Thursday, 28 April 2011

MOD70: From Gitana 11 to the MOD 70 Edmond de Rothschild Group

Gitana 11. Image copyright AFP.

by Kate Jennings (in translation)

Last week was a rich onefor the skipper of the future MOD 70 Edmond de Rothschild Group. On Monday,Gitana 11, the stable’s maxi-trimaran, left the Saint-Philibert hangars bound for the old submarine base in Lorient, which she safely arrived at forty-eight hours later. This launch and first sea trial heralded the start of the crewed racing programme for the 2011 season. As soon as the 77 foot multihull was tied up, Sébastien Josse headed to Paris for the press conference to launch the Krys Ocean Race. Indeed it was on Thursday 21 April, that organisers MOD SA, officially announced the name, the dates and the course for the first transatlantic of the Multi One Design Championship.

The MOD 70, it’s a reality

After the launch and christening of the first one-design of the series in Lorient at the end of March, organisers MOD SA are continuing to make the Multi OneDesign project a reality. Last Thursday they announced the outlines of thefirst Ocean Race of the Krys Ocean Race circuit at the “Elysées Biarritz” cinema venue in Paris. It’s a crewed transatlantic race which adopts an historic course: New York – Brest, which equates to a 2,950 mile passage across the North Atlantic. The fleet of MOD 70s, which should comprise the first six multihulls by then, will set off from the foot of the Statue of Liberty on 7 July 2012 bound for Brest, where they are due to finish a week later. This arrival will coincide with the start of the famous maritime festival, the Tonnerres de Brest, which has gathered together old, primarily European sailboats, large and small alike, every four years for the past twenty years.

At the end of this presentation, Sébastien Josse gave us his impressions of this first race and its prestigious setting: "Eastbound transatlantics are rare in fleet racing. The course on offer to us is fairly reminiscent of the North Atlantic crossing record. I’ve never been involved in this famous race against the clock but the route certainly isn’t unfamiliar to me. During my participationin the Volvo Ocean Race, back in 2006, we had a New York – Plymouth stage. As such I’ve already had the opportunity to sail at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, whilst we were moored in Manhattan. It was magical and I have an incredible memory of it. The race itself promises to be demanding as the route us takes via Newfoundlandand its characteristic banks of mist. During this period, we can also expect to negotiate some depressions. In fact it coincides with the prime time for record hunters to set off. After that we finish the race in Brest whilst the maritime festival is in full swing, so we can be guaranteed of a warm, festive welcome on our arrival, as it’s something the locals of Brest are well practiced in,” concluded the skipper of the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group.

The first MOD70, Race for Water. Image copyright Yvan Zedda/

Though the Gitana Team will have to wait for a few months before taking possession of its one-design, the No.4 to be precise, Sébastien Josse and his team have no intention of sitting idly by. Indeed they have the fantastic machine that is the Gitana 11 at their fingertips, so they can take the start of the various crewed races open to maxi-multihulls.

Gitana 11, a natural link to the MOD 70

Winner of the Route du Rhum 2006 in the 60 foot Orma category, Gitana 11 was transformed into a 77 foot maxi-trimaran to participate in the last edition of the famous transatlantic between Saint Malo and Pointe-à-Pitre, which had been reopened to the G Class sailboats. With a very similar platformto the future MOD 70, Gitana 11 is the perfect craft for Sébastien Josse to find his bearings in the multihull as well as to select and train the crew, who will accompany him in the Multi One Design adventure. On 7 May 2011, the maxi-trimaran fitted out by the Baron Benjamin de Rothschild will take part in the Tour de Belle-Île; a race where amateurs and professionals rub shoulders at the heart of a fleet of over three hundred sailboats.
[Note from SailRaceWin: There are currently 382 entries for the 2011 Tour de Belle-Ile, and time for that number to exceed 400 by race day!]

A month after this first official outing, the native of Nice will set off, still in crewed configuration, on the Armen Race and then the SNSM Record (RNLI equivalent). The Armen Race is a brand new race which will consist of a big loop circuit starting out and finishing in La Trinité-sur-Mer, SW Brittany, after rounding the Ar Men lighthouse situated to the West of the Pointe du Raz and the Ile d’Yeu, off the Vendée coast. The SNSM record meantime no longer needs an introduction. Finally, in mid-August, Gitana 11 will take the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race. This classic of Offshore Racing, the first edition of which took place in 1925, is very familiar to Sébastien Josse, who’s won it three times in an Imoca monohull. Also of note is the fact that Gitana V held the Fastnet record for nearly nineteen years.

This 2011 programme, along the theme of crewed sailing, contrasts with the past two years of sailing on Gitana 11, which was devoted to solo sailing with a view to preparing for the Route du Rhum. However, it’s a fabulous link between the past and the future of the Gitana Team.

The year ahead for the Gitana 11 crew

7 May: Tour de Belle-Ile
2-5 June: Armen Race setting off from La Trinité-sur-Mer
19-21 June: SNSM Record setting off from Saint Nazaire
14 August: Rolex Fastnet Race setting off from Cowes(Isle of Wight)

Multi One Design Championship 2011-2014

The first MOD70, Race for Water. Image copyright Yvan Zedda/

Krys Match (Exhibition with the first one-designs) 6-8 October 2011
Krys Ocean Race (New York– Brest) Start on 7 July 2012
Tour of Europe crewed configuration September 2012
(6 to 8 stages)
Tour of Europe crewed configuration June 2013
(6 to 8 stages, objective of eight boats)
Round the World crewed configuration October 2013 - April 2014
(5 to 6 stages, 5 oceans, objective of twelve boats)
Oceanic race crewed configuration August 2014

Gitana Team