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Route des Princes - High pressure fight to the finish

by Route des Princes on 12 Jun 2013
Craig Page
In the 2013 Route des Princes, following another night upwind with regular tacks across the Bay of Cadiz in light airs and into head seas, the first multihull on Leg 1 turned the corner at Cape St Vincent, on the SW tip of Portugal, early this morning. From there they have around 60 miles to make to the finish at the entrance to Lisbon’s Tagus river where the winner should arrive in the early afternoon. Because of the light winds the race committee have decided to shorten the course, finishing at Buoy Two, some 5.6 miles from the entrance to the Tagus. Although they have remained the long time leader, Oman Air-Musandam have seen their margin shrinking from more than 20 miles early yesterday to 12 miles yesterday evening to less than five miles and on the 0600hrs UTC ranking this morning it was calculated at less than one mile as they come under increasing attack from Spindrift. Positioned some 12 miles further towards the coast, to the east Yann Guichard’s MOD70 crew have been spurred for more than 24 hours by a cat and mouse tussle, trading tacks with the bigger Ultime, Lionel Lemonchois’ 80 footer Prince de Bretagne, which has kept them pushing very hard to make the smallest gains against the bigger tri. In the Multi 50’s it is also now also evenly balanced. Lalou Roucayrol’s Arkéma - Aquitaine Region had built up a margin of nearly five miles during the night, but Yves Le Blevec’s Actual has cut that back again to 0.17 of a mile on that 0600hrs position poll. With the high pressure ridge to their west, Oman Air-Musandam are dicing closer to it and seem to have had some lighter winds but they will hope to be clear sooner into a better, new breeze with as faster angle towards the Tagus river entrance and the finish. 'We have a good hare.' Spindrift’s skipper Yann Guichard said, admitting he did not like the look of the winds which stand between them and the Portuguese capital. The ridge of high pressure is barring the route for the fleet, generating only light, unstable winds which will limit the choices. It will be the same for Lalou Roucayrol’s Arkéma - Aquitaine Region which is about 25 miles behind the leading MOD70’s. They had eked out a more meaningful 4.8 miles lead in the Multi50 fleet before rounding Cabo St Vincent at around 0500hrs this morning. Working the Spanish coast Arkéma - Aquitaine Region they had broken free of the duel with Yves Le Blevec’s Actual. But as the leader stalled this getting into softer winds Actual took the acceleration in the breeze as they round the high cliffs at Cape St Vincent is right back in the match. In third and fourth places in the MOD70’s Edmond de Rothschild and Virbac-Paprec 70 are now more than 70 miles behind the leaders and still have around ten knots of breeze and the awkward, choppy headseas which had made life unpleasant for the leaders. With only three miles between Sébastien Josse’s crew and Jean-Pierre Dick’s, just as the battle to win the leg is not settled, so neither is the duel for third and fourth. The winner of Leg One from Valencia should cross the finish line between 1200hrs and 1400hrs local time. Rankings at 0600hrs UTC Multi 50 1. Actual, Yves, Le Blevec, 96.27 miles to finish 2. Arkéma - Region Aquitaine, Lalou Roucayrol +0.17 miles behind leader 3. FenêtréA – Cardinal, Erwan Le Roux +34.17 miles MOD70 1. Oman Air – Musandam, Sidney Gavignet at 67.09 miles to finish 2. Spindrift, Yann Guichard, at +0.33 miles behind the leader 3. Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse, + 64.45 miles behind the leader 4. Virbac - Paprec 70, Jean-Pierre Dick + 66.89 miles behind the leader Ultime 1. Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne, Lionel Lemonchois, +69.07 milles to finish They said: Mayeul Riffet (Arkema - Aquitaine Region): 'It was not too bad last night. We madeone long tack along the south of Portugal to find the clockwise rotation of the wind. It was not bad and gave us a boost, we were shoulder to shoulder, it was a long port tack. I don’t know where they are. We did what we wanted. Now we are passing Cape St. Vincent. It was a bit fraught at times when we were very close to the coast, but we managed to pass the wind hole, which Actual got and we are quite satisfied. The wind is up again, we have between 18 and 20 knots, where we are, there is a small acceleration, the guys are working on deck. ' Sidney Gavignet, (Air Oman-Musandam): 'The conditions are not clear and so neither is the outcome of this leg. It is not easy. We have nothing we can do other than believe in our option even if the classifications are a bit scary! Anyway we stay cool, let us not get over dramatic, it is all still going well on Oman Air! We are working to the west in search of a new wind which we hope we will get soon, looking for the , signs of change. But the wind remains hesitant shifting 20 degrees every two minutes ... Come on, come on wind, a little effort, run in our direction' Yann Guichard (Sprindrift): 'With Prince de Bretagne we are playing cat and mouse now for two days. And now we have never been closer. Along the Portuguese coast we crossed each other all the time making and losing 50 meters here and there, it is quite nice because it gives us a hare. This means we have kept up a slightly higher rate and that is why I think we're are getting back at Musandam Oman Air. There is still quite a gap, we are keeping the pressure on and the breeze will drop. There will be choices between here and the finish. In the Bay of Cadiz it was tricky. With Prince de Bretagne we were looking for the wind shift to the left. We ended up near the point at Faro, we saw the lights of the city. Now it is a beat along the coast It was wet and foggy when we have turned the corner. Now we have about 12kts and a calm sea. We are making 15-16 knots, it is pretty good. Towards the finish at Lisbon, we have a light N’ly and there seems to be holes and calms expected. Oman seems to be going well though. An ETA? In the early afternoon'. Route des Princes website
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