Reversing the trend
The fourth leg of the European Tour, between Cascais and Marseille, concluded this Monday at the foot of the Bonne Mère. After four days of testing navigation, the bulk of which was marked by many long, flat calm hours in the Alboran Sea, Sébastien Josse and his crew tied up alongside in the Roucas Blanc Marina shortly before noon UTC. With their faces etched by the weather conditions encountered during the 1,030-mile leg, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group was naturally disappointed by its fifth place, but was already discussing the upcoming races. The latter will of course be decisive in establishing the podium for this 2012 edition. Meantime, the outright winners of this race, the men of Musandam Oman Sail, were able to savour what has been a great race for them, along with their arrival amongst the top 3 in the provisional overall standing.

The sailors knew this would be a tricky leg due to the light wind forecast for the majority of the course between Cascais and Marseille. After a solid start to the race among the top trio, Edmond de Rothschild Group saw the scenario turn to its disadvantage as they passed Gibraltar. Sébastien Josse gave us the lowdown on this latest race: “We didn’t get off to a fantastic start in Cascais, but we quickly managed to get back into the leading pack. At St Vincent, Oman and Race for Water harvested the fruit of their more inshore option and made good their escape. However, we managed to stay in contact with Foncia and were involved in a great battle with them. On passing Gibraltar, Mich (Michel Desjoyeaux) was within five boat lengths of us. He handled the transition better and managed to hook up with the remains of the breeze that Oman was enjoying at the head of the fleet. That wasn’t the case for us and we ended up in the current without any wind. At that point, we had no other choice than to head back towards the coast to play the nocturnal breezes. It’s fairly frustrating when it comes down to such minor details. The many long hours, which ensued in the calms of the Alboran Sea were hard, because we were powerless at the tail of the fleet. The conditions in this leg always favoured the leading boats since the pressure always moved in from the East. After Gibraltar, there weren’t any real opportunities to come back. On Sunday, the wind finally kicked back in and we had a lively last night. There were very short, choppy seas and the wind blew up to 30 knots. In these conditions, the boat found it hard to reach its usual speeds and in order to flirt with 30 knots of boat speed, you really had to charge, with the leeward float constantly beneath the water. Given our standing, we played for time a bit and I think we attacked less than the others over the last few miles,” explained the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group, before saying a few words about his crew: “The result is certainly a long way off our expectations, but this type of leg teaches us a great many things and we progress as a result. Tensions could have begun to emerge within the group, but that is certainly not the case here. Aboard the boat, nobody ever gave up despite the fact that we were battling for a good place.”

Taking control of the fleet around Cape St Vincent after a fine option by navigator Jeff Cuzon, Sidney Gavignet’s crew demonstrated great mastery in this leg and Sébastien Josse salutes their performance: “hearty congratulations to the whole Oman Sail team for this great victory! They knew how to snap up any opportunities that came their way at the right time and then continued to extend their lead thanks to a fine trajectory.”

Gitana Team’s men will now be able to benefit from the few days on shore to review their performance and try to head back out on the right foot; the aim being to round off this European Tour on a positive note. Indeed, though the top two places are inaccessible today, the third step of the podium remains within reach of the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. For now they are within seven points of third and fourth place, which are currently tied on points.

Racing will recommence on Friday afternoon in Marseille’s fantastic southern harbour, with two days of City Races on the programme. For the time being, the weather forecasts look set to serve up bracing conditions for the Grand Prix, even though today’s strong wind should have lost some of its intensity. Then on Sunday, at 1300 UTC, the MOD 70 fleet will set off on the final offshore leg of this European event, bound for Genoa in Italy.

Standing Leg 4 from Cascais - Marseille (UTC)
  1. Musandam – Oman Sail, finished on 24 September at 05h11’
  2. Race for Water, finished on 24 September at 07h39’
  3. Foncia, finished on 24 September at 07h57’
  4. Spindrift Racing, finished on 24 September at 10h45’
  5. Edmond de Rothschild Group, finished on 24 September at 11h04’

Standing in the European Tour (after Leg 4)
  1. Foncia = 225 points
  2. Spindrift Racing = 217 points
  3. Musandam – Oman Sail = 193 points
  4. Race for Water = 193 points
  5. Edmond de Rothschild Group = 186 points

The crew of the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group

Sébastien Josse (Skipper), Olivier Douillard, Florent Chastel, David Boileau, 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 – 1,030 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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