All photos © Mark Lloyd / Route des Princes
Route des Princes in port races at Plymouth
Sébastien Josse’s Edmond de Rothschild again proved to be the best Routes des Princes MOD70 inshore team around the short courses off Plymouth Sound on Friday but their advantage was much less obvious than it was in Valencia and Lisbon where they won both regattas.
In slightly fickle, shifty westerly breeze of between 9 and 21 knots Edmond de Rothschild did win two of the three short course races which were contested outside the breakwater, but they had to work hard for their wins. The team which have won in both Valencia and Lisbon had their hallmark consistency compromised when they tore their gennaker in Race 2 which resulted in their third place finish.
With the high ground of a headland directly upwind of the course area the wind split, different flanks of the course paying a dividend to no regular pattern. But in terms of making fewest mistakes and making the best decisions more often than not, it was Edmond de Rothschild – the only MOD70 team to take a specialist tactician for the inshore races in Sébastien Col – which did enough to finish at the top of the Plymouth inshore regatta standings.
In the first race Jean-Pierre Dick’s Virbac-Paprec 70 made the best first downwind to lead up the first beat. They looked to have extended enough to win, but they misjudged their angle to the top mark for the final time and let Edmond de Rothshchild slide round the final buoy to steal victory. In the second contest Virbac-Paprec 70 made no such mistakes and were able to win ahead of Oman Air-Musandam with the hobbled Edmond de Rothschild left to third.
The wind peaked at 21 knots prior to the third race which made sail selection tricky but the wind died right away to confound such decisions. Col and Josse made the right choice when they took Edmond de Rothschild into a gybe-set to move down the left side of the first run where they found the best pressure and wind angle. That was firm foundations for their second win of the day on a race course area which skipper-helm Josse described as ‘very tricky’.
On 26pts for their two wins and a third place Edmond de Rothschild lead the Plymouth series by two points ahead of Virbac-Paprec 70 with Sidney Gavignet’s Oman Air-Musandam third four points behind the leaders.
Saturday’s racing starts at 1115hrs local time with up to three races.
The Route des Princes decider for both the Multi 50’s and the MOD70’s will be the last offshore stage to Morlaix which starts at 2000hrs. For the MOD70’s the course is due to go to Wolf Rock off Land’s End and then to a mark Basse Portsall near Ushant, a course distance of 198 miles. The Multi50’s head to Wolf Rock also and then to Aman ar Ross mark, a distance of 186 miles. Both classes are offered one bonus point at Wolf Rock for the leader on a race which carries a multiplier of 1.5pts.
As it stands just now if Edmond de Rothschild win the inshore series here they would only need to win the bonus point or the race to be sure of winning overall.
Plymouth Inshore Series: (after 3 races)
1- Sébastien Josse, FRA, Edmond de Rothschild (1,3,1) 26pts 2- Jean-Pierre Dick, FRA, Virbac-Paprec 70 (1,2,3) 24pts 3- Sidney Gavignet, OMA, Oman Air-Musandam (3,2,2) 22pts
By Route des Princes, www.routedesprinces.com
Photo © Rodrigo Moreira Rato / Route des Princes
Route des Princes Leg 3 Finish
After winning two of the three offshore legs sailed so far on the Routes des Princes multihull race around Europe, Sidney Gavignet’s Oman Air-Musandam now lead the overall MOD70 standings by the smallest possible margin. With only Friday and Saturday’s inshore race series and the last offshore sprint to Morlaix-France still to be raced, they top the table only on tie break.
Oman Air-Musandam slid across the finish line on Plymouth Sound at 18h 53m 06s local time on a glorious sunny Wednesday evening, then threaded their way through the local sailing fleets engaged in their club racing, the international crew drained but contented after a nerve shredding, intense leg from Dun Laoghaire, Ireland which started on Monday morning.
They finished just 15 minutes and 27 seconds ahead of second placed Edmond de Rothschild, breaking the finish line 2 days 7 hours 53 minutes and 6 seconds after starting in Dun Laoghaire.
Third MOD70 to finish was Jean-Pierre Dick’s Virbac-Paprec 70 at 19h 45m 56s local time, 53 minutes and 50 seconds after the leg winner.
Oman Air-Musandam had initially lost out on the fast downwind slide to the first points scoring opportunity at Wales’ Bardsey Island, but then made initial gains when they held inshore at Tuskar Rock, off Wexford, cheating the adverse tidal currents but running something of a risk as the winds close to the land were, they felt, lighter than offshore.
