Straight ahead or almost
The Krys Ocean Race has lived up to its promise of speed. Since setting out from New York last Saturday, on 7 July at 1500 UTC, the MOD 70 fleet has already devoured over half the 2,950 miles of the course after just three days at sea. By managing to hitch a ride on the transatlantic express as soon as they exited the Hudson River, the trimaran Edmond de Rothschild Group and her four rivals were able to take up the perfect position at the leading edge of a cold front, which is propelling them along at high speed towards Europe. In this long sprint, the sailor’s comfort is basic and though the average speeds reached are exhilarating, they call for concentration at all times, which is wearing on the crew. At the 1600 UTC standing, Sébastien Josse and his five crew were in second place, 52 miles astern of the leader, Spindrift Racing.

After three days of racing, there are three boats still giving their all in the battle at the front of the Krys Ocean Race fleet. Indeed, Race for Water and Musandam - Oman Sail, both victims of appendage damage (a daggerboard for the Swiss and a foil for the Omanis), have been relegated to the tail end of the fleet in a different race entirely. However, it should be noted that Sidney Gavignet’s crew, despite being deprived of their port foil, are managing to rack up some high average speeds and to remain within 200 miles of the leader.

Caught off guard a few hours after the start, the thirty sailors in the Krys Ocean Race have had to quickly get into the offshore swing of things offshore. Aboard Edmond de Rothschild Group, Sébastien Josse described the sailing conditions Gitana XV is currently enjoying and reviewed those encountered during the first two days of the race: “The conditions are still just as testing for the boat and the crew! There is now a top trio and the pressure’s on to keep pace with the others. However, the worst of the bad weather is behind us now or should be soon at least. During the second night at sea, we had up to 30-35 knots, with a fair amount of squalls and a cross swell, which didn’t make things any easier for the helmsman. That led to the boat really burying her bows, the three rudders out of the water.” With the furious pace stamped by the top trio, life aboard the trimarans is, we imagine, difficult, but the word that crops up the most among the various protagonists at the radio sessions is ‘wet’! Constantly flirting with thirty knots in a relatively big sea – up to 4.5-metre waves in the worst of the conditions -, the crews are always exposed to vast amounts of water being dumped onto the deck and into the cockpits: “The dampness has been omnipresent aboard the boat since the start. We really haven’t had the time to dry out and, given the weather forecast, I don’t think we’re going to be able to do that before Brest,”admitted the sailor this morning.

Leading the way for the past 48 hours, Spindrift Racing is the most northerly of the fleet. This position, closer to the direct course, was initially studied by the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group. However, Sébastien Josse admits, without a hint of arrogance, to the reasons which led him to follow a slightly more southerly course: “Spindrift opted to position herself further North two days ago. I’d seen the trajectory but I didn’t fancy it myself as such a course would have meant 24 to 36 hours in a stronger breeze and very big, boat-breaking seas. Flat out, under 1 reef and solent, with a degree of risk-taking which I deemed too substantial compared with the gains. Indeed Mich’ (Michel Desjoyeaux) must have come to the same conclusion as he was with them at the time and decided to put in a second reef and luff up to join back up with us. They dared to do it and it’s very well played on their behalf.”

Edmond de Rothschild Group takes care of its positioning

In view of the ridge of high pressure that the leading trimarans are set to negotiate in a little over 300 miles, Sébastien Josse and his men are adjusting their positioning on the Atlantic chessboard. Indeed, last night, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild conceded around thirty miles to the leader. Sébastien Josse explained this loss when contacted early this afternoon by his shore crew: “Last night, we repositioned ourselves to the North slightly, because we wanted to protect the left-hand side of the race zone (a strategy mirrored by Michel Desjoyeaux between the 1300 and 1800-hour standing). In this way, we put in two gybes to remain to leeward of Foncia. This decision required some energy from the crew, because such manoeuvres are no small matter in the breeze, but we’re happy with the way things went: we’re in a good attacking position. Once the ridge of high pressure has an influence, there may be some interesting moves to be had.”

Before entering the channel which leads to Brest’s harbour and the massive maritime festival, which will kick off on Friday, the one-design trimarans will have to respect the course mark at the Scillies. There they must leave the archipelago to starboard, before setting a course for the Breton headland. That is unless Race Management decides to extend their race! This is a distinct possibility, which the organisers will follow through with if the boats show up at the gates to the Iroise city ‘too early’.

New record for the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group

Over Monday night and the early hours of Tuesday, Florent Chastel racked up a new speed record on Gitana XV: 40.7 knots.

Standing on Tuesday 10 July at 1600 UTC
  1. Spindrift Racing – 1,485.8 miles from the finish
  2. Edmond de Rothschild Group – 52.4 miles astern of the leader
  3. Foncia – 82 miles back
  4. Musandam – Oman Sail 190 miles back
  5. Race for Water – Not polled

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group

Sébastien Josse (skipper, helmsman)

Antoine Koch (navigator - helmsman)

Christophe Espagnon (trimmer - helmsman)

David Boileau (trimmer - helmsman)

Thomas Rouxel (trimmer - helmsman)

Florent Chastel (bowman)

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