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Gitana and Sébastien Josse: the collaboration draws to a close

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Rou Pikes Gitana. Yann Riou / Polaryse / Gitana SA

After eight seasons, which prompted the creation of some fantastic craft like the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild, the eponymous Imoca 60, not to mention the most recent addition to the fleet, the flying Maxi Gitana 17, the owners of Gitana Team and skipper Sébastien Josse have announced the end of their collaboration initiated in 2011.

Recruited back in 2011, Sébastien Josse cut his teeth in the multihull world, benefiting from the most high-performance platforms of the day. Considered to be one of France’s top monohull specialists, with several circumnavigations of the globe to his credit including the Vendée Globe and the Volvo Ocean Race, the sailor made no secret of how lucky he had been to get the opportunity to experience different types of boat.

Working alongside the members of Gitana Team for eight years, the sailor racked up a number of seasons and competitions in crewed, double-handed and singlehanded configuration and contributed to Gitana’s incredible track record including: Multi70 victory in the Tour de l’Europe and the Transat Jacques Vabre 2013, 3rd place in the Route du Rhum 2014, the Vendée Globe adventure and the first foray on the giant Gitana 17.

Ariane de Rothschild thanks Sébastien Josse for the eight years spent working together. The five-arrow team is keen to embark on a new, ambitious offshore campaign based around a singlehanded round the world race. (The new date for this event will be announced in the coming weeks).

The optimisation of a giant

Launched in July 2017 after a build period lasting over a year and a half and requiring 170,000 man-hours, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild was the first large offshore multihull devised and designed to fly on the open sea. The pioneer of a new generation, this 32-metre Verdier design has led the way.

After a promising 2nd place in the Transat Jacques Vabre 2017, just months after leaving the yard, Gitana 17 was forced to retire from the last Route du Rhum, after suffering bow damage to her starboard float having ranked as one of the firm favourites in this anniversary edition. Since that time, the Maxi has been in refit at the team’s base in Lorient, south-west Brittany. Alongside the project’s naval architects and engineers, Gitana Team has carried out a number of investigations to gain a better understanding of the causes behind the breakage and find solutions.

Repairs to the damaged float are now underway, as is the optimisation work previously scheduled for the winter refit. The latest addition to the Gitana fleet is due to be relaunched in early May.

“The Ultimes are extraordinary machines, which are driving us all to push the envelope, whether it be on a competitive or technical level. The advances made with this new generation of multihulls are a reflection of this... To be a pioneer is about preparing the way forward and this journey inevitably involves a number of unknown elements, which we must accept in order to make progress. Success is a gradual process. To support us in this major technological challenge, I believe we’ve surrounded ourselves with the best people and, crucially, we’ve made sure that they are extremely motivated to work towards the common goal of developing a revolutionary boat. Together with the boat’s owners, we’re convinced we’re on the right track, and we’re where we wanted to be in any case, but these things take time. Every time the Maxi gets out on the water is a step in the right direction. Since her launch, we’ve taken some giant leaps forward and there’s still a huge amount to learn” explains Cyril Dardashti, director of the racing stable.

Gitana joins the collective

Since the start of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild project, innovation has been uppermost in all the technical and architectural choices. Thanks to the unfailing support and the willingness of Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild and the teams they manage within their Group to undertake this journey, the members of Gitana have been able to design and build a remarkable multihull, which contrasts sharply with its predecessors and is opening up a whole new era. Today, the lessons learned by the five-arrow team since the Maxi’s launch deserve to be shared to help the whole industry make progress. Indeed, in light of recent events within the Ultime class** and despite the differences in opinion regarding some of the technical elements such as the use of servo-controls, it seems important henceforth for Gitana and Edmond de Rothschild to join the four other founder owners, Sodebo, Macif, Actual and Banque Populaire, in any key decisions in the future.

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