MOD70s revving engines
The MOD70s set sail in the Krys Ocean Race from New York harbour to Brest, France at 1400 UTC today with the crews anticipating a rapid Atlantic crossing.
While winds for the start are forecast to be light, with a benign opening in 7-9 knots, the southwesterly breeze is due to build by late afternoon today and into Sunday will be up to 25 knots.
The great circle route to Brest, takes the boats close to the eastern seaboard of the USA, so crews will have to chose the between sailing the shortest course and digging into the marginally fresher conditions offshore, where they can also benefit from the favourable push of the Gulf Stream. The aim will be to stay east of a front that is pushing east on Monday associated with a depression to the north of Newfoundland and in order to achieve this it may pay to err south. Depending on how quickly they cross the Atlantic - their ETA into Brest is Friday - they may or may not get held up by the Azores high. On Tuesday the high is forecast to be centred due west of the Azores but by Wednesday with the depression over Newfoundland shifting north over the Labrador Sea so the high developes lobes out to the northeast and SSW, and the former may hamper their progress east and this in turn may allow the cold front astern of them to catch up and overtake them.
“The weather forecasts could not really be better for this race," said Race Director Jacques Caraës "The general picture is for southwesterly winds until the Azores high. There are no strategic points until the Azores high after three days of racing so it will be a speed race rather than a tactical race.”
Preparations have long since been completed, with the boats having been ‘locked down’ in race mode since they departed Newport, RI last Tuesday.
The mood of expectation and anticipation round New York’s North Cove is heightened by the knowledge that all the pressure is on them.
All five of the MOD70s feature an all-star cast:
Race For Water
- Steve Ravussin (SUI)
- Yvan Ravussin (SUI)
- Loic Forestier (SUI)
- François Morvan (FRA)
- Gurvan Bontemps (FRA)
- Benoit Lequin (FRA)
- Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA)
- Xavier Revil (FRA)
- Emmmanuel Le Borgne (FRA)
- Antoine Carraz (FRA)
- Jérémie Beyou (FRA)
- Sébastien Col (FRA)
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild
- Sébastien Josse (FRA)
- Antoine Koch (FRA)
- Christophe Espagnon (FRA)
- David Boileau (FRA)
- Florent Chastel (FRA)
- Thomas Rouxel (FRA)
- Yann Guichard (FRA)
- Pascal Bidégorry (FRA)
- Jean Baptiste Levaillant (FRA)
- Jacques Guichard (FRA)
- Léo Lucet (FRA)
- Kevin Escoffier (FRA)
- Sidney Gavignet (FRA)
- Ryan Breymaier (USA)
- Fahad Al Hasni (OMA)
- Moshin Al Busaidi (OMA)
- Jean-François Cuzon (FRA)
- Brian Thompson (GBR)
Among the notables is Pascal Bidégorry, who skippered the Banque Populaire maxi-trimaran to claim the outright transatlantic record in 2009, sailing with Yann Guichard on Spindrift Racing. Banque Pop crew from the transat or their more recent Jules Verne Trophy record are scattered through the fleet from uber sailmaker Jean-Baptise Le Vaillant also on Spindrift, Yvan Ravussin and Kevin Escoffier on brother Stève Ravussin’s Race for Water while with Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia are Manu le Borgne and Xavier Revil, with Florent Chastel is on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and Brian Thompson on Mussandam-Oman Sail.
Also among Michel Desjoyeaux's crew is America’s Cup and World Match Race tour skipper Sébastien Col and double Solitaire du Figaro winner and IMOCA 60 skipper Jérémie Beyou, while Benoit Lequin on Race for Water has sailed the Atlantic from New York to Lorient on a 20 foot open catamaran.
Séb Josse, skipper of Groupe Edmond de Rothschild looked forward to the race: “Right now it is looking windy from start to finish and even the most conservative routing has us finished in less than six days. We have looked at all the options including those in which we fail to catch the system we are aiming for. With 24 hours before the start it appears like the great circle route (the shortest) is not the fastest. So the routings agree that mostly we will go south at the start and for the first half with a little hitch to the north near the end.”
Sidney Gavignet, skipper on Musandam-Oman Sail said: “We are racing and sometimes on our boat things are not always perfect like other boats and it is very easy to become frustrated. The role for me as the skipper is to be the keeper of a good atmosphere so we can learn well together. In the short term that will not be easy, but if we are to take our diversity as an advantage it is important we grow well together. In the long term this can prove to be a strength because we need to be more focused on the methods and the process because of the mix of levels on board and the difference of communication on board. It will be more or less ideal conditions.”
Michel Desjoyeaux, said: “We feel good, the crew did not spend too much time here and so they are not tired by downtown life.
I pushed hard to help the MOD company fulfil the one design concept, as hard as possible in the boat and around it and so I appreciate what we have. Of course I like technology and finding an advantage but these are not the times for that. This is about delivering something for the non multihull French culture. So we are looking further afield, hoping that more teams from outside France will come and race with us and against us. With the One Design concept everyone has the same boat that we have.”
Stève Ravussin added: “It will be about going fast and a short race in just a few days. We will get across in six days approximately at the best speed all the time. We will be wet and tired when we get to Brest but we look forwards to drinking some cider there!”
Yann Guichard, skipper of Spindrift Racing said: “The most important thing on this race is to be 100% comfortable with your team, because when you go to sleep you need complete confidence in the crew. We organise ourselves in three watches. Normally we will have three on deck and one floating, and a minimum of five for the manoeuvres. If we have to change sails or make a gybe then I am woken up.
Decisions are taken between me and Pascal, we share the decisions, we sail the same way. The weather looks good and simple, no big opportunities to go alone and leave the fleet. We will go downwind for four days and the most important thing will be the rhythm.”