City Races, day 2: Teasing trades
For this second day of City Races in Cascais, the wind gods proved to be in rather an uncooperative mood. More timid than yesterday, the thermal breeze didn’t really establish itself and the anemometers on the race zone barely exceeded 5 knots In these very light conditions, the MOD 70 fleet only contested a single City Race and then rounded off the afternoon with three Speed Matches, which are essentially return sprints whose score doesn’t count towards the standing. Edmond de Rothschild Group is lying in third place in the Cascais City Races this evening, behind Spindrift Racing and Musandam Oman Sail. Sidney Gavignet’s crew is still leading the way thanks to its victory in the only race of the day.

With 8-10 knots yesterday, 5 knots and easing today, the Portuguese tradewinds of previous days have abandoned the bay of Cascais to the great displeasure of the sailors. Indeed, whilst the conditions observed after the MOD 70s arrival in Portugal might have led the crews to think they were in with a chance of some boisterous confrontations, the reality is quite a different story. Antoine Koch, navigator aboard Edmond de Rothschild Group, explains the situation to us:We arrived in Cascais on Wednesday as a northerly breeze, known as the Portuguese tradewind, was establishing itself. This steady northerly wind tends to build over the course of the afternoon, providing some very lively conditions. Whether or not this powerful air flow is present depends on two phenomena coming together: the ridge of high pressure associated with the Azores High, which stretches as far as Portugal, and a thermal depression over Spain. This pattern was valid for two days and now this is no longer the case. The air flow has been stopped in its tracks, because there’s a depression shifting position a little offshore of the Azores, which is generating a southerly breeze, which isn’t very strong. This is upsetting the Portuguese tradewind system and the upshot of this is the very light breeze we’re experiencing. For the time being, the grib files are indicating that this situation is set to last for the next few days and notably for the offshore race along the Portuguese coast,” announced the sailor.

A funny old day: very little wind and just one proper race. It was the last boat to round the first mark – Oman Sail – who took victory after a great inshore option whilst the other four boats were heading offshore. We did consider the option taken by Oman prior to the start, but it seemed too risky to give it a go. It was the only opportunity that came our way in this race and we didn’t snap it up. After that the hierarchy remained as it was and though we tried to attack Spindrift just ahead of us, by opting for some different sail configurations, the die was cast. The crew is making progress in these light conditions, which aren’t our speciality, so as far as that’s concerned the results are positive,” admitted Sébastien Josse, skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group, on his return to shore.

Though Sébastien Josse and his men weren’t able to pull a win out of the bag in today’s City Race, they did demonstrate great control in the three Speed Matches, which ensued. With two victories and a fourth place, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild would have an edge over its adversaries in the event of a tie tomorrow once all the races are complete. The reasons for this are that the Speed Matches don’t actually count towards the standing for the City Races, but their results enable those competitors who are tied on points to be separated. It’s worth remembering that during the Irish races, the concluding Speed Match decided the podium in the Dùn Laoghaire City Races because prior to the latter, Spindrift Racing, Edmond de Rothschild Group and Foncia were on equal points.

Tomorrow is the last day of the Portuguese City Races. The five crews in this European Tour will be on the water ready for the Race Committee to send them off on the first race from 1400 hours*. Antoine Koch gives us the lowdown on the weather forecast: “It’s still quite difficult to say what awaits us. The wind on site will depend on which weather phenomenon gains the upper hand. If the depression from the Azores moves forward a little, we might have some southerly breeze. However, if the thermal depression from Spain expands a little we might have some northerly and if the thermal breeze picks up in the bay of Cascais, it might be a case of a south-westerly breeze clocking round to the North-West. It’s likely to be pretty random, as it was today, and we’ll just have to make do with whatever wind we get. As regards the skies, it’s due to be overcast tomorrow.”

* local time = UTC + 1 hour

Standing for the Cascais City Races (after four races)
  1. Musandam – Oman Sail – 44 points
  2. Spindrift Racing – 41 points
  3. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 40 points
  4. Foncia - 38 points
  5. Race for Water - 37 points

The crew of the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group

Sébastien Josse (Skipper)

David Boileau, Florent Chastel, Cyril Dardashti, Olivier Douillard, Christophe Espagnon, Antoine Koch, Thomas Rouxel

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