between skippers, organisers, architects, engineers, builders and of course owners, with a view to developing the rules which govern their sport. This has been deemed necessary as the fleet has never been so large and given the increasingly high level of competition..
Meanwhile the Gitana Team has started a big programme concentrated on the boat's appendages (daggerboard, rudders, foils) under the eye of a new member of the team, engineer, Hughes de Turckheim. As for the sails, Nicolas Berthoud is working on improving the wardrobe and in making new sails. Gitana should be re-launched no later than the end of March 2003, in order to be ready for the new season.
Next year's ORMA Championship will kick off with an Atlantic Grand Prix, it will continue in May with the Challenge Mondial Assistance, a crewed race round Europe, covering some 2750 miles (5100 km) between Cherbourg and Rimini on Italy’s Adriatic coast.
Then two other Grands Prix will be run in the Mediterranean (Sardinia and Marseille) in June/July before heading up to the Channel for the Fécamp Grand Prix in September, and the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre in Le Havre in the month of November. A two-handed transatlantic race, the Jacques Vabre takes competitors over to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil after a 5300 mile (9800 km) long course via Ascension Island in the South Atlantic.