But they got the equation right and were able to eke out a small lead on the SE and South Irish coast, leading around Fastnet Rock.
Although they all but left their two MOD70 rivals standing after Fastnet Rock, stretching out to lead by a substantial 47 miles at one stage, it was always expected that the breezes would die off again before Bishop Rock at the Scilly Isles.
But when it did, suddenly, the MOD 70 dropping from 30kts boat speed to one knot over a 30 minutes period, and their main rival Sébastien Josse’s Edmond de Rothschild crew, then reached up to them at speed, the Oman Air-Musandam still held their nerves and their focus when the re-start happened, crept away again to win the two vital bonus points at Bishop Rock.
Oman Air-Musandam won the first leg from Valencia to Lisbon thanks to an early breakaway move, but finished third, 33 seconds behind second placed Edmond de Rothschild into Dun Laoghaire. Skipper Gavignet admitted that they had learned from their disappointing final miles into Dublin Bay when they lost out by 33 seconds to Josse’s crew.
“We kept fighting and we made it.” Said Gavignet, “Thinking about the end of the last leg we were more vigilant this time”.
For a team which purports to have no specialist navigator, skipper Gavignet and offshore ace Neal McDonald combining their thinking to devise their key strategies, Oman Air-Musandam have established a very strong record offshore. Of the offshore points scoring opportunities, it is only at Bardsey Island that they have not taken the points as leg leaders.
“Sidney and Neal have done a great job at putting us in the right place, they work well together on strategy with clear ideas.” Explains Damian Foxall, ” The situation can change very quickly and literally in 5 to 10 minutes you can miss a breeze and find yourself in something totally different. We end up looking at the big picture to see not where the wind is now but where it is going to be in three or four hours and what is the low risk option, what are the advantages and potential losses and I think we are doing that well.”
Overall Standings after Leg 3:
1- Oman Air-Musandam, 126pts
2- Edmond de Rothschild, 126pts
3- Spindrift, 122pts
4- Virbac Paprec 70, 98pts
By Route des Princes, www.routedesprinces.com
Photo © Marcel Mochet / Route des Princes
Route des Princes – Leg 3 Start
Heading to Plymouth, one of England’s most historic ocean racing centres, the Routes des Princes fleet of eight grand prix multihulls left from Dun Laoghaire, Dublin Bay at 1100hrs on Monday morning. For the teams the return to perfect sunshine with only moderate winds at start time proved an ironic change from the blustery, chilly gales which prevented any of the planned inshore racing being completed over the weekend.
When they left the National YC dock in the morning they were leaving race leader Spindrift tied forlornly to the pontoon. Plans to dive to recover the rig – broken when they capsized on Saturday – sails and standing rigging are well advanced, weather dependent.
On the initial, short 7.2 miles circuit before leaving Dublin Bay it was Virbac-Paprec 70 and FenêtréA-Cardinal which took command of the MOD70 and Multi 50 classes respectively, but this penultimate offshore leg to Plymouth promises to be very tactical, peppered with several zones of stop-start sailing. Once more a close finish, in light winds, is anticipated by the MOD70 skippers. As well as the sunshine and very light winds, there will be rain clouds at times, thick fog banks and strong tidal currents along the south coast of England, all providing different challenges or opportunities for the teams.
Leg 2 from Lisbon to Dun Laoghaire, Ireland was notable for successive opportunities for crews to claw back miles when the leaders slowed into light winds first, and on Leg 3, even more of this compression and even re-starts are anticipated.
The Multi50 course has been shortened to 345 miles by eliminating Fastnet Rock from the route which was originally planned for them. For the MOD70’s it will be at least 514 miles to Eddystone Rocks off Plymouth via Fastnet and Bishop Rock where the final marks will be detailed to the MOD70 teams.
All were heading SE this afternoon, working downwind in a fading NW’ly breeze towards Bardsey Island, which lies about 2 miles off the tip of Wales’ Llyn Peninsula. That is the first of the two marks where bonus points are awarded to the class leaders, the second being at Bishop Rock by the Scillies.
First to Bardsey Island was the Ultime 80 of Lionel Lemonchois Prince de Bretagne at 14H25 TU followed by Edmond de Rothshcild taking the two points as first MOD70 at 14h32 UTC.
“We made the decision to shorten the course for the Multi50’s due to the very light weather conditions forecast in the Irish Sea in the next 24 hours. Thus, instead of racing the 514 miles originally planned, they will do 345 “said Sylvie Viant, the Race Director.
