MOD70 European Tour fourth leg, from Cascais to Marseille, is currently underway. The MOD70s have spent the night gybing along the south coast of Spain with the separation between first placed Musandam-Oman Sail and last placed Groupe Edmond de Rothschild showing yet another dramatic increase.
Yesterday afternoon the Omani MOD70 was first to converge with the Spanish coastline and benefitted from the stronger thermal winds that developed in the afternoon. The wind increased as skipper Sidney Gavignet and his team rounded the Cabo de Gata point to the east of Almeria yesterday evening at 1830 UTC when Gavignet reported that at one point they had been making 24 knots. As a result they have managed to extend their lead over second placed Race for Water up to 59 miles at the 0330 UTC sched compared to 27 miles just 12 hours earlier.
With Seb Josse’s team bring up the rear there is now 110 miles between first and last, compared to 80 mid-afternoon yesterday.
At the 0330 UTC sched the Omani MOD70 was passing the Murcia region of Spain’s magnificent landlocked sea, the Mar Menor, sailing downwind in a light southwesterly. Meanwhile Race for Water and Foncia, lying second and third respectively, had made it around Cabo de Gata in lighter conditions than the leader. The Stève Ravussin-skippered Race for Water has managed to increase her lead over Foncia to 11 miles, which the Swiss skipper attributed to their having made a better rounding of the cape.
In the fight for fourth, Spindrift racing and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild were off Almeria at 0330, with Yann Guichard’s team just 10 miles from Cabo de Gata.
The crews are anticipating another difficult morning of light winds before the southwesterly starts to build this afternoon with the more pressure the further north they sail. Between Ibiza and Valencia for example the forecast indicates 25-30 knot this afternoon. Good news for the leader, who is likely to put further distance between him and the rest of the fleet.
Sidney Gavignet, skipper of Oman Sail Musandam in a message left in the mailbox at 0500: 'We are at Cartagena under a cloudy sky. The wind goes from 3 to 6 knots, so we’re not moving very fast, but we are making progress. A few hours back we were making 24 knots around Cabo de Gata. Jef Cuzon, Fahad and Brian are sleeping, I'm on deck and Thomas [Lebreton] is helming and Khamis does the rest. All is well though: Dark night, some stars, clouds, more and more clouds, actually. We are waiting for the end of us being becalmed!'
Steve Ravussin, skipper Race for Water: 'It is as busy as ever – we’ve had to put in many gybes to get around the Cabo de Gata in very changeable winds. It was pretty special. We thought Foncia had got up alongside us, but it seems we have managed to stay ahead a little, which is good. Passing the point, there were many variations of wind angle and strength but thanks to Franck [Cammas] we handled it incredibly well. True - sometimes when we stop, we think we have made the wrong choice, but fortunately Foncia has lost more than us.
During manoeuvres we are all on deck. It's been almost 48 hours without sleep, but we have given it our all!
Here, there hasn’t been much wind for a few hours now, and but it has returned a little...
Oman has increased her lead since yesterday, but this is not over yet. They arrived at the coast at a better time for the thermal breeze which they benefitted from longer than us and they are now into different weather from us. But for the last three hours it has been very up and down.
Over the next few hours we hope to get some sleep for a while but there are still two days of work ahead...or 36 hours. We will arrive on Monday.'
MOD70 European Tour website
by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson
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8:59 AM Sun 23 Sep 2012GMT
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