Leg 4 Cascais - Marseille: the final sprint is on!
After setting out from Portugal last Thursday, the MOD 70 fleet is beginning its fourth day at sea in the leg between Cascais and Marseille. This new day of sailing promises to be similar to the last one as the leading trimarans are forecast to make Marseille tomorrow morning. Though Oman Sail’s victory is becoming an increasing certainty as each hour passes, the order of arrival of its pursuers is still in some doubt. Two duos have formed in the chasing pack and Edmond de Rothschild Group and Spindrift Racing look set to continue jockeying for position right the way to the finish line.

“The wind variations you can have within 100 metres of another boat are quite incredible. Since this morning, the wind has rotated 180° and every time we round a headland there are more surprises. You have to constantly adapt to it and you need a bit of luck on your side too. Over the coming hours, the wind will be clearer and it will gradually build. The end of the race will be the opposite of what we have in our wake though, which is very good news!” admitted the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group at noon.

The zones of calm which have marked the latest few days of racing for the MOD 70s, and the Alboran Sea crossing in particular, are but a bitter memory this afternoon. Indeed, as they make their way along the South coast of Spain this Sunday, the pace has gradually changed on the deck of Edmond de Rothschild Group and its adversaries. The forecast breeze has finally kicked in and the trimarans’ speeds have at last picked up. This is sure to boost spirits aboard after the many wearing hours of uncertainty in the calm conditions: “We’re neck and neck with Spindrift, which we hooked up with again this morning. It’s good for morale. The wind has picked up, so that’s a boost too. We’re sailing downwind in 10/15 knots. Conditions aren’t very violent as yet, but we’re really powering along now. We’re disappointed with our current position obviously. However, we’re going to battle all the way to the finish so as we’re not the last crew to make Marseille!” said a determined Thomas Rouxel, one of the six crew aboard Edmond de Rothschild Group.

At the tail of the fleet, Sébastien Josse and his men have put their disappointment to one side in order to attack the home straight, which will carry them to Marseille. They are all too aware that these last 500 miles will be boisterous as the wind could well reach 30 knots tonight: “We’ve recharged the batteries so we can be ready for action on deck until the finish. There are still a few moves we could pull, with the passage of the Balearic Islands in particular, where we’ll have to make a decision about which trajectory to adopt” explained Sébastien Josse.

Before they complete this fourth offshore leg, the European Tour crews will have to leave “La Cassidaigne” mark to port, which is an isolated hazard some 3 miles to the South-West of Cassis. If things pan out the way things are shaping up right now, Musandam – Oman Sail will take victory in this race between Cascais and Marseille tomorrow morning, Monday, given how favourable the weather situation is for the frontrunners. Meantime, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is likely to cross the finish line early in the afternoon.

The crew of the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group in Leg 4

Sébastien Josse (Skipper), Olivier Douillard, Florent Chastel, David Boileau, Antoine Koch, Thomas Rouxel

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