Jacques Vapillon / Sea & Co

Europa Warm-Up leg two to head off tomorrow

As start is delayed by a few hours following the late arrival of the leg one tailenders

Friday May 25th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: Portugal

Anticipation runs high in Cascais, where the seven IMOCA 60 skippers are completing their preparations for tomorrow’s start of the Europa Warm’Up second leg. After the first leg was sailed fully crewed, this next leg via the Azores and the Fastnet Rock will be sailed singlehanded.

With little time between the finish of the first leg, today’s special timed speed runs and long job lists for some shore crews, the pontoons around the Marina de Cascais have been bustling with activity.

The first fully-crewed leg, from Barcelona to Cascais came to a close when Javier Sanso’s 100% ACCIONA EcoPowered arrived very early this morning taking seventh place into Cascais, at 01:36hrs UTC.

For Sanso the leg proved a very useful lesson as for skipper Bubi Sanso this was his first major race in his new Owen-Clarke designed IMOCA 60. "This had to happen - it’s a stage," said Sanso. "On this leg, we broke a lot of little bits and pieces which are mainly because the boat is new and it was our first race. We had problems with the jib furling and quite a few technical glitches that cost us. As was also the case for Groupe Bel and Cheminées Poujoulat, we paid a price during the the passage of Gibraltar. Otherwise I am very happy with how the battery charging system worked. We've had no problem there. Looking to the Vendee Globe, we need to improve the reliability of the boat and work on the sails. For the upcoming second leg , we have a pretty big job list.” Bubi Sanso declared shortly after his arrival this morning

Yesterday three boats crossed the line in succession: Banque Populaire, skippered by Armel Le Cléac'h took fourth – after losing more than 70 miles on the leaders at Gibraltar - and then further behind in fifth were Bernard Stamm’s Cheminée Poujoulat and Groupe Bel, skippered by the hugely experienced Kito de Pavant.

Le Cléac’h commented: “We’re obviously disappointed, the result isn’t completely positive, but at the same time we are not among the trailing boats who still have to fight to finish. After Gibraltar we were behind the leading trio, we gambled because we did not want to just follow in their path. The option did not pay and we lost miles. Later on, we managed to keep in fourth sailing up to Cascais. It has been an interesting leg, a lot of work, a lot of things to see. It was my first important fully crewed race, and it was nice to sail the boat in the conditions we encountered. It was okay and the shore crew could really gather important details for the Vendée Globe. We still have some jobs to tick off our list before going to Les Sables. Last night I left the helm and went to sleep… the crew let me rest because there is a long solo race coming. We knew that this Europa Warm’Up would be intense, the team is well focused and ready.”

Bernard Stamm added: “It was really unstable, and we did not manage the transition zone well. But we are happy to have raced against Groupe Bel. The boat is okay, but it’s still hard, at every shift we loose some ground. On the other hand, when the breeze is more stable, it’s much better. We still need to work on the sail plan, which is not really set for sailing solo. Besides, we were concerned that the boat would be penalised in light air but we could see the she is doing ok. We have no speed issues. The guys have been nice to me, the let me sleep in the last 24 hours. It was weird to be that close to Groupe Bel at Cape St Vincent, after we took two completely different options…”

Kito de Pavant said: “It’s the rule in the Med, we had a little bit of everything during this leg. We lost contact on the first night, and it’s a pity because I believe that paradoxically we sailed very well. Everything worked perfectly on board, even in rough conditions. We have even set some new records between Tarifa and Gibraltar: 14 hours to cover 14 miles! The cat and the laughing cow had a lot of fun. I regret not having been able to compare Groupe Bel’s performances with the rest of the fleet. From tomorrow, I have to go back to solo sailing, long manoeuvres and not very nice to watch, bit it’s good you won’t be there…”

Today, just off the Cascais harbour, before the start of the Europa Warm'Up second stage, six crews competed in the Chrono Cascais a series of three runs on a two-mile long sprint course. (100% ACCIONA EcoPowered didn’t take part due to the very short time left for preparing the boat) The best time was set by Banque Populaire.

Due to the late arrival of some of the fleet, the Race direction has opted to postpone the leg start by some hours, in order to give the teams more time to prepare, and complete the work on the boats and. The start of leg two will take place at 1600 local time to set off on their 'Atlantic triangle', sailed singlehanded to help the skippers prepare for this autumn's Vendee Globe.

The forecast indicates that the fleet will have to deal with a high pressure system up to the Azores, followed by stronger winds heading to the Fastnet rock and to the finish in La Rochelle.

Race Director Jacques Caraës sets the scene: "For two main reasons this stage is a good warm up, First, it's solo and the Vendée Globe is solo and second we set a course a course that is similar to the reality of deep ocean racing. In total that is pretty much the equivalent of a 2300 miles transatlantic race on a course very carefully selected, because there will be important weather transitions to play, between the Azores and the varying, unsettled wind regimes that can prevail in the Irish Sea. So the sailors must be good boat to boat tacticians, good weather analysts and make their boats go fast all the time. I think the race will be exciting. "

The fleet is expected to reach La Rochelle over 5-6 June.

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