Gitana MOD70 skipper announced

Former Vendee Globe and Volvo Ocean Race skipper gets the gig

Monday March 7th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

In May 2010, Baron Benjamin de Rothschild announced his commitment to the new MOD 70 class by placing an order for the fourth one design of the series. Today, the Gitana Team unveils the name of the sailor who will be entrusted with the helm of this new craft: Sébastien Josse.

"The MOD 70 is a trimaran and will be a demanding, complex boat to sail," says the Baron. "So choosing a sailor who isn’t a multihull specialist might seem ambitious, but the one design rule which governs this new class, will allow the skipper’s to bring in key crew members to support him in his efforts. From a technical point of view, the races will be fought on equal terms and the human element will be the decisive factor. In this respect Sébastien Josse has great experience having spent a number of years in the Figaro circuit. In the past, he has also demonstrated his qualities as a leader, when he participated in the Volvo Ocean Race. His profile greatly appeals to us and we’re delighted he’s joining the Gitana Team.”

In terms of multihull sailing experience, Josse has less than his rivals. He comments: “Up till now my professional career has been in monohulls, even though my CV includes some multihull experience, notably the Jules Verne Trophy in 2002 or my position as bowman aboard an ORMA 60 trimaran. For the past ten years or so, it’s been one thing after another in quick succession and the opportunity to take the helm of a multihull project had never really come up before. However, it’s something I’ve wanted to do and an idea I’ve been taken with for a long time. So I viewed this new MOD 70 class with a great deal of interest, especially as it’s destined for crewed racing in one designs, which opens up the playing field for a non-specialist like me.

"This project is a real challenge for me, a fresh start. I’m going to have to work hard against some formidable adversaries such as Michel Desjoyeaux, Stève Ravussin and Roland Jourdain. And that’s exactly why I’m here. The fact that the MOD 70 and its circuit are designed for crewed racing reassures me will enable me to learn more quickly.

“Baron and Baroness Benjamin de Rothschild have demonstrated great trust in handing me the helm of Gitana’s MOD 70. I’m incredibly lucky and highly honoured to be in this position and I’m immensely grateful to them. My first memory of a Gitana dates back to the 90s, a time when I was crewing aboard a Swan for the Nioulargue (now known as Les Voiles de Saint Tropez), and I watched Gitana 6 with admiration. To be part of the Gitana Team is also synonymous with entering the fantastic Gitana dynasty and that’s no small matter…”


As he awaits delivery of the Gitana one design, scheduled for the end of October 2011, Josse will be able to train on the team's modified ORMA 60 trimaran Gitana 11, whose platform is very similar to the MOD 70. Aboard this, Josee will be able to find his feet as a multihull sailor and start recruiting crew to accompany him on this new adventure.

Josse, 35, began his professional sailing career in 1997 by winning the Challenge Espoir Crédit Agricole, the scholarship program for the Figaro class.

A native of Nice, Sébastien then left Mediterranean shores to relocate on the Atlantic coast in order to progress in the Figaro class, whose stronghold is in Port-la-Forêt, Finistere. Soon Josse was emulating the performances of some of the best in the class and finished second in the Solitaire du Figaro in 2001.

From then on, one thing very quickly led to another. The following year, he set a new Jules Verne Trophy record as part of Bruno Peyron's crew aboard the Orange maxi-catamaran. Back on shore just a matter of weeks after this, he was announced as skipper of the Open 60 VMI. In this he finished fifth in the 2004-2005 Vendée Globe, his sturdy character and iron will capturing the attention of both the general public and his peers.

As it had been after the end of the Jules Verne Trophy, so a new offer was awaited Josse on his return from the Vendée Globe - to skipper ABN AMRO Two in the Volvo Ocean Race. This challenge was sizeable as no Frenchman since Eric Tabarly had been held such a position. On the Volvo Josse's team of under 30s put up a creditable performance finishing fourth overall.

In 2008, Josse returned to the Vendée Globe with the English racing stable, Offshore Challenges sailing BT. However his second Vendée didn’t result in the same success and, while at the front of the fleet, Josse was forced to retire after 48 days of racing.

Most recently Josse has been sailing as part of Groupama's new Volvo Ocean Race team.


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