The final curtain falls over the European Tour 2012
The final curtain has fallen over the European Tour today. Having set out from Kiel, Germany, on 2 September 2012, the MOD 70 fleet completed its first European event this Tuesday, after a month of particularly intense competition. Outright victory, which was still undecided before this morning’s finish in Genoa, went to the crew of Foncia. Michel Desjoyeaux and his men demonstrated great consistency throughout the event and made the most of their two offshore victories. For the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, this meeting proved more difficult and, despite a good start to the competition in the top trio, Sébastien Josse and his men rounded off the event in fifth place. It could have been a very different tale if the technical side to their campaign hadn’t let them down in the final leg between Marseille and Genoa.

Review of the 650 miles between Marseille and Genoa

On setting sail from Marseille on Sunday, Sébastien Josse and his men were keen to end the European Tour on a positive note and had their sights on third place in the standing, which was still accessible at that time. Despite fluffing the start a little, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group enjoyed a very good first night at sea, synonymous with a return to the top two, in the company of Michel Desjoyeaux. The climb up from Minorca to Giraglia, at the North-East tip of Corsica, got off to an auspicious beginning and their strategy seemed to be panning out well. However, that didn’t account for the loss of their gennaker, the large downwind headsail, which is essential in this phase of the route. Indeed, whilst they were vying with Foncia for the head of the fleet, the crew of Gitana XV had to watch, powerless, as their gennaker ripped open:“This damage came as a surprise because it was virtually new. We’d only used it for a few days of racing. There was no visible sign of wear before it tore apart as it was being unfurled. Would it have been possible to carry a second gennaker? Yes… but on our one-design trimarans, we’re even more focused on reducing weight as the slightest difference can influence performance. 70kg (the weight of the sail) is the equivalent of a seventh crew member after all. Perhaps our misfortune will change things and in future the crews will carry a second gennaker…” admitted Christophe Espagnon, tactician and helmsman aboard Edmond de Rothschild Group.

For his part, Sébastien Josse naturally harbours regrets about the misfortune the team suffered: “Our second place when this damage occurred doesn’t necessarily translate as us finishing in Genoa in the same position, given the very random conditions at the finish once again. However, I am convinced that we could have pulled something out of the bag. We were well positioned, on the pace and knew that the passage around Minorca was relatively important for the next stage of the leg. It’s really annoying and the whole team was very disappointed, but sailing remains a mechanical sport with all its ups and downs that you just have to take on the chin.”

Present in Genoa until Thursday, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild will then set a course for Nice, where she will be moored for a few days. Indeed Sébastien Josse and his crew will be alongside Pierre Pennec’s men, who will be in the city contending their penultimate Grand Prix of the Extreme Sailing Series 2012 in the Baie des Anges. No doubt the perfect opportunity for the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group to have a tack-about just a little offshore of her ‘stable mate’. After that, Gitana XV will be delivered to her home port of Lorient, which she’s set to reach around the end of October. At that point she will undergo a refit, which will include a complete check of the one-design.

Just back on dry land, Sébastien Josse, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group, gave us a review of his crew’s first European Tour

“The European Tour was every bit as intense as its billing, whether it’s offshore, where we were essentially sailing within contact and within sight of each other, or battling it out in the City Races, where there was very little separating the final places. The past four weeks have been packed with lessons and you had to keep up with the steady pace of it all. I think that the offshore finishes with the boats just a few boat lengths apart will remain the trademark of this first edition.”

The competitive aspect

“The results are mixed. If we consider things on a leg-by-leg basis, there are some very good aspects but some bad ones too. If we’re talking pure sports results, it’s not good, but this is largely down to the second half of the event, which wasn’t the same standard as our performances at the start of the Tour. In the first two legs, we were sailing well, with two podium finishes in the City Races and one podium place in the first offshore leg between Kiel and Dùn Laoghaire. However, we didn’t really snap up any opportunities that came our way so as to stamp our ground. I think this time on the water caused a few doubts to creep in amongst the crew, which resulted in a state of tension, which we weren’t able to shake off very quickly. This wasn’t the case in the last leg between Marseille and Genoa, where we were really in on the action, on the offensive and glued to the front of the pack… but the damage to our gennaker stopped us in our tracks.”

The exercise of City Races

“I tackled the exercise of City Races with a fair amount of apprehension, as it’s not my speciality at all. In these round the cans races, I’ve got a lot less experience than the majority of my adversaries, but we saw that the work we did in Agadir over the course of the winter paid off. Right now we’re clearly more at ease in an established wind, especially when it’s quite strong. In the conditions we’ve had over the past few weeks, which have seen a predominance of light airs, we had more difficult playing to our strengths. In transition phases in particular, we’re not precise enough as yet. That’s going to have to be the main focus of our training if we are to tackle the 2013 season with a better set of cards.”

The crew

“Our crew hasn’t been training together for long and doesn’t have much experience of multihull racing. As such, the group was a gamble, particularly as I myself am a bit of rookie to the circuit as a skipper. We had some successes, such as the Krys Ocean Race, where we finished second, but also some disappointments like our fifth place overall in this European Tour. Today, we’ve identified our weaknesses and our strengths and we’ll have to work to erase the former. The principle of having a training partner is very important to my mind, because close contact and confrontation are constant on the MOD 70s. Results aside, I’m proud of this group, who always remained united and motivated in the tricky moments. On a human level, it’s been a fine tour of Europe for Edmond de Rothschild Group.”

Standing for the European Tour

  1. Foncia – 284 points
  2. Spindrift Racing – 282 points
  3. Race for Water - 244 points
  4. Musandam – Oman Sail - 242 points
  5. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 228 points

The crew of the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group

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

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 comprised 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 was decided today, 2 October 2012, and with it the name of the winner of this first edition. In total there were 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

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