Gitana 11 is preparing to start the Rolex Fastnet Race on Sunday 12 August. The skipper Lionel Lemonchois and his team of five sailors hope that the name Gitana appears again on the trophy this year.
The Fastnet is one of the most prestigious ocean races in the world, and has been organized by the Royal Ocean Racing Club since 1925. The minimum length of boats competing in the Fastnet is 9.10m (21 feet), and they can reach maximum lengths of 25m (70 feet).
The race is renowned for its particularly tricky weather conditions. The west winds that tend to prevail at this time of year can get up fast and the low pressure fronts moving in from the North Atlantic and across the British Isles can make for fast-changing conditions. The skipper who knows where the weather is coming from and how to make the best use of it often ends up winning the Fastnet.
Gitana 11 skipper Lionel Lemonchois explains the race with three days to go before the start: “It’s not really the route in itself, more the meteorological conditions that can be tricky. It looks like we’ll be heading off in 10/15 knots of west-north-west winds that will become freshening south-westerlies as we head down towards Pymouth after the Fastnet. That should make for a speedy finish which should suit Gitana 11, so that’s good. There will be 300 boats on the start line, and that’s a lot, but whatever the number of competitors, we always set out with one objective in mind – to win!”
The Gitana 11 team:
Benjamin de Rothschild - Navigator/performer
Lionel Lemonchois – Skipper
Yann Guichard - Navigator/helmsman
François Denis - Number 1
Daniel Souben - Mainsail trimmer/helmsman
Léopold Lucet - Trimmer