Three races and two victories for Edmond de Rothschild
With three days to go till the conclusion of the Route des Princes, the sailors were back in action today to contest the first set of inshore races in Plymouth, a prime location for the English Navy. It was under slightly overcast skies, with the sun still managing to break through at times, and a wind oscillating between 12 and 20 knots, that three races were able to be launched. Winner of two races, Edmond de Rothschild is topping the leaderboard this evening, ahead of Jean-Pierre Dick and his men. Sidney Gavignet’s crew, who will be Gitana Team’s main rival in the final sprint to Roscoff, ranks third.

The natural nautical arena provided by Plymouth Sound was supposed to be the theatre for the final round-the-cans battles in the Route des Princes. However, the narrow configuration of the site and the wind of around fifteen knots recorded by the Race Committee a few minutes before the first start, had other ideas in the end. It was outside Plymouth Breakwater that the MOD70s were finally able to compete in three races this Friday: “It was the right decision to make us race outside the breakwater today as there was a little too much breeze for us to be able to race on the course which was initially planned, inside the breakwater,” admitted Sébastien Col, the tactician aboard Edmond de Rothschild, before describing the race zone and the conditions encountered: “We had an offshore breeze so it was very shifty. We began the afternoon with 18 knots of wind then it filled in, changed direction, and then eased. In terms of tactics, the main difficulty lay in the position of the course. In fact we were in a spot where two different winds collided: one was offshore and the other was more inshore. As such, according to the time of day, it was either the offshore breeze or the inshore breeze that had the upper hand. In conditions such as these, it wasn’t easy to read the puffs of breeze. In the final race, we were able to see that our adversaries had headed offshore to hunt down more pressure, but they never touched it. Another minor difficulty today was the odd cargo ship or two, which were positioned in the middle of the race zone. It was necessary to anticipate where we were going to position ourselves.”

Winners of all the event’s inshore races so far (Valencia and Lisbon), Sébastien Josse and his crew once again demonstrated their ease around the cans, despite the high stakes being at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now: “Up till now, we haven’t managed to demonstrate all the crew’s potential in the offshore legs, which is pretty frustrating. However, the confidence we’re amassing by sailing the inshores well is very important,” Sébastien Josse admitted. The on-board tactician highlighted the crew’s quiet confidence this Friday: “Despite the high stakes involved in being close to the end of the event and the upcoming duel with Oman, I sensed a great deal of serenity aboard and it was very pleasant. The atmosphere remains serious and applied, and there is a lot of confidence in the choices we’re making. We made a few mistakes today, but we’re still really fired up to get back up to the top spot. Even in the second race, when we tore our gennaker, everyone remained very calm.”

With two victories out of the three races run, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has the edge at the end of this first day. Sébastien Josse and his crew have a two-point lead over Virbac Paprec 70 and double that over the Omani crew. Play promises to be very tight once again, particularly as the hierarchy of this inshore race will have influence the final overall result for the event, as Sébastien Col reports:There’s still everything to play for in this inshore race. Tomorrow, with the timeframe allowed by the organisation, we have to race in one or even two races and in the midst of all that the hierarchy in Plymouth will be decided. The points awarded for this inshore are very important as they may well have an impact on the final result in Roscoff.” This sentiment is backed up by the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild: “In the overall ranking, we are tied on points with Oman. However, every point has a bearing and we would naturally be delighted to be heading offshore tomorrow, towards Roscoff, with a slight lead over our rival.” 

The races that will decide the winner of the Plymouth inshores will kick off tomorrow at 1000 GMT. According to the latest weather forecasts, the wind is due to be a little lighter than today. If this is the case, the Route des Princes’ fleet would be able to sail closer to the coast and the English public; a spectacle which would further flesh out the wealth of festivities planned to celebrate the national “Armed Forces Day”, devoted to the promotion of the work carried out by her majesty’s armed forces.

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild in the Plymouth inshore

Sébastien Josse (skipper)
Charles Caudrelier (navigator) / Sébastien Col (tactician) / Thomas Rouxel (trimmer) / Olivier Douillard (trimmer) / Cyril Dardashti (grinder)  / David Boileau (grinder) / Florent Chastel (bowman)

Ranking for the Plymouth inshore after three races
  1. Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) – 26 points
  2. Virbac Paprec 70 – 24 points
  3. Oman Air - Musandam – 22 points
  4. Spindrift Racing / Retirement – 12 points
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