For the MOD70’s and Prince de Bretagne the 195 miles section from Bardsey to Fastnet will start mainly upwind into a veering breeze but by the rock they will enter a confused area marking the centre of a low pressure cell. Out of the Fastnet on the course to Bishop Rock there might be the chance for a sudden gain for whichever boat manages to escape first into a W’ly pressure flow but this will die off before the Scillies.
The entire fleet should meet up at Bishop Rock lighthouse where winds will be very light, just 4-5kts at times and then racing on towards Eddystone light and Plymouth where the final finish of the race is expected on Wednesday afternoon. The tidal coefficients are high – between 100 and 105 which means currents might be up to 5-6 knots, and fog banks – especially off the Scillies and into the western English Channel.
The forecast light winds will be ideal for the Route des Princes offshore debut of 20 year old Omani Ahmed Al Hassani. The Oman Sail trainee is delighted at the prospect of building his offshore experience.
Skipper Sidney Gavignet said:
“It will be great to have Ahmed sailing with us – he is very excited. He does not like big winds because he gets seasick but for this next leg, it looks like it is going to be light so since this will be his first time offshore, it should be good for him. We will all be focusing on sailing consistently and well to make back the points and move up the ranking.”
Standings: (at 1400hrs UTC Monday)
1- Actual, Yves Le Blevec
2- Rennes Métropole – Saint Malo Agglomération, Gilles Lamiré, +7.60 miles to leader
3- FenêtréA – Cardinal, Erwan Le Roux, + 8.61 miles to leader
4- Arkéma – Region Aquitaine, Lalou Roucayrol +16.10 miles to leader
1- Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse
2- Virbac – Paprec 70, Jean-Pierre Dick, + 1.32 miles to leader
3- Oman Air – Musandam, Sidney Gavignet, + 1.64 miles to leader
4- ABD – Spindrift Yann Guichard
For current positions see: www.routesdesprinces.com
All photos c Mark Lloyd – Lloyd Images
Routes des Princes inshore race at Dun Laoghaire
At 1434hrs local time (Dublin) this afternoon Routes des Princes race leader Spindrift skippered and steered by Yann Guichard (FRA) capsized on the first leg of the first inshore race of the day off Dun Laoghaire.
The emergency procedures were activated immediately. All crew were accounted for. One casualty was evacuated to hospital.
The process of recovering the upturned 70 foot trimaran is under way.
At the time of the capsize, the weather conditions on the water were 20 knots with stronger gusts.
More details available on www.routesdesprinces.com
Photo c Seaclear Communications
Route des Princes – Leg 2 finish in Dun Laoghaire
Crossing the line at 05:37 hrs (local time Dublin) Spindrift won the 990 miles stage which started from Lisbon on Sunday afternoon, adding 40 race points to the 2 bonus points that they landed at the Cascais scoring mark Sunday evening. Now the current 2012 MOD70 class champions top the Route des Princes leaderboard by six points from Sébastien Josse’s crew on Edmond de Rothschild.
Dun Laoghaire’s Dublin Bay finish lived up to its reputation among the MOD70 class for delivering cliffhanger finishes. Although Spindrift had a mile in hand with three to go, some of that margin was ultimately eroded by the intense duel behind but they slipped across the line to win by six minutes and 44 seconds.
From third place when they had a deficit of two miles behind last night’s leader Oman Air-Musandam, Edmond de Rothschild, Seb Josse’s team glided through to steal second across the line by just one single boat length – 33 seconds to be exact after 2 days and 15 hours of racing.
Just seven minutes and 17 seconds separated first from third.
For Oman Air-Musandam’s Damian Foxall, Ireland’s top ocean racer, it was not to be the fairytale homecoming for which a plotline seemed to be falling into place yesterday morning when Oman Air-Musandam lead around Fastnet Rock, just ahead of Spindrift racing.
The fleet compressed in lighter winds after the famous rock and, on the dock at the National YC this morning, Foxall admitted this morning that they perhaps lost some small distance when they stood too far out into the adverse current at Tuskar Rock – Ireland’s SE corner between Cork and Wexford – while their rivals stayed inshore.
For Yann Guichard’s ferociously consistent team, which races under the European flag, the triumph marks their first win of this month long tour which takes the grand prix multihulls from Valencia in Mediterranean Spain to Morlaix, France via stops in Lisbon, Dun Laoghaire and Plymouth.
