A Combined Attack in Irish Waters
Some truly magical moments offshore of Dùn Laoghaire rounded off the first offshore leg of the European Tour, which set out from Kiel three days ago. Shortly before midnight UTC, the top trio suddenly loomed out of the darkness in unison after a theoretical 1,238 miles of racing. With just a few hundred metres between them, the entire podium was decided in one minute and seventeen seconds! On crossing the finish line at 23h20’26’’ UTC, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild secured third place in what proved to be a top-flight battle. Line honours went to Michel Desjoyeaux and his crew, who pipped Yann Guichard’s men to the post by thirty-one seconds. On the water, the spectacle was staggering and the sailors themselves, on hearing how little separation there was between them, quickly clocked just how unique a moment it was.

Intensity, contact and enjoyment were the common denominators in the declarations at the finish, as were the smiles on the lips of the six men making up the crew on the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group. And yet, in order to cover the distance between Germany and Ireland, no effort was spared among the five competing crews. Indeed, from the strong breeze and heavy seas that greeted them after the Skagerak headland to the North of Denmark, to the light airs which marked their entry into the English Channel, not to mention the uncertainty of the weather, which spiced up the last few miles of the race, all the ingredients were there for one almighty battle: “We had some very varied weather conditions in this leg and this diversity really gave the race rhythm, with a great many manœuvres which called for a high presence on deck. In contrast to the Krys Ocean Race, in which we had a very strict watch arrangement, and hence some pre-defined periods for recovery, we had fewer slots allocated for sleep this time. In total we got in a maximum of three hours of sleep in twenty-four hours, but not all in one go,” admitted Christophe Espagnon.For his part, bowman Florent Chastel’s overriding image was of the human and physical commitment called for by the one-design stamp. “I don’t have a Figaro background, like some of the rest of the crew, and my multihull experience was notably forged in the Orma races contested on prototypes. As such I’m new to the delights of the one-design with the intensity of the close-contact racing. We’re all on a par here and the winning team is the one which has turned its machine to best account and makes the fewest mistakes. These races on a level pegging encourage us to dig even deeper than before.”

Still in contact with the head of the fleet, Sébastien Josse’s men battled all the way to the end. Proof of this came, just a few boat lengths from the finish line, as the crew of Gitana XV didn’t give up and unfurled the gennaker (large headsail) in a bid to claw back the precious metres, which still separated them from the two leaders. It was one last effort, sadly in vain, but it perfectly demonstrated the mindset and motivation of the men of Gitana Team. The skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group shared with us his climactic moment from the leg: “Prior to the start, analysis of the grib files and weather routing told us that the race could be decided at the finish. Michel (Desjoyeaux) demonstrated greater ease in the very light airs over the closing hours. Foncia powered up quicker than us and shot off towards the finish line. Victory was decided at that point.”

As regards the rhythm at which the competitors crossed the finish line, the arrival in Dùn Laoghaire unquestionably harked back to the legendary leg finishes that have coloured the Solitaire du Figaro for years. However, in contrast to the latter summer classic, which is very familiar among a large number of the sailors competing on the MOD circuit, the European Tour is judged in terms of points rather than time. In this way, after pulling off a double whammy (victory in the Kiel City Race and the ensuing offshore race), Foncia has logically taken the lead in the provisional standing with a credit of 65 points, ahead of Spindrift Racing and Edmond de Rothschild Group, who have respectively racked up a tally of 58 and 54 points. Of note is the fact that it was these same three boats which formed the top trio on leaving Kiel and that earned them bonus points form the coastal course, which bumps up the final points tally.

After a good hot meal, the sailors quickly headed off for a soft bed because on Friday, the six crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group, accompanied by two extra sailors from the team, will get back down to business with the first day’s racing in the Dublin City Race: “The European Tour boasts an ambitious programme. We compete in a series of offshore races, which can be wearing, along with a series of City Races, whose format calls for a great deal of energy from the crew. This rhythm is one of the parameters that needs to be taken into account and to win this event outright, you obviously need to be good, but most importantly you need to be consistent,” explained theskipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group.

The crew of the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group in Leg 1

Sébastien Josse (Skipper), David Boileau, Florent Chastel, Christophe Espagnon, Antoine Koch, Thomas Rouxel

Finish times for Leg 1 (Kiel – Dùn Laoghaire)
  1. Foncia, finished on 5 September at 23h19’09’’ UTC
  2. 2. Spindrift Racing, finished on 5 September at 23h19’40’’ UTC
  3. 3. Edmond de Rothschild Group, finished on 5 September at 23h20’26’’ UTC
  4. Race for Water, finished on 5 September at 23h54’25’’ UTC
  5. Musandam – Oman Sail, finished on 6 September at 00h54’ UTC

Sébastien Josse and his men completed the course in 3 days 10 hours 50 minutes and 26 seconds. The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group was the fastest over the ground since they recorded an average speed of 16.96 knots over the actual distance covered; 1,405 miles compared with the 1,238 from the great circle route.

Standing for the European Tour (after the Kiel City Races and Leg 1 between Kiel and Dùn Laoghaire)
  1. Foncia – 12 + 50 + 3 * = 65 points
  2. Spindrift Racing – 11 + 46 + 1*= 58 points
  3. 3. Edmond de Rothschild Group – 10 + 42 + 2* = 54 points
  4. Race for Water – 8 + 38 = 46 points
  5. Musandam – Oman Sail – 9 + 34 = 43 points

* corresponds with the points bonus awarded to the first three boats at the end of the coastal course contested in Kiel on 2 September

The European Tour in five legs

This is the second event in the Multi One Championship after the Krys Ocean Race, which took place in early July between New York and Brest. In total the five crews will have to cover over 5,000 nautical miles in five weeks on a North-South route! In addition to the offshore races between the host cities and contested with six crew per boat, the MOD 70s will do battle in races around the bay called City Races, where the number of sailors increases to eight. It is a comprehensive, demanding event, which will be intense to say the least.

Kiel (Germany)
Kiel City Races: from 31 August to 1 September

Leg 1 – 1,238 miles: Kiel – Dun Laoghaire (Dublin), start Sunday 2 September

Dun Laoghaire (Ireland)
Dublin City Races: from 7 to 8 September

Leg 2 – 1,215 miles: Dun Laoghaire (Dublin) – Cascais, start Sunday 9 September

Cascais (Portugal Cascais City Races: from 14 to 16 September
Leg 3 - 558 miles: Cascais – Cascais (Around Portugal Race), start Monday 17 September
Leg 4 – 1,071 miles: Cascais – Marseille, start Thursday 20 September

Marseille (France)
Marseille City Races: from 28 to 29 September
Leg 5 - 672 miles: Marseille – Genoa, start Sunday 30 September

Genoa (Italy)
Finish of leg 5: Tuesday 2 October

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