A lot of news out of the team backed by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild yesterday, including the annoucement that Loïck Peyron, skipper of IMOCA 60, Gitana Eighty, will leave the team. The focus of the team will switch from monohulls to multihulls.
In a statement the team says that after over nine years on the offshore racing circuit, Baron Benjamin de Rothschild and the Group he presides over are still backing sailing by committing to a new circuit – the iShares Cup – and by starting on modifications to Gitana 11 alongside the members of Gitana Team:
‘In a banking world where the multinationals are thriving, our own establishment, whilst continuing to progress, has been keeping to its original philosophy and remains a human size enterprise. I wish for it to be the same within the Gitana Team. Sailing is a family passion, a story of love and conviction. My forefathers sailed on Lake Geneva, my father specialized in monohulls, and me in multihulls some years later.
These boats have always fascinated me. They are incredibly elegant and the gliding sensations you get from them are something else. However, beyond this enthusiasm, our commitment is based on a desire to pass things on and be innovative. As such, our arrival on a new circuit, the work initiated on one of our fleet’s flagships and the desire to provide a young talented sailor with the opportunity to flourish, all fall within the scope of this lineage.’
In 2009, the Gitana Team will participate in the European circuit of the iShares Cup.
Launched in 2007, this circuit has attracted a host of international teams, and the French have also shown an interest in the event. Indeed the Groupama team has already announced its participation this season and other compatriots may well imitate them. Racing with four crew, the Extreme 40 races are aimed at enabling the public to witness the nautical jousts close up by favouring race zones which are close to the shore and, where possible, at the very heart of the chosen towns.
The Extreme 40 circuit combines the clever mixture of sport and spectacle, which proved to be a tremendous success for the owner of Gitana Team during the multihull Grand Prix circuit.
Yann Guichard, a regular in the Gitana Team since 2004, is joining the stable’s ranks as a skipper-helm aboard the Extreme 40 Gitana. This young 34 year old sailor is just as much at ease racing around the cans, as a result of his Olympic career, as he is sailing offshore using his transatlantic experience. As such he will now have to show what he’s made of on this new medium, which is tailor-made for his talent. Indeed, it’s worth remembering that Yann Guichard is a grand specialist on these sports catamarans as his three Olympic preparations on the Tornado, as well as his fourth place in the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000 bear witness.