In the MOD70 European Tour, after some 3,700 miles of offshore racing, over four weeks since leaving Kiel on Sunday September 2nd and 23 City Race heats in Kiel, Dun Laoghaire, Cascais and Marseille, it will be the final 651 miles leg to Genoa, Italy which will decide the overall winner. But, according to the key protagonists it might be the very last miles that settle it.
When the five MOD70’s finally left Marseille, France this afternoon - at first drifting across the Rade Sud through a patchwork of calms for the crucial prologue around the Frioul Islands – scrapping for the six bonus points gained at the scoring gate on leaving the bay, the mathematical advantage was very firmly with Michel Desjoyeaux’s Foncia crew.
Yann Guichard’s Spindrift racing team collected the three points bonus, ahead of Foncia who gained two and Musandam-Oman Sail one, but Spindrift racing now needs to have one boat between them and Foncia at the finish in Genoa if they are to wrest the inaugural MOD70 European Tour title from Desjoyeaux’s crew.
For Spindrift racing, the team which spectacularly won the Krys Ocean Race in July and who is the only to have won two of the City Race stages on this tour, may seem a big ask. However most of the five teams expect the stage, and ultimately even the overall victory, to be settled on the very last miles of this final leg.
It was the final minutes into Dun Laoghaire and Cascais which decided the finishing order of Leg 1 and Leg 2, so too this last showdown may still be settled over 40 difficult miles in light winds in the Gulf of Genoa on Tuesday morning.
Double Vendée Globe winner Desjoyeaux knows that victory will be only safe when they cross the line, just as Guichard’s crew will not give up hope until they hear their final finish gun. 'We have our mission: to keep the momentum going, to have fun, and do our job well. We have to accept mistakes and enjoy it when we do well, that is how we intend to approach it.' Explained Desjoyeaux. In effect, the Foncia crew’s winning tactic could be as simple as sticking to Spindrift racing like glue!
The departure out of Marseille was slow and painstaking, yet two hours into racing and the fleet are up to sailing at 20 knots. The NW’ly Tramontana came in some 40 miles west of Marseille in the Gulf of Lion and should give a fast downwind passage all the way down to round Menorca late tonight.
Thereafter the evolution of a small low pressure to the east of the fleet will see the NW’ly back to the SW to give a fast sail up to Corsica, but it will be the 80 miles upwind from the Giraglia and into the Gulf of Genoa in light airs which might be the most difficult.
Lying third on the MOD70 European Tour standings Sidney Gavignet and his crew on Musandam-Oman Sail, winners of Leg 4 into Marseille, effectively doubled their lead on Race for Water when they collected that one vital bonus point this afternoon. With four points allocated per offshore place, their surest strategy is simply to stay ahead of Race for Water to be sure of the third step on the podium. But Musandam-Oman Sail’s Cuzon said: 'Our goal is to finish third but also our aim is not to try and play with the other boats. We want to play our game, first and foremost. And then see what happens at the finish. As usual we set out to win the leg.'
MOD70 European Tour, Overall Standings at start of Leg 5, Marseille to Genoa (after Marseille Scoring Gate bonus):
1 Foncia (FRA), M Desjoyeaux (FRA) 238 pts
2 Spindrift racing (EUR), Y Guichard (FRA) 232 pts
3 Musandam-Oman Sail (OMA), S Gavignet (FRA) 204 pts
4 Race for Water (SUI), S Ravussin (SUI) 202pts
5 Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) S Josse (FRA) 194 pts
Michel Desjoyeaux, skipper of Foncia: 'We have our mission: to keep the momentum going, have fun, and do our job well. We have to accept mistakes and enjoy it when we do well, that is how we intend to go on. Regarding the duel with Spindrift ... In my opinion, they will try to beat us on the next leg, but we will try and keep ahead. On this European Tour, it has been evenly shared with each of us having our moment of glory and then some less great moments. We have has some really hard fought battles on each of the legs. Let’s hope that the winds are in the right direction, that the rain stops and that the best team wins in Genoa!'
Yann Guichard (FRA), skipper-helm Spindrift racing (EUR): 'I expect a tough leg. I am happy to be in second only seven points but it will be a tough leg. We have to win the race and put one or two boats behind us to Foncia, so it will hard but the forecast suggests it will be nice but tricky conditions. I am looking forwards to the race. I have been so many times on boats off Genoa and every time there is no wind when you arrive in the Bay. So you have to make your strategy before you arrive in the Bay. You have to pick your side, left or right. After that the game is done. I think that will be the key for the leg and perhaps the European Tour.'
Jeff Cuzon (FRA), navigator Musandam-Oman Sail (OMA): 'It is quite a short leg of 651 miles which will start in light conditions off Marseille with rain and really shifty winds and the first goal is to get out of this zone as to the west side of Marseille there is some NW’ly wind 20-25kts.So whoever gets there will get the advantage. That is the first goal, to reach that wind. And then after it is almost all downwind under gennaker, then some stronger winds off the north of Corsica, but that low is moving and evolving and so it is not clear what we will have. We can see 25-30kts. The finish in genoa will be light, downwind and so we should have a new start a few hours before the finish. At the beginning it is not so easy for the navigators, but that is the Mediterranean, here you have to work more as a navigator. Our goal is to finish third but our goal is not to try and play with the other boats. We want to play our game, first and foremost. And then see what happens at the finish. As usual we set out to win the leg.'
Sébastien Josse (FRA), skipper Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA): 'We just need to take all the points we can. First we need to take all the points we can at the scoring gate. And after we need to be in good shape for the beat from Giraglia to Genoa because that will be the tricky part of the leg. The first night we can get the NW’ly wind. That will be just speed. And that fast time might be the time to have some rest on board, to pass Minorca and get some sleep and look forwards to the finish. We lost quite a lot of points in the last two legs, we are not in the place we wanted to be, but it is what it is. We know we can sail well, so we get back to that spirit and stay with that. So we see how Musandam-Oman Sail sail. We need to improve small things. Like I was saying yesterday to Sidney Gavignet, sometimes you make the good starts, sometimes bad ones. That is not luck or bad, it is just that sometimes you get going one second faster than the others and you have the gap. We then try to come back and be more aggressive at the start.'
Steve Ravussin (SUI), skipper Race for Water (SUI):'Yesterday we had a bad day and did not win the City Race and so this is our last chance to win a leg. We need to work hard and if we finish ahead of Musandam-Oman Sail then third is ours, and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild are not so far behind us. If we are last we finish fifth. If is light we can be better. Yesterday I made some bad starts so it is easier for me today. Francois Morvan is navigating now, he is young and has been with us for two years, but the navigation here is not so tough. He has done a good job on navigation and tactics. But here’s hoping we can be first into Genoa.'
MOD70 European Tour website
by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson
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10:58 PM Sun 30 Sep 2012GMT
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