At the MOD70 European Tour in Kiel, Michel Desjoyeaux and the crew of Foncia narrowly collected top points across the six Betfair City Races, just holding off the late charge of Yann Guichard and the Spindrift racing crew who finished the MOD70 European Tour stage in Germany with two back to back race wins to clinch second overall.
2012 MOD70 European Tour
It may have ultimately have been a triumph for the double winner of the Vendée Globe and his Foncia team but it was also a significant new triumph for the MOD70 European Tour, bringing, for the first time, the new one design 70 foot high speed offshore trimarans to compete in front of big crowds in a very compact arena, just 6-700 metres wide at the widest along the length of the 1nm course.
'A few years ago this would not have been possible with big boats, it would not be accepted by the sailors to make such small races and you can see today and yesterday this it is completely possible.' Commented the winning skipper Desjoyeaux who came under increasing pressure from Spindrift racing which is steered by Yann Guichard who came directly to Germany from the San Francisco leg of the America’s Cup World Series and the helm of the AC45 Energy Team. 'There was a big crowd yesterday and today on the quay to see the show. It is difficult for sure but it will always be the same for every crew and that is the key.' Desjoyeaux concluded.
Indeed Foncia were the class act of Friday, Desjoyeaux’s crew consistently starting best but only sometimes was that the foundation of their strong performances. After two wins and a third yesterday, Foncia followed up with two second places early this afternoon, which more or less wrapped up the Kiel honours.
They set the pace when the wind was more aligned to the course axis for the first two of six races, but thereafter with more direct reaching conditions was when the highest premium was placed on starting fast and clean, then avoiding the obvious holes in the breeze.
Locked on equal points going into the final race late this Saturday afternoon Spindrift racing made no mistakes when the pressure was on them to keep Sébastien Josse’s Groupe Edmond de Rothschild behind them. They started perfectly and raced away to an early lead but even as the 10kts SW’ly breeze faded on the final leg, ice cool Guichard’s crew held their focus to win the race with a comfortable margin in the end, leaving Josse’s crew to third place overall.
'It was a great regatta for us.' Said Guichard, who skippered Spindrift racing to win July’s Krys Ocean Race across the Atlantic. 'This racing is new for everyone, big fast boats in a small channel. It was a big challenge for all of us. For me it was really important to finish second because we have some new guys on board, a new team and in the manoeuvres like that it was so important to have a good cohesion on board. We talked last night about the manoeuvres because we made some big mistakes yesterday, and for me I did not make good starts, and today the starts were better.'
In front of a big, knowledgeable crowd the MOD70 crews produced regular flashes of high speed with the crews under relentless stress from before the start until the finish guns sounded. In the close confines of the tight race course, there was never a moment to draw breath, least of all when the light breezes were blowing more across the course.
Sunday sees the five MOD70’s unleashed from the confines of the Fjord, leaving Kiel Sailing City for the 1238 miles leg to Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, the first offshore leg of the MOD70 European Tour.
Results after six of six races, Betfair City Races, Kiel:
1- Michel Desjoyeaux (FONCIA, FRA) : 12+12+10+11+11+9 = 65 points
2- Yann Guichard (Spindrift racing, EUR) : 10+11+8+10+12+12 = 63 points
3- Sébastien Josse (Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, FRA) : 11+8+11+12+9+11 = 62 points
4*- Sidney Gavignet (Musandam-Oman Sail, OMA) : 8+10+9+8+10+9 = 55 points
5*- Stève Ravussin (Race for Water, SUI) : 9+9+12+9+8+8 = 55 points
In the case of a points tie in the City Races, the Speed Match results:
1- Michel Desjoyeaux (FONCIA) 23 points
2- Yann Guichard (Spindrift racing) 22 points
3- Sébastien Josse (Groupe Edmond de Rothschild) 20 points
4- Sidney Gavignet (Musandam-Oman Sail) 18 points
5- Stève Ravussin (Race for Water) 17 points
Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA) skipper Foncia: 'I am pretty happy with that. It is not the thing that I know best how to do, how to make good starts but yesterday and today we made good starts. Only on the last race did a few guys want to make the same start, so they learned! But they were making good starts too especially Spindrift who made a really nice start on the final race. But it is good for the team and the crew to leave here in a good mood. For sure now we have learned what are the specifications of this place. Yesterday evening we had this reaching direction and so now overall we have a much better idea of how to sail in Kiel Fjord. But also you can see that everyone improved all the time, there are no bad guys on any of these boats and so it was hard all the time. It is difficult but it’s an exercise which is a part of this game and so you have to complete it and be good at it.
Foncia crew - 2012 MOD70 European Tour
'A few years ago this would not have been possible with big boats, it would not be accepted by the sailors to make such small races and you can see today and yesterday this it is completely possible. There was a big crowd yesterday and today on the quay to see the show. It will always be the same for every crew and that is the key.'
Yann Guichard (FRA) skipper Spindrift racing: 'It was a great regatta for us. It is new for everybody this racing, big fast boats in a small channel. It was a big challenge for all of us. For me it was really important to finish second because we have some new guys on board, a new team and in the manoeuvres like that it was so important to have a good cohesion on board. We talked last night about the manoeuvres because we made some big mistakes yesterday, and for me I did not make good starts, and today the starts were better. It was the place that you had to be because today was more reaching and reaching, no opportunities to come back. The start was the key.
It is different to the Cup racing a bit because the boat is bigger, but the same ideas reaching starts and we have a lot of contact, but with these kind of boats it is really difficult because you can see nothing, so you have to be confident in your tactician.'
Seb Josse (FRA) skipper Groupe Edmond de Rothschild: 'For us it is good. We see the true professionals off the small boats ahead, but we were getting better all the time. But we are looking forwards to the offshore where maybe we are more comfortable. And the next City Races will be a different format and so that should be as tight as it gets. Here you win the start, you win the race.'
MOD70 European Tour website