Fastnet Rock, next waypoint
It’s been 24 hours since Edmond de Rothschild and the other 346 boats competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race left Cowes on the Isle of Wight. Leading the fleet, the oceanic multihulls are logically dictating proceedings and will launch onto the return leg this Monday afternoon once they round the legendary Irish rock. Aboard the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier have perfectly negotiated what has been a physically challenging start to the race due to the large number of manœuvres. Indeed, as they made their way along the coast of southern England, the duo weren’t sparing any effort in a bid to stay as close as possible to the other multihulls, which are being raced with full crews. This Monday lunchtime, as she was approaching the midway point in the race, Edmond de Rothschild was continuing to make headway close-hauled in around twenty knots of breeze in 4th position, just thirty miles or so shy of the leader. The men of Gitana Team will reach the South-West tip of Ireland this afternoon before setting a course to the South-East and the Scillies. This second crossing of the Celtic Sea promises to be faster since the multihulls will be able to slip along under gennaker as they power towards the Cornish coast.

Given the competitive natures of both Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier, it could be somewhat frustrating not being able to be part of the battle going on at the front of the fleet in the Rolex Fastnet Race. However, the Edmond de Rothschild duo is very much aware that they haven’t come here to hunt down victory in this Anglo-Saxon classic. Indeed the two sailors are participating with the aim of qualifying for the Transat Jacques Vabre and are keen to hone their reflex actions and gain precious experience aboard the one-design trimaran, which they will race across the Atlantic in three months’ time. “We’re having to sail under-canvassed more often and we’re doing less trimming and stacking. It’s another way of sailing but it’s not a source of frustration once you’ve got it into your head why you’re doing it. It’s geared a lot more around safety in any case,” Sébastien Josse admitted this morning.

On the water, weather conditions seem to be tying in with forecasts for now. Since leaving the Solent, the boats competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race have been sailing close-hauled, tacking about the direct route in a breeze of between 12 and 20 knots. As suggested, speed records aren’t colouring the scenario in this 2013 edition. In fact, it’s worth remembering that in 2011, Gitana 11 completed the 600-mile course in 33 hours and 44 minutes. Edmond de Rothschild and its adversaries won’t be able to finish the race within this time, though the pace is likely to pick up once they round Fastnet.

Of note this morning was the fact that the Maxi80 Prince de Bretagne has opted to retire from the race after suffering a problem with its recently added mast canting system.

Message from Yann Riou, media man on Edmond de Rothschild, received this Monday morning:

“It was a beautiful night aboard Edmond de Rothschild: around twenty knots of upwind breeze on relatively calm seas as far as Land’s End. Since then there have been slight head seas, but nothing irritating. These manageable conditions have enabled Sébastien and Charles to get a bit of rest, after what was a physically testing start to the race. During this initial stage, the duo has been learning how to operate in what is a unique configuration on Gitana XV, as it’s the first time that the trimaran has been helmed double-handed, in race mode at least. It takes a fair amount of energy and considerable anticipation from the two sailors. Indeed, though we’re managing to produce performances reminiscent of those in crewed configuration on the long tacks, if not quite achieving them, the manoeuvres take a lot longer to complete. This is penalising Edmond de Rothschild in the transition phases in relation to its rivals being helmed by full crews. And we’ve certainly had our fair share of transitions! There has been a pile of tack changes and sail peeling throughout the day! On today’s menu we have a beat across the Celtic Sea and we are set to round Fastnet in the late afternoon. Have a good day, Yann.”

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