Spindrift finished second in the inshore regatta series in both Valencia and Lisbon and were also runners up on the first offshore Leg 1 from Valencia to Lisbon.
Guichard, who has more than 20 years of multihull racing including a fourth place finish in the Tornado at the 2000 Olympic games, attributes a lot of their success to date down to good all round speed.
“The differences are very small but I think we are fast, we are always focused on the speed of the boat. It was really good from the start to the finish.” Smiled Guichard who, to some degree exorcised memories of a MOD70 finish into here a year ago when they lost out on victory in the final metres to the line.
“It feels really good to win coming in here. We were so pleased to cross the line and win because it was so tough with the other guys. I am happy for us as a team. It was close between us before Cork, downwind with so many gybes to control the other competitors and just after that we just took the lead and since then we just kept the lead to the finish. The wind was very unstable and we were always expecting the northerly wind during this morning and when it went ahead this morning we were OK.”
It proved to be a leg which was certainly richer in strategic and tactical options than the first stage. The transition of a low pressure system on the entrance to the Bay of Biscay required precision timing but all four MOD70’s emerged virtually within sight of each other with fast downwind sailing at speeds of up to 30 knots. On the beat up to Fastnet Rock Sidney Gavignet’s team on Oman Air-Musandam built a small lead again by holding west to use the more favourable current and gain the left hand shift first, but in the reaching and then beating scrap up the east coast last night, the combination of strategy by Spindrift’s excellent navigator Pascal Bidégorry – the only specialist navigator to have remained with the same team since last year – and sheer speed seems to have combined as the winning edge. Oman Air-Musandam’s Foxall and skipper Gavignet both confirmed this morning that they felt that Edmond de Rothschild have a superior speed mode in the light to moderate conditions.
“Edmond de Rothschild were pretty far back” recalled a drained looking Gavignet, “And I think we just went into the wind range where they are pretty good. They have a powerful mainsail and could fly the hull and we were a bit stuck. But probably we stayed in Spindrift’s shadow for too long and Edmond de Rothschild got back to us. But we kept fighting all the way to the line and almost got them because they missed the last tack. But only almost…”
Actual win the Multi50s
If the MOD70’s fight to the line proved close, it is the prolonged intensity of the duel between the top two Multi50’s Yves Le Blevec’s Actual and Erwan Le Roux’s FenêtréA-Cardinal which is incredible.
On the first leg between Valencia and Lisbon the duel was between Actual and Lalou Roucayrol’s Arkéma – Aquitaine Region with Actual coming off second best. This time it was Actual who prevailed, taking victory by just five minutes and 10 seconds after 3 days 16 hours 32 mins and 43 seconds of racing on their 1100 miles course which included a scoring mark to the west of Brittany before passing Fastnet which was not a points scoring opportunity for the smaller multis.
The duo separated significantly at Cape Finisterre when Actual went inshore at the DST traffic separation scheme, but they were together again at the scoring gate off the Raz de Sein only minutes apart.
“It was an incredible race! ” grinned skipper Le Blevec who has had past downhill skiing world cup winner Luc Alphand on his crew for the first two offshore legs. Actual won both sets of bonuses, two points at Cascais and Brittany to accumulate maximum points from Leg 2 and lead the overall standings by six points ahead of Arkéma – Aquitaine Region. Roucayrol’s team were handicapped by the loss of their big gennaker which split but lost out when they gambled off the Brittany coast. They finished fourth into Dun Laoghaire some four and a half hours after the leg winners.
Multi 50 leg 2 results
1 Actual, Yves Le Blevec, finish 19/06/2013 06:32:43
2 FenêtréA – Cardinal, Erwan Le Roux – 19/06/2013 06:37:53
3 Arkéma – Region Aquitaine, Lalou Roucayrol – 19/06/2013 11:01:33
MOD70 leg 2 results
1 Spindrift, Yann Guichard, 19/06/2013 – 04:37:48
2 Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse, – 19/06/2013 04:44:32
3 Oman Air – Musandam, Sidney Gavignet, – 19/06/2013 04:45:05
4 Virbac – Paprec 70, Jean-Pierre Dick, – 19/06/2013 – 05:12:02
Maxi80 leg 2 results
1 Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne Lionel Lemonchois – 19/06/2013 05:15:10
By Route des Princes, www.routedesprinces.com
Photo © Marcel Mochet
Routes des Princes Lisbon Inshore Races
Edmond de Rothschild repeated the winning ways that they established around the inshore race tracks in Valencia last weekend when they completed a similar success in the Route des Prince’s Lisbon’s six race inshore series.
