In the MOD70 European Tour, on the Irish race zone, there was a total contrast in the conditions on this second day of the Dublin City Races. Indeed yesterday’s light breeze gave way to a steady 20 knots or so of breeze. In these boisterous, lively conditions, the five crews competed in three races and one Speed Match in order to separate those teams tied on points.
The superb spectacle concluded with victory going to Spindrift Racing. Sébastien Josse and his men, much more at ease in the strong winds, enjoyed a very fine day of racing, including a win in the first race of the day. The trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild finished in second place ahead of Foncia. Tomorrow, the MOD 70s will switch back to offshore mode, bound for Cascais.
Edmond de Rothschild Group, Foncia and Spindrift Racing are really sticking together like glue at the top of the table. Having arrived in Dùn Laoghaire within seventy-seven seconds of each other after over 1,400 miles of racing, the three crews were tied on points this Saturday at the end of the six City Races contested in Dublin Bay. As such only the final Speed Match could decide between them.
At the start, the equation was simple: the order of arrival in this final confrontation would determine the standing for the Irish races. The author of the best start, Spindrift Racing sprinted to victory, with Sébastien Josse and his men just a few metres astern on crossing the finish line. Third in Kiel in this particular exercise of close-contact racing, the six crew on Gitana Team have moved up a place and are continuing to progress.
On his return to the dock, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group declared himself to be satisfied with his lot: 'I didn’t feel at ease yesterday in the light airs and our results reflected that. Today, things were different in the breezy conditions. They’re the kind of conditions the crew favours, because our training sessions in Agadir enabled us to polish up the onboard organisation in strong breeze. These Dublin City Races show how similar the standard is throughout the fleet. We’ve known since the start that the European Tour would come down to consistency, and the watchword remains the same aboard Edmond de Rothschild Group as you have to go the distance. We just missed out on the top spot but we’re on the podium. Things are heading the right way.'
This Saturday morning, whilst the Gitana Team was busying itself on the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group in preparation for this afternoon’s City Races, Sébastien Josse and Antoine Koch already had their eyes riveted to the grib files in a bid to put together a plan for the offshore leg between Dùn Laoghaire and Cascais, which will kick off at 1400 UTC tomorrow.
The onboard navigator explained the scenario for this next race to Portugal: 'This second leg promises to be interesting, but things will work very differently to the first leg between Kiel and Dùn Laoghaire. It’ll mainly involve an oceanic navigation with a theoretical 1,215 miles to cover in order to reach Cascais. However, it can already be taken as read that we’ll cover more ground than planned, as there will be some beating on the programme so we have more like 1,600 miles ahead of us.'
'We’ll be heading off in a well-established SSE’ly breeze of 20-25 knots under the influence of a depression passing over Ireland. As we approach the exit from St Georges Channel, the effects of the site between Ireland and Wales could cause the wind to pick up to around 25-30 knots for a few hours. The current, which affects the waters of the Channel by up to three knots, will have an important role in proceedings.
We’ll have to shelter on the coast when we’re punching the tide and utilise it when it’s favourable. Following on from that we’ll set a course for the Fastnet, but it won’t be a straight run. Along the South coast of Ireland, the wind is set to ease gently as it veers. Logically we’d hunt down the rotation, but as there won’t be any wind on the coast, the situation won’t be as simple as all that. This passage may potentially trip us up and will force us, if the files remain as they are, to take a big detour before we can leave Fastnet in our wake.'
'The idea will be to slip to the back of the front so as to go and hunt down the rotation of the winds to the North-West. We can expect a zone of transition with a little less breeze. We’ll have to keep an eye on the positioning of this system in a bid to try to be the first to hit the pressure. At that point, the depression will slowly slink away to the North, which will result in the establishing of a ridge of high pressure across the Bay of Biscay. We’ll then be sailing downwind on starboard tack under the influence of this ridge, where the files are currently forecasting around fifteen knots.
The wind is set to gradually lift. There will be an important gybe to put in as we approach the centre of the ridge. We’ll have to pinpoint the right moment to gybe so as we can set a course for Cascais, still downwind under gennaker. The point of sail is likely to change as we approach the Iberian coast and are offshore of Porto. The large front, which was associated with the same low that influenced our trajectory at the start of the race and is now moving northwards, will in fact get stuck over Spain. This situation means that the wind will have a tendency to ease as the ridge of high pressure struggles to establish itself offshore of Portugal. The weather could be very changeable between Cape Finisterre and Lisbon.'
'Over this final section, several different scenarios are still possible. Either the front will really be stuck fast, which would generate a building N’ly offshore and a very light S’ly wind inshore, or the front will end up crumbling away and the ridge of high pressure will regain the upper hand, which would result in a N’ly wind building in a crescendo. Right now, the course being retained by Race Management will see us pass offshore of Cascais initially and then make for a mark further South at Lagos (a town situated around 17 miles from Cape St Vincent) before returning to Cascais for the finish. These last few miles may prove really tricky because between Cape St-Vincent and Lagos, there are some very high cliffs and with the forecast N’ly breeze, we may have to negotiate another zone of calms. Once we’re clear of this sector, we’ll still have to make for Caiscais upwind in a steady N’ly breeze.'
The start of the second leg between Dùn Laoghaire and Cascais is scheduled for tomorrow at 1400 UTC.
Standing in the Dùn Laoghaire City Races (after six races)
1. Spindrift Racing – 12 points
2. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 11 points
3. Foncia - 10 points
4. Race for Water - 9 points
5. Musandam – Oman Sail – 8 points
Standing in the European Tour (before leg 2 from Dublin - Cascais)
1. Foncia – 12 + 50 + 3 *+ 10 = 75 points
2. Spindrift Racing – 11 + 46 + 1*+ 12 = 70 points
3. Edmond de Rothschild Group – 10 + 42 + 2*+ 11 = 65 points
4. Race for Water – 8 + 38 + 9 = 55 points
5. Musandam – Oman Sail – 9 + 34 + 8 = 51 points
* corresponds with the points’ bonus awarded to the top three boats at the end of the coastal section contested in Kiel on 2 September.
MOD70 European Tour website
by Kate Jennings translation
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7:35 PM Sat 8 Sep 2012GMT
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