Around Portugal Race: off on a 213-mile journey of uncertainty
The MOD 70 fleet was initially due to set off at 1100 hours local time* on the third offshore leg of the European Tour. However, once again the wind was somewhat lacking and Edmond de Rothschild Group and its four adversaries had to wait for the thermal breeze to establish itself early this afternoon before casting off. At 1420 hours*, in a breeze reaching 7-8 knots, the five trimarans took the start of a preliminary course spanning some ten miles around the bay of Cascais. The authors of the best start, Michel Desjoyeaux and his men moved up into the lead virtually from the outset. They were closely tailed by Sébastien Josse and his crew at the first mark then that of Spindrift Racing. An hour later, this trio headed offshore in the same order.

The points bonus awarded to the first three boats on the preliminary course are precious. The crews are very much aware of that and really apply themselves in order to secure a place. In second place, astern of Foncia, Sébastien Josse and his five crew thus pocketed two more valuable points. However, this satisfaction was quickly forgotten given how difficult the next stage of the race is likely to be as it is sure to require the crews’ full attention.

This morning, during the pre-start briefing, Race Management announced that the course would be halved given the light, fickle winds expected for the MOD 70 fleet along the Portuguese coast. In this way, the Porto mark was forgotten, leaving way for that of the Berlengas Islands, around sixty miles to the North of the mouth of the River Tagus. Once this string of granite islands had been left to port, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild retraced its earlier route to drop down to a mark off Sines, around fifty miles to the South of Cascais. At that point, it will again be time to make for Cascais and the finish line off the marina. With 213 miles to cover in total, this third ‘offshore’ leg is unquestionably the shortest on the programme. However, it will be no less complicated to negotiate for the five competing crews. Indeed the navigator for Edmond de Rothschild Group, Antoine Koch, was in no doubt that it would be full of both surprises and dangers.

And events have borne this out because at 1800 hours local time, less than three hours after the start, the five trimarans were already becalmed after just twenty or so miles of racing! For the men of Gitana Team, the only night at sea programmed in this leg promises to be intense and very short in terms of sleep. There will be frequent manœuvres on deck in order to make the most of the slightest puff of air and the contact with their rivals will be constant. Suffice to say that there will be some rather tired sailors due into Cascais marina tomorrow afternoon.

* local time = UTC + 1 hour

Order of passage at the Cascais Scoring Gate
  1. Foncia – 3 points
  2. Edmond de Rothschild Group – 2 points
  3. Spindrift Racing – 1 point
  4. Race for Water
  5. Musandam – Oman Sail

Standing in the European Tour (after the Cascais City Races)
  1. Spindrift Racing – 11 + 46 + 1*+ 12 + 50 + 2* + 11 = 133 points
  2. Foncia – 12 + 50 + 3 *+ 10 + 46 + 8 = 129 points
  3. Edmond de Rothschild Group – 10 + 42 + 2*+ 11 + 38 + 3* + 10 = 116 points
  4. Musandam – Oman Sail – 9 + 34 + 8 + 42 +12 = 105 points
  5. Race for Water – 8 + 38 + 9 + 34 + 1* + 9 = 99 points

* corresponds with the points’ bonus awarded to the top three boats at the end of the coastal section contested at the start of each offshore leg.

The crew of the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group

Sébastien Josse (Skipper), Olivier Douillard, Florent Chastel, Christophe Espagnon, Antoine Koch, David Boileau

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