11-man crew leave San Francisco in a bid to reach Japan in record time 31/3/08

The stopwatch has started counting down aboard Gitana 13. On standby in San Francisco since 28 February, the completion date of La Route de l’Or (New York – San Francisco), the maxi-catamaran finally set off on Saturday 29 March at 22h45’45” UT, for a record attempt between San Francisco and Yokohama, Japan.

The new holders of La Route de l’Or, Lionel Lemonchois and his crew will need to make Yokohama in less than 14 days 22 hours 40 minutes and 41 seconds – the current time set by Olivier de Kersauson aboard Geronimo in April 2006.

“The crew has been slightly modified in relation to that of La Route de l’Or, since Jacques Vincent, Jean-Baptiste Epron, Cyril Dardashti Stefan Fodor and Kojiro Shiraishi are joining us. Personally, I shall have a greater involvement in the weather since the crew no longer has an appointed navigator aboard”.

The presence of the Japanese sailor Kojiro Shiraishi, who was 2nd in the Velux 5 Oceans 2006-2007, will be a considerable asset for the crew of the 33-metre catamaran, especially at the approach to the Japanese coast.

When Gitana set off on Saturday, the conditions over the Pacific forced the crew to choose a very southerly route, quite a distance from the direct course.

To follow the team’s progress, visit www.gitana-team.com .