Skipper Sébastien Josse, tactician Seb Col and navigator Charles Caudrelier and their crew again proved to be a step ahead of their MOD70 opposition, consistently slicker in their boathandling, tactics and often their sheer boat speed.
In the puffy northerly breeze, blowing off the Lisbon cityfront across the Tagus river, the sunny conditions were great for spectators on the land and on the water, but the changes of wind direction and pressure ensured there was never a dull moment for the ‘brains trusts’ trying to make best use of these changes, nor for the trimmers and grinders who were always working to their maximum. It proved a fabulous display of the MOD70’s potency as grand prix inshore racing machines as well their proven abilities as offshore and ocean racing boats.
Edmond de Rothschild set the bar high when they convincingly won the first race of the day, Race 4 of the series. They were comfortably ahead by the end of the first round of the two laps race. But it was also their ability to come back and return strong, counting results, which proved as valuable. They were completely flat footed off the line in the second race when all three rivals hared off the line neck and neck to the first turn. But they sailed a great second beat, using a beneficial shift from the leeward gate to get back into contention, going on to finish third ahead of Virbac-Paprec 70.
After winning Race 5, Sidney Gavignet’s Oman Air-Musandam was on target for second overall in Lisbon but they slumped to a fourth place finish in the final contest, just one lap which was won by Spindrift – leaving them to third, one place better than in Spain.
But Gavignet’s team will leave Portugal for Leg 2 to Dun Laoghaire, Ireland via the Fastnet Rock, with their points lead on the Route des Princes rankings still intact, but now only two points up on Edmond de Rothschild.
Good start for Ireland bound Multi50s!
With their start advanced due to the forecast for strong winds and big seas at Cape Finisterre on Monday, the Multi50 fleet were given perfect conditions for the start of their 900 miles passage to Dun Laoghaire on Ireland’s Dublin Bay.
With the wind blowing out of the north at between 12 and 18 knots the Multi50’s made an eight miles loop between the historic old town waterfront at the Praça do Comericio and a buoy to the west of the 25th April bridge, returning back to the turning gate before heading west at speed towards the first of their two bonus points scoring marks. First to Cascais, collecting the bonus point, some 41 minutes later was Yves Le Blevec’s Actual. The Multi50s are expected to spend their first night at sea tacking upwind into 15kts of N’ly breezes, and so due to make Cape Finisterre early tomorrow.
Their amended course now takes them to a second points scoring mark at Chausse de Sein to the west of Britanny’s Point du raz.
Multi50 ranking at C1 buoy southwest of Cascais:
1. Actual (Yves Le Blévec) at 17h41
2. FenêtréA-Cardinal (Erwan Le Roux) at 17h44
3. Arkema – Aquitaine (Lalou Roucayrol) at 17:45
4. Rennes – Saint-Malo (Gilles Lamiré) at 18:25
Ranking-shore in Lisbon:
1. Edmond de Rothschild, 10 pts
2. Spindrift, 8 pts
3. Musandam Oman Air, 6 pts
4. Virbac-Paprec 70, 4 pts
Provisional overall standings after Lisbon inshores:
1. Musandam Oman Air (Sidney Gavignet) 54 pts
2. Edmond de Rothschild, 52 pts
3. Spindrift (Yann Guichard) 8 pts
4. Virbac-Paprec 70 (Jean-Pierre Dick), 38 pts
By Route des Princes, www.routedesprinces.fr/en/
Oman Air-Musandam takes just under 3 days to win first leg – photo c Mark Lloyd
Route des Princes Leg 1 Valencia to Lisbon
Oman Air-Musandam took 2d 23h 41mn 38secs for the 794 miles first leg which started from Valencia, Spain last Sunday afternoon.
With most of the course being upwind the winners sailed at an average of 11.08kts for the theoretical course but actually sailed 1024 miles on the water, so making a real average of 14.28kts.
Since the six man international crew established a small lead at the only turning mark of the course off Benicarlo, just to the north of Valencia, just before 8pm on Sunday evening, Oman Air-Musandam have been the most regular leaders of the race.
Over yesterday evening and this morning Gavignet’s crew had seen their steady margin of 20 miles shrink until their nearest rivals, Spindrift (Yann Guichard), passed them temporarily this morning. But Oman Air-Musandam found a new, favourable breeze to the west and were able to extend away from Spindrift, the team which won the MOD70′ class 2012 championship last year.
