MOD70 EUROPEAN TOUR – After around 1400 miles and three and a half days of hard racing from Kiel to Dun Laoghaire, Ireland just 77 seconds finally separated the top three MOD70 one design trimarans when the MOD70 European Tour leaders broke the finish line in a dying breeze just after midnight on Dublin Bay.
It was a heart-stopping conclusion to the first of the five offshore legs which takes the fleet from Germany to Genoa, Italy with stops in Dublin, Cascais and Marseille. Michel Desjoyaux’s crew of FONCIA had only seized the lead from long-time pacemakers Spindrift racing within the final 15 miles of the finish.
But within 50 metres of the finish line in the fickle, patchy breeze they had slowed to a crawling two knots.
They only just squeezed across the finish line, 31 seconds ahead of Yann Guichard’s Spindrift racing which in turn only just held off Sébastien Josse’s hard driving young crew on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild who missed out on second by only 46 seconds.
“It was tough the whole time.” Commented double Vendée Globe winner Desjoyeaux, skipper of FONCIA“ We kept in contact with Spindrift in particular most of the time and then Groupe Edmond de Rothschild seemed to be the biggest threat, but we just never gave up and it paid off on the finish. We played all the little wind shifts and our sail trimming to get ahead and had to constantly trim and adapt to the conditions to get ahead of Spindrift racing.”
For Desjoyeaux’s crew there was the satisfaction of adding to their Betfair City Race series points win in Kiel, whilst for the Guichard team there was the disappointment at losing out on a leg which they lead for most of the 1238miles distance, through the full range of conditions. But, equally, Guichard reflected that the finish was so close that they might as easily have finished third. And for Josse and his Groupe Edmond de Rothschild team there is the considerable satisfaction of having put together an accomplished performance that came so close to winning.
In fact it was a fitting climax to an engaging first leg which has offered the five strong fleet of MOD70 trimarans a good share of each type of wind conditions, from a robust beat around the Skagen point on the tip of Denmark, a tactical light winds beat in the North Sea, through a high speed plunge down the Channel to Land’s End, averaging close to 30kts for a sustained period, and finally a 200 mile beat up the Celtic Sea to the nerve shredding finish.
Though FONCIA lead out of Kiel last Sunday night, Spindrift racing took the lead on the W coast of Denmark on the speedy descent to the North Sea. And from there until the final miles they had looked like the team most likely to win.
In contrast Stève Ravussin’s crew on fourth placed Race for Water started only modestly, finishing their Monday morning with a deficit of some 70 miles or so on the leaders. But they worked hard to come back and in the end they were just over 34 minutes behind the winner. Spindrift racing had FONCIA within sight for most of the race and it turn Groupe Edmond de Rothschild were close to the FONCIA since the Channel.
Sidney Gavignet and his crew of Musandam-Oman Sail were unfortunate to lose the breeze as it shut down. Finishing fifth they had been duelling for the entire course with Race for Water, which counts with Volvo Ocean Race winner Franck Cammas and Thomas Coville on board.
MOD70 European Tour, Leg 1 Kiel to Dun Laoghaire, 1238 miles (times inGMT) 1-Michel Desjoyeaux (FONCIA) 23h 19 ’09 Sept. 5 in 3d 10h 49′ 09 2-Yann Guichard (Spindrift racing) at 23h 19 ’40 in 3d 10h 49′ 40 (+31secs) 3-Sébastien Josse (Groupe Edmond de Rothschild) at 23h 20 ’26 in 3d 10h 50′ 26 (1min 17secs) 4-Steve Ravussin (Race for Water) at 23h 54 ’25 in 3d 11h 24′ 25 (+35min 16sec) 5-Sidney Gavignet (Musandam, Oman Sail) at 00h 54 ’00 Sept. 6 in 3d 12h 24′ 00 (1h 34m 51sec)
Michel Desjoyeaux, skipper FONCIA: “It was tough the whole time. We kept in contact with Spindrift in particular most of the time and then Groupe Edmond de Rothschild seemed to be the biggest threat, but we just never gave up and it paid off on the finish. We played on the little wind shifts and sail trimming to get ahead and had to constantly trim and adapt to the conditions to get ahead of Spindrift racing. When we are faster than the others it means we are better, there you have it with a one design!”
Yann Guichard, FRA skipper Spindrift racing:“That was a pretty nice finish, three boats within one hundred metres of each other, but we would have preferred to have come in first ahead of FONCIA! We were in the lead pretty much from the start and this is really what makes these boats so special. We are very close on speed and that after four days of being at sea we come in within two minutes of each other is pretty impressive. We are a tiny bit disappointed, but then we could just as easily have come in third, so we hold on to the second place just behind Michel.There pretty much was every type of condition, upwind downing, strong wind and then all those course marks that needed to be respected with the intense and fast sail on the south coast of the UK where we would sail right up close to the piers and shave the rocks almost like on the Figaro. We had a small issue with our central rudder, which means that we head off to the right, but will try and resolve this problem.”
Sébastien Josse (FRA), skipper Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA): “We held back a little in the bad weather but then tried to get back in contact with FONCIA close to Dover and then it really was on the last afternoon that we managed to engage with them. Michel really played with us, not giving an inch, it was like America’s Cup racing with lots of tacks and we just caught up and then maintained contact the whole time. We had no technical issues; really the boat seems to be very solid. In terms of the crew work we found it tough to keep to our watch system at the start and then we managed to get a bit of rest after the bad weather in the North Sea and then the last night again, there was no time for rest. They must be pretty shattered and will sleep well tonight after all the manouevers on board and had little rest.”
Brian Thompson (GBR) watchleader Musandam-Oman Sail: “It was a great sail. We did really well. Conditions were variable and testing and in the end we were just a bit unlucky. We were ahead of Race for Water and both times they got away from us. But last night we had a great race with them right through the English Channel within sight, doing 32kts. We were ahead of them until about 20 miles before the finish. They were two miles further offshore and we slowed down, they sailed around and gained an hour. We did sail really well. It was a gre