In the Route des Princes, Sébastien Josse and his seven strong crew have racked up a flawless performance in the inshore races. This Saturday in Plymouth, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild won its third inshore in this event, continuing on a roll that has also seen Gitana Team secure wins in Valencia and Lisbon.
La Route des Princess 2013 - Oman Air - Musandam and Edmond de Rothschild in action during the InPort race, close to the city of Plymouth
Thanks to this result, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild have snatched back the overall lead in the event prior to the final sprint to Roscoff, the start of which will kick off this evening at 1900 GMT. With four points between the top two MOD70s, the suspense is palpable in the battle for outright victory and there will be high tension aboard the one-designs until their arrival on the coast of Brittany.
Yesterday’s leader after the first set of three inshore races, Sébastien Josse and his men were keen to convert this dominance into points today and confirm their status as favourite in the inshores: 'We are really delighted by this latest victory in the inshore races; we’ve pulled off the grand slam! The crew has put a lot of work into making progress in this exercise over the past year and a half and it’s great when it pays off like this. We were very much at ease in the manœuvring and having Sébastien Col calling tactics was a big bonus. He’s very good and he’s brought a lot of calm confidence to these in shores and he’s settled very quickly into our group, which has worked together since the start of the project,' explained the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild, before reviewing today’s race: 'With a single race on the menu today, we couldn’t afford to make a mistake and we had to be in front. We got off to an average start, but we knew that in light airs, it’s not ideal to be the first to the dog-leg mark. From that point, we found ourselves in a strong attacking position and we piled the pressure on our rivals. Oman opted for a different tack just after the dog-leg and it didn’t pan out for them as we passed Virbac in one move downwind.'
Though the crew of Edmond de Rothschild were naturally motivated to secure another victory, they were aware that a good result in Plymouth would essentially translate as precious points towards the overall ranking and an advantage over Oman Air prior to the final offshore leg: 'This morning’s race was the perfect scenario: we won, Virbac Paprec took second place and Oman ranked third. As such, we’re leaving Plymouth this evening with a small 4-point bonus in the overall ranking. Naturally that’s how I prefer things to be but this Route des Princes is still far from over and everything will come down to this final offshore leg.' Indeed, in the provisional overall standing, Edmond de Rothschild has moved up to the top of the leaderboard with a total of 136 points, followed by Oman Air, which is credited with 132 points. Suffice to say that it promises to be a close run match between the two crews and we’ll have to wait till Roscoff to find out the winner of the first edition of the Route des Princes.
Adapting to the weather conditions that the Route des Princes’ fleet are set to encounter, Race Management has made the route for the final leg official. After a course around Plymouth Sound, the MOD70s will head towards Eddystone, around 10 miles offshore. Once they leave the lighthouse to starboard, Edmond de Rothschild and its adversaries will point their bows towards Wolf Rock, at the South-West tip of England. Once around this course mark, the trimarans will begin the Channel hop towards the West Cardinal Roche Gautier, located offshore of the island of Bréhat (Côtes d’Armor). It’s here that the only bonus point of the leg will be awarded (1.5 points in reality given the scoring factor for this offshore leg). The 70-foot one-designs will then return towards Roscoff, where Race Management has reserved the right to lengthen the course by a few miles if the competitors show up at this Finistere-based port too early.
Antoine Koch gives us the lowdown on the weather for this fourth and final offshore: 'We’ll set off along the northern edge of a zone of high pressure and at start time we should have around 12-13 knots, though this is likely to ease. The first part of the race towards Wolf Rock will be a beat. Once we’re around Wolf Rock, we’ll link onto a long downwind section of around 120 – 130 miles towards the Roche Gautier cardinal, but we won’t be sailing in a straight line; we’re going to have to tack throughout the night. On our arrival at Bréhat, there won’t be a lot of breeze – 5 to 10 knots of WNW’ly, and according to our timing, we may end up punching tide. This final stretch, where we’ll have to tack upwind, could prove fairly hazardous.'
'The upcoming leg is a one-night sprint and the whole team is really motivated to secure this victory in Roscoff. This afternoon, we’re going to get a few hours’ rest, then we’ll have a final weather briefing with the team before leaving Mountbatten at around 1730 GMT for the scheduled start at 1900 GMT, concluded Sébastien Josse.
Sébastien Col has this year taken up the post of tactician aboard Edmond de Rothschild for the first time. This racing expert, a match racing specialist, has joined Sébastien Josse’s crew for each of the stopovers in this Route des Princes. He is one of the guys responsible for Edmond de Rothschild’s victories around the cans: 'It’s been a revelation for me to sail with Gitana Team and I’m really happy with the experience. We kicked off this Route des Princes on a high by winning the first inshore in Valencia and we’ve stepped up our game more and more throughout June by capitalising on every stage. Everyone really enjoys themselves aboard and I think that gradually makes a difference too. I think Gitana Team has built up a really solid group. As tactician, to be able to rely on such an efficient team in the manœuvres in particular is a real bonus. Once again today, we passed our direct rival thanks to a better gybe. Sébastien and I had never worked together in this configuration, but the cohesion has been perfect. Sébastien has only been sailing a multihull for a short amount of time, on the scale of a sailor’s career, but he manages things superbly well and I believe he’s one of the best around today. On a personal level I’m heading off to Dunkirk this afternoon to race in the Tour de France à la Voile, but I’m obviously going to follow this final leg very closely. Things are very close between us and Oman and even though we established a small points’ bonus, it’s going to be tense all the way to the finish… it’s this suspense which is part of this class’ charm too of course.'
Ranking in the Plymouth inshore
1. Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) – 36 points
2. Virbac Paprec 70 – 32 points
3. Oman Air - Musandam – 28 points
4. Spindrift Racing / DNS – 16 points
Ranking for the Route des Princes
1. Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) / 136 points
2. Musandam – Oman Air (Sidney Gavignet) / 132 points
3. Spindrift Racing (Yann Guichard) / 126 points
4. Virbac Paprec 70 (Jean-Pierre Dick) / 104 points