Oman Air-Musandam collect the maximum possible points for the stage, 40 pts for winning the leg as well as all the available bonus points, 2pts for leading at Benicarlo and 2pts for leading out of the Mediterranean at Gibraltar yesterday morning.
The Route des Princes course takes the fleet of grand prix multihulls from Valencia to Morlaix in France stopping in Lisbon, Dun Laoghaire-Dublin and Plymouth, finishing on 30th June in France.
Sidney Gavignet (FRA): “We are happy, we did some good work and made only a couple of small mistakes but it is a good feeling. This just means we are working well together as a team. Last night it was a bit difficult. We had Spindrift and Prince de Bretagne inside us on the coast and they were catching, catching and the wind shift we were looking for was not coming, so that was tricky.”
Neal McDonald (GBR): “It is good. I think the two days of inshore racing in Valencia did not really reflect our level and maybe this proves we are capable. It is a reward for all the hard work that we all put in before, it has paid off a dividend now.”
“Last night was a bit tense. There was no half measures when they were ten or 15 miles behind us because it would not have made sense to go back and try and cover them and you can’t see them so we had to do something different. We were pretty confident in our option.”
MOD70 rankings after Valencia Inshore and Leg 1
1: Oman Air – Musandam (48 pts)
2: Spindrift (44 pts)
3: Edmond de Rothschild (42 pts)
4: Virbac-Paprec 70 (34 pts)
Ultime rankings after Valencia Inshore and Leg 1
1: Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne (44 pts)
Multi 50 rankings after Valencia Inshore and Leg 1
1: Arkema – Région Aquitaine (42 pts)
2: Actual (36 pts)
3: FenêtréA-Cardinal (32)
4: Rennes Métropole – Saint-Malo Agglomération (28)
By Route des Princes
Photo © Marcel Mochet / Route des Princes
Leg 1 – Route des Princes – Valencia to Lisbon
Before he left Valencia on Sunday for the first leg of the Route des Princes Oman Air – Musandam’s skipper Sidney Gavignet spoke quietly of a ‘rich get richer’ scenario developing where the leading MOD70 might continue to reap a dividend by leading down the course and out of the Mediterranean on Leg 1, the 800 miles passage to Lisbon, Portugal.
With twenty four hours elapsed it is Gavignet’s team which has prospered almost since they rounded the Benicarlo mark north of Valencia on Sunday evening, six hours after the start.
But for a minor blip, as they passed Cabo de Nao early this morning when Sébastien Josse and Edmond de Rothschild managed to squeeze ahead, sailing closer to the coast, the Oman Sail MOD70 team which has Briton Neal McDonald as navigator has managed to steadily increase their lead.
On the mid afternoon rankings, as the leaders passed some 43 miles SW of Cartagena, Oman Air – Musandam had managed to eke out a lead of nearly 29 miles ahead of Yann Guichard’s Spindrift, the MultiOne champions which has Pascal Bidégorry as navigator. In turn Spindrift were five miles up on Jean-Pierre Dick’s Virbac-Paprec 70.
After a tough, sometimes frustrating first night at sea for the MOD70’s, during which they all slowed to a crawl at one time or another, speeds have been more meaningful through the afternoon as they headed towards the Alboran Sea and beyond that the Strait of Gibraltar. They might well enjoy the best of the breeze now for the outlook for the narrow bottleneck stretch between Europe and Africa looks set to offer only very, very light winds.
According to the most recent weather files it will be continuous light headwinds until the fleet managed to escape into the Bay of Cadiz and beyond. Increasingly it looks like whichever team can break into the N’ly winds at the Portuguese coast should have a clear advantage to the finish.
Spindrift’s skipper Yann Guichard was reckoning on one and a half days to Gibraltar when he spoke on this morning’s live radio link up with Race HQ.
“We are now in a SW’ly air stream, so we’re prepared.” Guichard reported, “That means tacking upwind. We’re going to have to look for local effects. We know that there is less wind close to shore. You have to find the right balance. This is all about speed, but at sea it is not easy maintaining a stable speed.”
Oman Air–Musandam were holding firm to their offshore position and appeared to have had some of their lead eroded in the late afternoon by Spindrift as the two groups split more.
Meanwhile Jean-Pierre Dick’s Virbac-Paprec 70 continue to be a threat despite this being his team’s first long offshore race in the class.
