MOD70 European Tour sets sail Sunday
Six points scoring Betfair City Races in the compact confines of the Kiel Fjord are expected to draw large, vociferous crowds as the perfect, high intensity prelude to Sunday’s send off for the MOD70 European Tour’s 1200 miles first leg to Dùn Laoghaire, Dublin.
Thursday was a light winds dress rehearsal, an important Media Day to introduce the MOD70 concept of high speed, evenly matched one design offshore trimarans to an enthusiastic German media. Honours were shared between Musandam-Oman Sail and Foncia over the two practice races, which proved a useful introduction to the very tight boundaries of the race course - the fjord is only 750 metres at the widest part of the course narrows to about 350 metres.
Close action is assured and local organisers are confident the sailing-mad citizens of Kiel Sailing City will turn out in their tens of thousands between Friday and Saturday’s package of six City Races – three per afternoon - and for Sunday afternoon’s start to Leg 1.
The short course City Race series are scheduled in Kiel, Dublin, Cascais and Marseille comprising about 20% of the points available on MOD70 European Tour which links Kiel, Dublin, Cascais, Marseille and will finish in Genoa, Italy on 2 October.
Over the next five weeks the five MOD70s will take on some 5,000 miles of offshore racing on legs of between 550 and 1200 miles in length. The longest, and what looks likely to be the toughest is the first leg. Two course options are available – round the rugged north of Scotland, down the west of the Hebrides through the North Channel to Dùn Laoghaire, Dublin, or through the Channel and the Celtic Sea. Already forecasts are predicting a low pressure system in the north with more than 35 knots of wind.
The mix of tough offshore legs and short course intense racing and the fact there is just one rest day at each stop, with the exception of Marseille where there are more, places a premium on offshore skills and experience – especially weather and routing, but also physical strength, focus and stamina sustained over the next five weeks. In that mix there needs to be changes of top level helms and trimmers as well as the hardware skills to keep the boats in top racing condition offshore. So crew choices have been varied.
New to the MOD70 and the Multi One Championship is the recent Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper Franck Cammas who sails as navigator on Stève Ravussin's Race for Water, with his hugely accomplished Groupama crewmate Thomas Coville on board as a helm-trimmer. Also from the winning Groupama team is Charles Caudrelier who will be navigator on Foncia.
Others with a strong background in the Volvo Ocean Race are Kiel’s Michi Mueller who joins his former Puma crew mate Sidney Gavignet on Musandam-Oman Sail for the inshore races, while Groupe Edmond de Rothschild’s skipper Sébastien Josse led ABN AMRO Two in the 2005-6 Volvo Ocean Race.
There are a good cross section of Olympic class sailors, mainly from the Tornado such as Spindrift Racing skipper Yann Guichard who was fourth in Sydney in 2000, behind Germany’s bronze medal winning Roland Gaebler who is colour commentator here, but also Xavier Revil (Foncia) Christophe Espagnon (Groupe Edmond de Rothschild) and Olivier Douillard (Groupe Edmond de Rothschild). Tanguy Cariou (Race for Water) sailed the 470 in Sydney and was 1998 World Champion. From Musandam-Oman Sail, Jef Cuzon was 1999 470 World Champion and Thomas Le Breton narrowly missed Olympic selection for the Finn class for 2008.
There are match racers like Francois Morvan (Race for Water) and Julien Falxa (Foncia) and America’s Cup winner Nicolas Texier (Foncia), while with a background on the solo Solitaire du Figaro there are Yann Eliès, the 2012 winner who joins Spindrift Racing, Thierry Chabagny (Foncia) and Thomas Rouxel (Groupe Edmond de Rothschild).
Jules Verne Record holders present and past include Emmanuel Leborgne (Foncia), Texier, Jean-Baptiste Levaillant (Spindrift Racing), Florent Chastel (Groupe Edmond de Rothschild), Kevin Escoffier (Spindrift racing) and Britain’s Brian Thompson (Musandam-Oman Sail).
Past alumni of the Vendée Globe include double winner Desjoyeaux, Eliès, Josse, Thompson and Coville.
Crew line up for the MOD70 European Tour:
Race For Water: Steve Ravussin (SUI), Yvan Ravussin (SUI), Franck Cammas (FRA), Thomas Coville (FRA), François Morvan (FRA), Loïc Forestier (SUI), Tanguy Cariou (FRA), Nicolas Heintz (FRA), Gurvan Bontemps (FRA), Benoît Lequin (FRA)
Foncia: Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA), Antoine Carraz (FRA), Thierry Chabagny (FRA), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), Emmanuel Leborgne (FRA), Xavier Revil (FRA), Alban Rosselin (FRA), Nicolas Texier (FRA), Julien FALXA (FRA)
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild: Sébastien Josse (FRA), David Boileau (FRA), Florent Chastel (FRA), Cyril Dardashti (FRA), Olivier Douillard (FRA), Christophe Espagnon (FRA), Antoine Koch (FRA), Thomas Rouxel (FRA)
Spindrift Racing: Yann Guichard (FRA), Léo Lucet (FRA), Pascal Bidégorry (FRA) Jacques Guichard (FRA), Jean-Baptiste Levaillant (FRA), Yann Eliès (FRA), Kevin Escoffier (FRA), Devan Le Bihan (FRA)
Musandam-Oman Sail: Sidney Gavignet (FRA), Fahad Al Hasni (OMA), Mohsin Al Busaidi (OMA), Khamis Al Amburi (OMA), Brian Thompson (GBR), Jean-François Cuzon (FRA), Thomas Le Breton (FRA), Michi Mueller (GER)