Light airs were forecast and that’s just what they got in this third offshore leg to Plymouth. Covering 644 miles in reality, which equates to an average speed of 11.47 knots, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild was a far cry from the usual speeds it likes to rack up on its steed: “It was a complicated leg… We particularly liked the short downwind run from Fastnet to the Scillies, as things were pretty slow otherwise… A multihull in light conditions isn’t the most pleasant boat to sail as its floats are constantly slamming. We had to play the patience card and put things into perspective as we waited for the wind to kick back in,” Sébastien Josse admitted on his arrival at Mountbatten.
The different accounts from aboard the boat all seem to be saying the same thing: the fate of this third leg was sealed on the first night of racing as the fleet rounded the Tuskar headland: “The leg evolved very quickly as we passed Tuskar, with a TSS* to be respected. The routing software had us pass offshore to hunt down a wind shift. Oman opted for an inshore option. For our part, we didn’t envisage heading off on such an extreme option. Similarly, we didn’t have the same approach to the Fastnet because, given the grib files, there was nothing worth discussing in that scenario. Oman’s choices are really daring. It’s had some success and it’s great that it’s working for Oman, but to my mind, it’s too risky a game and it can’t last,” Sébastien Josse stated. The on-board navigator, Charles Caudrelier, also reviewed this tricky section, which turned in their rival’s favour ultimately: “From the initial tacks, we had a TSS* in the middle of the course. We are forbidden to cross these systems or we may incur a penalty. As a result, they’re forcing us to make slightly different strategic choices, preventing us from crossing tacks with our rivals as they pass through. At Tuskar we opted to head offshore instead. We had very little breeze in relation to the forecasts, whilst Oman managed to nudge some pressure that wasn’t indicated on the charts. It headed offshore at that point and as the conditions on the next stage favoured those who were in front, we did suffer a bit as far as Bishop Rock.”
The Scilly Isles marked a change in the pace of the race. Indeed, a wide, windless zone stretched out across the trimarans’ route and led to a restart a little over 100 miles from the finish: “Ultimately, Oman and ourselves finished within a whisker of each other, despite them having an actual lead of 60 miles at Fastnet. We didn’t think we’d see them again so quickly but we battled hard to make up the lost ground. As we passed Scilly, the wind totally died away and the fleet rebunched big style. It was dark, we had 3-4 knots and you really had to go on feeling in a bid to try and get the boat making headway as best we could. At that point we decided to go on the attack a bit further North, but conditions fleshed out below us… We didn’t give up though and we kept on pressuring them throughout the day, but unfortunately once the front had passed, there weren’t any tactical coups to be had. With Oman gaining a few miles, we weren’t able to get in front of them. This evening we’re obviously disappointed, but we don’t have any regrets as we fought hard right the way to the finish.”
With regard the ranking, the results of this leg mean that Oman Air is leading overall, but is tied on points with Sébastien Josse and his men. The match promises to be tight and the battle merciless, both in the inshore racing, which will take place on Friday and Saturday, and during the final offshore leg to Roscoff, the start of which will take place on Saturday evening. As a result, suspense reigns over the name of the outright winner in this first edition of the Route des Princes: “After a year and a half of sailing in the MOD class, we’ve learnt that it’s never over till it’s over on these boats. That has proved to be true again here and we’ll have to wait for the final leg to discover the victor in this Route des Princes. We’re more motivated than ever and up for the challenge ahead,” concluded the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild.
*TSS: means a traffic separation scheme and shows a zone forbidden to sailing for the fleet of the Route des Princes.
Edmond de Rothschild’s crew in Offshore 3
Sébastien Josse / Charles Caudrelier / Thomas Rouxel / Antoine Koch / Jean-Christophe Mourniac / Florent Chastel
The figures for Edmond de Rothschild in Offshore 3
Edmond de Rothschild crossed the finish line at 18 hours 8 minutes 33 seconds (GMT), 15 minutes and 27 seconds behind Oman Air and 37 minutes and 27 seconds ahead of Virbac Paprec. The three MOD70s arrived within 52 minutes 50 seconds of each other.
Race time: 2 days 8 hours 8 minutes and 33 seconds
Theoretical distance: 500 miles, at an average speed of 8.91 knots
Actual distance covered: 644 miles, at an average speed of 11.47 knots
Ranking for Offshore 3 (Dublin - Plymouth)
- Oman Air / 40 + 2* = 42 points
- Edmond de Rothschild / 36 + 2* = 38 points
- Virbac Paprec 70 / 34 points
- Spindrift Racing / Retirement = 28 points
* bonus points awarded to the first boat to pass the island of Bardsey (Edmond de Rothschild) then that of Bishop Rock (Oman Air)
Ranking for the Route des Princes
- Musandam – Oman Air (Sidney Gavignet) / 126 points
- Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) / 126 points
- Spindrift Racing (Yann Guichard) / 122 points
- Virbac Paprec 70 (Jean-Pierre Dick) / 98 points