In the Multi50 Class, where progress towards the Strait is no doubt helping mark the way for the chasing MOD70’s, the two leading boats were less than one mile apart with Yves Le Blevec and his crew just keeping their advantage with about 140 miles still to make Gibraltar, Oman Air – Musandam about 40 miles astern of them.
MOD70 Rankings at 1700hrs CET
1. Oman Air – Musandam, Sidney Gavignet, 480.38 miles to finish
2. Spindrift, Yann Guichard, +9.73 miles
3. Virbac – Paprec 70,Jean-Pierre Dick, +37.75 miles
4. Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse, +40.35 miles
Multi 50 Rankings at 1700hrs CET
1. Actual, Yves Le Blevec, 448.46 to finish
2. Arkéma – Region Aquitaine, Lalou Roucayrol, +0.77 miles
3. FenêtréA – Cardinal, Erwan Le Roux, +4.15 miles
Ultime Rankings at 1700hrs CET
1. Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne, Lionel Lemonchois, 524.57 to finish
By Route des Princes, www.routedesprinces.com
Route des Princes – Leg 1 start
Though the first offshore leg for the Route des Princes multihull race around Europe is set to cover some 800 miles from Valencia to Lisbon – Portugal, the stage winner might well be decided before the fleet even leaves the Mediterranean.
With up to four successive transition zones predicted, the consensus among the skippers of the four MOD70’s prior to docking out from Valencia’s America’s Cup marina, the Marina Real Juan Carlos, was that this opening leg could well be decided in the Alboran Sea. Whichever crew then manages to escape to Gibraltar and beyond into the Atlantic could earn the biggest rewards.
From a spectacular start Sunday afternoon in 18-20kts of SW’ly wind, watched by thousands on the Malvarossa beach, it was Sidney Gavignet’s team on Oman Air – Musandam who built a significant margin around the six-mile circuit before leading away on the leg up to Benicarló with Edmond de Rothschild chasing in second.
In view of the forecast for a diminishing breeze the course for the Multi50’s has been reduced, missing out the short hook 60 miles NE to a turning buoy off Benicarló. This short first step to a laid buoy which was due to be set just 500 metres off the entrance to the port, amidst a messy area of confused light winds, may well prove to be the first chance for big gains and losses. Thereafter each of the capes on the descent of the Spanish coastline, De Le Nau, Palos and finally Gata can offer a new wind strength and direction. Strategic options are likely to be limited with most staying close to the coast looking for any advantage from thermal sea breeze activity by day.
For the MOD70’s there are two marks where one bonus point (effectively 2 as the offshore points count double the four first offshore legs) is awarded – at Benicarló and Gibraltar. The common cliché is that every point is vital, but many MOD70 crews still have fresh memories of the finale of last year’s European Tour, that Foncia won by only two points.
The vagaries of racing in the Mediterranean are legendary.”In the Mediterranean there is no strategy, you look at what is there and go straight!” reminds Charles Caudrelier, navigator on inshore series winner Edmond de Rothschild, who won the European tour navigating on Foncia. “Complicated is normal for the Mediterranean,” Adds Sidney Gavignet, skipper of Oman-Air Musandam.
The first to emerge from Benicarló should gain, extending into better breeze but then a compression is expected later on Monday. With the winds set to drop after the brisk, adrenalin fuelled start, particularly in the Alboran Sea progress is likely to be slow and patience and concentration will be vital attributes. Almost all of the first leg is set to be upwind with the breeze from Cabo de Gata to Gibraltar likely to be less than eight knots for much of the time. And, as the present forecasts stand, after Cape Saint Vincent at the SW corner of Portugal, the climb to Lisbon should be yet more upwind work but relatively straightforward. Only the finish into Lisbon’s Tagus River might offer a final slowdown.
The leg is expected to take between three and a half and four days, perhaps finishing between late on the night of Wednesday and into Thursday.
The MOD70 class established a reputation for very close racing during last season. But this opening leg, with a series of extension, compression, extension might not be the same.
Offshore and ocean racing talent is spread evenly through a star studded MOD70 fleet. Skipper of last year’s Multi One Champions Spindrift Yann Guichard was not shy about describing Edmond de Rothschild as ‘favourites’ when he arrived in Valencia hot foot from Geneva where he was racing the D35 Ladycat. Sébastien Josse’s Edmond de Rothschild team, who won the inshore series in Valencia have added to their team, including Volvo Ocean race winner Caudrelier as navigator this season. Jean-Pierre Dick has both Route du Rhum winner Roland Jourdain and Vendée Globe champion Vincent Riou on board Virbac-Paprec 70, whilst navigator Neal McDonald, Damian Foxall and skipper Sidney Gavignet on Oman Air –Musandam have between them completed 17 racing laps of the planet.
