On a beat to Lizard Point
As planned, it was at 1100 GMT that the fleet of multihulls led the way as they set sail across the waters of the Solent in the prestigious Rolex Fastnet Race. This great Anglo-Saxon classic, which gathers together amateurs and professionals, monohulls and multihulls, every two years along the same 600-mile course between Cowes and Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock, boasted a packed line-up this year with a record 347 yachts competing in the event! Aboard the MOD Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier were the only ones to be racing their trimaran in double-handed configuration. For the men of Gitana Team though, the aim was to make the most of this half-coastal, half-offshore race format to hone their skills in readiness for the Transat Jacques Vabre and qualify for the latter along the way.

Though Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier are sailing double-handed and are hence the only ones responsible for Edmond de Rothschild’s performance, they have accepted a rather special observer to join them. Indeed Yann Riou has a seat aboard the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. A sailor as well as an onboard electronics and computer specialist, Yann recently added another string to his bow by taking up the role of Media Man for Groupama Sailing Team during the last Volvo Ocean Race. Continuing in this role, he now sails as cameraman aboard a host of race boats and will be the man responsible for bringing the Rolex Fastnet Race to life for us.

His first message from the boat came during the late afternoon: “For their first race together, in double-handed configuration, Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier certainly haven’t spared any effort. After a solid, controlled start, the race was on to extract themselves from the Solent on a beat, putting in a series of tack changes (a good dozen or so in total), in a wind oscillating between 10 and 20 knots. Though the initial tacks were made in contact with the other multihulls, Banque Populaire and Prince de Bretagne in particular, the sequence of manoeuvres ended up by penalising the crew of Edmond de Rothschild, who were sailing shorthanded and hence lacked the physical power of their rivals that boasted a six to ten-person crew. In addition to that, the duo had to carry out a peel, switching from the solent to the staysail, during which time they lost a bit more ground. However, despite this intense and repeated effort, the crew of Gitana XV appear to be in control and remain calm in this tricky section of the race. Shortly before 1400 GMT, Edmond de Rothschild left the Needles in its wake. In 19 knots of breeze they were making 19 knots of boat speed, still on a beat: the crew has since managed to get its breath back and what promises to be a more tactical phase awaits and is set to continue for at least as far as Lizard Point.”

Not sailing on an even keel with its direct rivals, notably Oman Air, given their chose double-handed configuration, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild has certainly put up a creditable performance over the start of this race. Despite the intensity of the initial miles as described by Yann Riou and the extremely taxing manœuvres Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier have had to cope with, at 1830 GMT this evening, the duo were lying in 4th position in the multihull fleet and in 2nd position in corrected time. Edmond de Rothschild was just 6 miles astern of the Omani one-design and was even managing to hold out on Lionel Lemonchois’ men aboard the 80-foot maxi-trimaran Prince de Bretagne, which is competing in crewed configuration.

To track the race using the cartography visit: http://fastnet.rorc.org/2013-fleet-tracking.html

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