For the members of Gitana Team, who have stepped things up another gear again, they're into their last month of build and suffice to say that given the scale of the manufacture time required by this large, latest generation, offshore trimaran, these few weeks seem like a mere drop in the ocean.
The final pieces of the puzzle
It is always the way with build projects, whatever the size of boat! In the last few weeks, activity has doubled in intensity and all the different trades are working in unison, in what are cramped spaces at times, to bring the carbon skeleton to life and put their finishing touches to the work. As such, it is only natural then that the yard's west wing, in which the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild has been assembled, is a hive of activity.
Pierre Tissier, Technical Director of the Gitana Team, is one of the leaders of this organisation. He forms the day-to-day link between the team, the design office and the various suppliers and key protagonists of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild project to ensure not just the quality of the build but also that everything is perfectly on track in terms of the schedule:
“Everything is slotting into place here and we're bang on schedule. There are still a few unknown quantities regarding certain machined parts but if everything goes smoothly, we'll hit the water on 17 July! The deck hardware is in place, the electronics are nearing completion and we'll soon be able to launch into installing the trampolines. That will be the scenario from next week once the painting of the floats is complete. The entire hydraulics installation is running parallel to that as we had to wait for the end of the platform composites for this element. The mast and the boom are currently equipped in Lorient at Lorima. The manufacture of the appendages has been outsourced — Re Fraschini in Italy for the foils, C3 technologies in La Rochelle for the rudders and floats and Heol Composites for the daggerboard — and they will really be the final pieces to make up the puzzle in the very last days of the build process.”
Sticking to deadlines, a first challenge
The construction of such a prototype craft like the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is a genuine technological and human challenge, both in terms of its technical complexity and through the grouping together of the skills required by the project. “With one month to go until the launch, there is inevitably a mixture of impatience and apprehension! This Maxi Edmond de Rothschild project began to form in our minds in 2013 and within a few days, weeks, she'll be in the water. Her exit from the yard is only the first step, but it will definitely be a very intense moment for the owners of the boat and for all the people who have worked closely on the project. In all, from the studies to the construction of the large pieces of the platform and also the appendages and the sails, there have been over 250 of us working on the boat; it's a significant number, which requires perfect organisation to ensure we stick to our plan.
"As with any full-on event, the last few kilometres require even greater effort and energy."
Since the start of the story, we've been wanting to launch in the summer of 2017 so we can participate in the first major race of the autumn,” explains Cyril Dardashti, Director of the Gitana Team. “The boat we'll be launching in a few weeks' time has a series of genuine new features and technological innovations, things which have never been done on this scale before. The whole team is doing an incredible job being in line with the initial schedule. This construction is reminiscent of an Ironman. A twenty-month build is long and difficult and as with any full-on event, the last few kilometres require even greater effort and energy. Together with Pierre Tissier, we're here to make the team feel confident about the job in hand so that each member of the team manages to transcend his or herself down this home straight.”
Maxi Edmond de Rothschild
Transat Jacques Vabre in the line of sight
Over these past few weeks, Sébastien Josse has been making a series of trips to meet with the shore team and the Gitana design office working in Vannes. Like everyone else, Sébastien Josse cannot hide his eagerness to get going: “Naturally, I'm keen for this phase of the build to be complete and for the sailing one to begin, but these last few weeks are a good transition between the two as the installation of the systems and the proper fitting out of the cockpit is the first stage in the handover between the technical team and the sailors. Right now, things are moving very quickly at the yard and each day the boat is evolving, is different. The composites are behind us and inevitably we're entering a more concrete stage: the deck hardware is in position, the electric cables have been run through and the electronics put in place… In the run-up, we've been able to work on the organisation of the cockpit thanks to a scale model made of wood. It's a fantastic tool for roughly working out the position of the pit, the winches or the pedestals, but you don't get down to all the finer details with that. That's how it is in the last months of a build and it's a joint work with the team, which requires my daily input to express my desires about how things work. The Maxi is taking shape and in less than a month we'll be in the water!”
Before the big plunge and the prospect of the first tacks, Sébastien Josse and Thomas Rouxel, who will be teaming up for the first time, double-handed, in the Transat Jacques Vabre, are really making the most of this period to ‘hone their physiques': “Physical preparation will be crucial on this boat, not necessarily for making her go very fast or for shifting considerable weights, but to avoid injury. The change of scale is no trivial matter and whatever happens, it cannot just be down to physical strength. For example, the weight of the sails is such that when sailing double-handed, you have to find clever ways to do things and above all train for the longer manoeuvring times… and for that physical fitness is obligatory! Together with Thomas (Rouxel), we've been taking part in daily, targeted sessions with a physical trainer for everything relating to toning and muscle strengthening and we're also racking up a series of outdoor sessions for everything related to cardiovascular exercise with mountain bikes, running and surfing… so even though the boat's not yet at sea, our work for the Transat Jacques Vabre began several months ago of course.”
See you on 17 July in Vannes for the launch of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild!
The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild in figures
40people on average over the 20-month build
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