By Route des Princes, www.routedesprinces.com
All photos © Mark Lloyd / www.lloydimages.com
Route des Princes inshore races in Valencia
The Route des Princes has kicked off on a high for Gitana Team. Tied on points at the top of the leaderboard last night after the first three Valencia inshore races, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild dominated play to take a comfortable win ahead of its rivals. Winners of all three races contested this Saturday, Sébastien Josse and his seven crew ruled supreme to treat Edmond de Rothschild to the first victory in this European Tour for multihulls. However, the men of Gitana XV will only have a short amount of time to savour this first place because tomorrow they’ll be switching exercise and atmosphere with the start of the first of the event’s offshore legs; an 800-mile race from Spain to Portugal, the finish of which has an ETA in Lisbon of 12 June onwards.
For the second day of inshore racing in Valencia, the weather conditions were totally different. Indeed the cloudy, stormy skies of yesterday gave way to glorious sunshine and a fine westerly breeze of 15 to 25 knots. It proved to be a winning scenario for the crew of Edmond de Rothschild, who were especially inspired and at ease in this steadier breeze. With three victories in as many races, Sébastien Josse and his men ruled supreme, putting up a truly faultless performance:
“The wind conditions we were racing in seemed easier to me, as you immediately feel the force of them on the boat. The crew were up for it and everyone knew exactly what they had to do, with Sébastien Col calling tactics, Charles Caudrelier doing the nav and the trimmers sparing no effort. My seven crew did a fantastic job,” admitted the skipper of Gitana XV before going on to discuss their victory:
“We’re really very happy as this result means that the hard work has paid off. We’re spending a lot of time on the water, but when you’re in the learning phase, as is the case for me on the multihull, it can be difficult to get feedback on how you’re doing sometimes. To win this first inshore race has lifted the whole team’s spirits and even though we’re going to have to follow through on this performance for the rest of the event, we’re going to take the time to savour our first place.”
With this Spanish victory, the men of Gitana Team have proved that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with throughout the three weeks of competition that lie ahead. In tonight’s final ranking, after six races, they have outdone Spindrift Racing and Virbac Paprec. In this way, Edmond de Rothschild has been awarded 10 points, whilst second and third place pocket 8 and 6 points respectively: “The points we scored today are obviously important, but you do have to bear in mind the fact that the points for the inshore races for the whole event amount to 40 points out of the total of 190 overall in the Route des Princes, that means the inshores are worth 21% of the points”, Sébastien Josse reminds us.
Tomorrow the Route des Princes fleet will leave Valencia and its Hispanic shores on the first offshore leg bound for Lisbon. This 800-mile course will kick-start this European tour, linking the Mediterranean to the Atlantic coast of Portugal. With a little less than 24 hours from the start, Charles Caudrelier, navigator on Edmond de Rothschild, describes the physiognomy of this first leg: “We’re only certain of one thing right now, we’ll have to contend with headwinds! With regard the strength of the wind, that will depend a bit on timing.
For now, we’re going to have to climb around 60 miles North of Valencia to hunt down a mark off the city of Benicarlo. As there’s very little wind to the North, followed by little air 50 miles to the South of Valencia that night, that section could be very slow. The later we are reaching the weather systems to drop southwards, the lighter the wind will be. It’s pretty tough to come up with any kind of clear plan this evening, as Race Management hasn’t yet made a definitive decision about the course, though this return leg will have an influence on the next stage.
For the time being, we’re watching a westerly breeze, which appears to have settled to the South of Valencia and if we manage to hook onto that before it fades away, we could make headway towards Gibraltar. After this passage, once we’re through into the Atlantic, we should be able to link onto an upwind section again, with a ridge of high pressure to be negotiated. This race promises to be strategically complicated. For now, the routing software is pretty varied and our arrival in Lisbon could be played out this coming Wednesday or Thursday.”
Ranking for the Valencia Inshores
1. Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) – 10 points
2. Spindrift Racing (Xavier Revil) – 8 points
3. Virbac Paprec 70 (Jean-Pierre Dick) – 6 points
4. Musandam – Oman Air (Sidney Gavignet) – 4 points
By Route des Princes, www.routedesprinces.com