Safran wins longest leg
At 0308hrs GMT this morning in Calpe, Marc Guillemot’s crew won the fourth and longest leg in the Vuelta a España a Vela. With this latest success, Safran has achieved her third win in four legs and a half point bonus for passing through the Straits of Gibraltar in the lead. Since the start of the race, the grey and orange monohull has acquired a lead of 5 points over Vincent Riou’s PRB, and in so doing has strengthened her position in the overall rankings.
It was at 0308 hrs this Thursday morning that Safran crossed the finishing line of the fourth leg of the Round Spain Race in Calpe. Perpendicular to the famous Peñón de Ifach, the rocky headland that is a symbol of the Costa Blanca, Marc Guillemot’s crew achieved a third win in four legs. And this particular leg was far from being insignificant as the points counted double.
Just as in the first three legs, it was Vincent Riou’s new PRB and the Spaniards on Movistar and W Hotels that put up the strongest fight. “PRB got off to a better start,” said Marc Guillemot, “Then, we found ourselves doing battle against Movistar. Each time we got back up to the front off the coast of Portugal, before getting a real lead off Gibraltar. This was largely due to the work done by Charles Caudrelier Benac (the navigator) and the efficiency of the whole crew, who never once eased off. Once again, this was a team effort and I’m particularly pleased, as we went through a lot in this leg with a wide range of conditions: upwind sailing in breezy conditions to downwind in light winds…”
After moving ahead off the coast of Portugal, Safran kept hard at it in the Straits of Gibraltar: “We had to grab every opportunity,” explained Charles Caudrelier Benac, who dedicated his time to navigating, when he wasn’t out on deck. “I knew that in the Alboran Sea and in the Mediterranean, we would have to deal with wind shifts and pay attention to what was happening on the water, rather than the weather charts, which were not very accurate and rather random in this area. We deliberately moved offshore and that paid off”.
More than three hours after Safran, Estrella Damm, sailed by Alex Pella and Pepe Ribes, took second place just ahead of Vincent Riou’s PRB. The Spanish crew managed to get in between Safran and her most dangerous rival, just as they did going past Gibraltar.
But a word of caution: final victory will be determined in the final two legs between Safran and PRB, with the advantage currently going to the former, who now has a lead of 6.5 points. Mathematically, it is not yet over, but “a win in the fifth leg, which starts on Sunday, would allow us to relax,” said Charles Caudrelier Benac. He is already predicting that this penultimate leg will be rather complicated: “The wind is expected to be less than 6 knots and it could take us 30 hours to cover the 120 miles… So it looks like a lot of hard work ahead.”
The six legs in the Round Spain Race:
- 1 – Hondarribia / Santander – 90 miles (win for Safran, 2nd PRB, 3rd Movistar)
- 2 – Santander / Gijon – 100 miles (win for PRB, 2nd Safran, 3rd Movistar)
- 3 – Gijon / Sanxenxo – 220 miles (win for Safran, 2nd PRB, 3rd W Hotels)
- 4 – Sanxenxo / Calpe – 830 miles (win for Safran, 2nd W Hotels, 3rd PRB)
- 5 – Calpe / Palma de Mallorca – 140 miles (start on 27th June)
- 6 - Palma de Mallorca / Barcelona – 350 miles