Tricky landfall likely off the Portuguese coast
A few hours before the start of its third day at sea, the MOD 70 fleet was sailing at the latitude of Cape Finisterre at 1000 UTC this morning. Having already covered nearly 700 miles since the race start, Edmond de Rothschild Group and its four rivals had completed over half the course in this second leg between Dùn Laoghaire and Cascais. Favouring a slight westerly separation late yesterday, the crew of Oman Sail and the men of Gitana Team are currently harvesting the fruits of their alternative route and have secured the two top spots in the provisional standing. However, the uncertain, complicated weather situation, which has been reigning over the Bay of Biscay has also served to compress the fleet. Indeed, at the 1000 UTC standing, the five crews were grouped within ten miles of each other. As such the game remains wide open, especially as the weather forecast for the end of the race looks far from simple and could well change. There is likely to be a lot of jockeying for position then before their arrival in Cascais, which is scheduled for Wednesday evening.

Aboard the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, Antoine Koch described the atmosphere during the first part of the race and explained the course chosen yesterday afternoon to negotiate the zone of transition between the front and the ridge of high pressure: “for the first time since the start, the crew was able to get a bit of rest last night. The first day was incredibly intense with a series of tacks to perform along the Irish coast – lots of tacks – in some boisterous conditions and the whole fleet within contact of each other, which prompted everyone to attack. Yesterday we were all under full mainsail and solent in 25 knots of upwind conditions. Normally we switch to the staysail with 19 knots…. Conditions were very changeable in line with the big squalls, which punctuated the trough, the latter proving very difficult to sidestep because it was moving very slowly. Together with Oman, we gradually gained ground to the West of the fleet yesterday in order to traverse the trough more quickly and be the first to latch onto the favourable winds to the West of the system. This position should also enable us to have a more favourable angle to the wind today, or until early afternoon at least, because after that the wind is likely to drop away!”

Indeed the navigator didn’t disguise the fact that the next few hours will be complicated to negotiate with a large zone of calms on the horizon: “There is a depression, which has formed to the South of our trough and is moving southwards, leaving behind it a vast zone without a pressure gradient. We’ll traverse it as best we can in a bid to latch onto some northerly winds late tonight, which will carry us as far as Cascais.” In short, this climatic ‘barrier’ promises to be another tricky stage and could well reshuffle the cards.

Sines replaces Lagos

Given the weather situation likely to reign along the coast of Portugal, Race Management has opted to reduce the course initially planned. Basically, on leaving Dublin Bay on Sunday the sailing instructions stipulated that the MOD 70 fleet would round a mark off Cascais for the first time, before continuing on a southerly heading towards the Lagos mark, situated some 17 miles off Cape St-Vincent. Instead, once Cascais is abeam of them, Edmond de Rothschild Group and its rivals will have to round a mark offshore of Sines, some 50 miles from the entrance to the Tagus River. This represents a saving of nearly 150 miles in relation to the initial course.

At the 1000 UTC standing, Edmond de Rothschild Group was lying in second place, 3.9 miles astern of the new leader Musandam – Oman Sail. Having shifted across to the West yesterday, in the same way as Sébastien Josse and his men, Sidney Gavignet’s crew took control of the fleet at the 0700 UTC standing this Tuesday. The leader from the start of the race, Spindrift Racing, completed this provisional top trio but lamented an 8.2-mile deficit in relation to the Omani trimaran.

Leg 2 – Standing on Tuesday 11 September at 1000 UTC
  1. Musandam – Oman Sail 834.8 miles from the finish
  2. 2. Edmond de Rothschild Group 3.9 miles astern of the leader
  3. Spindrift Racing 8.2 miles astern of the leader
  4. Foncia 10.3 astern of the leader
  5. Race for Water 11.4 astern of the leader

The crew of the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group

Offshore : Sébastien Josse (Skipper), Olivier Douillard, Florent Chastel, Christophe Espagnon, Antoine Koch, Thomas Rouxel

The European Tour in five legs

The second event in the Multi One Championship, after the Krys Ocean Race (a transatlantic race between New York and Brest contested in early July), the European Tour comprises five legs: the five competing crews set off from Kiel bound for Dun Laoghaire (Dublin) on 2 September, prior to setting sail for Cascais (Portugal) and Marseille (France), not to mention Genoa (Italy), where the finish will be decided on 2 October 2012 and with it the name of the winner of this first edition. In total there are over 5,000 nautical miles to cover in five weeks!

Kiel (Germany)
Kiel City Races: from 31 August to 1 September
Leg 1 – 1,188 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
Closing race: Wednesday 3 October

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