Gitana, a daring company devoted to a passion

News - 11/7/2016

The Vendée Globe 2016-2017 has officially started and the Gitana Team is preparing to make history. This adventure is rooted in a passion, dating back more than 140 years, between sailing and the Rothschild family and by extension, the Edmond de Rothschild Group.

Passion alone, however, does not single-handedly explain the success and longevity of the team. The Gitana Team is a structured, innovative company, bringing together high-level experts to achieve a specific goal: long-term performance. . 

Long lasting commitment

In 2000, Benjamin de Rothschild decided to create the Gitana Team and participate in the ORMA multihull competitions circuit, purchasing the ex-Elf Aquitaine III and renaming it Gitana 9. The goal was to continue the family passion for sailing by competing in high-level races. Today, Gitana 16 is waiting at the starting line of the Vendée Globe, the only round-the-world solo race, sailed non-stop and without assistance. The last 16 years have been the culmination of experiences that every long-term company lives, including moments of intense joy interspersed with challenges which are overcome with an iron will and brilliant experts working towards a common goal.

Il est arrivé !

Innovation: taking controlled risks to improve performance 

The arrival of hydrofoils completely transformed the sailing world. As a result, traditional boats, built on principles so well established they were seemingly definitive, now had to share the world’s oceans with new flying ships. Our Group was one of the first investors in the sailing world to embrace this major change; we took a risk, encouraged by the desire for Edmond de Rothschild to be victorious in the years to come.

And so Gitana 16 was born, as the proud result of a significant collaborative effort to sail in the Vendée Globe 2016-2017. The collective knowledge of our experts brought to life the master plans for the boat, as well as its move and as a result, its performance.

Not only does the boat proudly display the second generation of hydrofoils, the hull has an extremely large stem and very flat lines, making the boat more powerful. The mast, outriggers and overall structure are set back 80 centimetres compared to the previous 60 feet, which lifts the stem and improves the boat's performance based on wind direction.

"I had to forget all my reflexes and start from scratch."

 These changes widened the gap even further between this boat and earlier models. So much so that our skipper Sébastien Josse said, “I had to forget all my reflexes and start from scratch.”

Technological advances had changed so many traditional sailing principles that the team had to get their bearings within this new environment. This was reflected in the Gitana Team's move to the racing port of Lorient at the end of 2011. The move allowed the team to optimise the organization of the boat and change working habits, all within a more efficient and stimulating environment where nothing is left to chance.

Boats and people: an ideal managerial model 

The entire saga wouldn't be possible without the hard work of 25 men and women whose skills and knowledge made the project a success. Cyril Dardashti, General Manager of the Gitana Team, knows better than anyone how these experts work together: “We have every area of expertise on the Gitana Team – architecture, engineering, composite materials, hydraulics, rigging, outfitting, on-board electronics and computing – and each trade is a vital link in the chain.”

Managing a team that is working on a sporting project comes with very specific rules. Everyone must work towards the final goal: to appear on the podium and take on new challenges. However, the results of a sporting event are never instantaneous. The team must take a long-term approach, coming together to optimise tactical decisions and technological innovations every step of the way.

"A legacy can only survive if it is shaken up by each generation."
Ariane de Rothschild - Chairwoman of the Group Executive Committee


This working philosophy combines boldness, long-term vision and the ongoing quest for performance, which is exactly what Edmond de Rothschild Group does in every aspect of its business. “I always tell my teams: if you don't want to outdo yourself every day, don't bother showing up! A legacy can only survive if it is shaken up by each generation. The Rothschild name has lasted for seven generations because the family knew how to foresee and take risks,” says Ariane de Rothschild.