Foncia leads out of Kiel
Michel Desjoyeaux and the crew of Foncia appeared to be making the most of the early jump which they established off the start line in front of Kiel’s big Sunday afternoon crowd, and were leading the MOD70 European Tour fleet on the complicated, intense passage up the east coast of Denmark already making fast miles on the first hours of Leg 1 to Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.
Foncia, which has Volvo Ocean Race winner Charles Caudrelier as navigator, thrilled the spectators who lined the bank of the Kiel Fjord when they sprinted off the start line on port gybe under gennaker in 12-14kts of SW’ly breeze, to seize a big, immediate advantage.
The French crew, which had already won the inshore Betfair City Race series were able to then collect the bonus of 3 points before showing their rivals the way out of the Fjord. In contrast, the start of Stève Ravussin’s Race for Water, with Franck Cammas on the helm, cost them when they failed to cross the line at the gun and had to sail back upwind, immediately losing some three minutes on the leaders.
The seemingly ever-consistent Groupe Edmond de Rothschild left in second place with Yann Guichard’s Spindrift Racing taking the one bonus point for third.
Under full mainsail and gennaker the fleet were accelerating north on Sunday evening, climbing to nearly 25 knots of boat speed at times but constantly on the lookout for shipping traffic on this busy area en route out to the Baltic Sea.
These first miles might be fast and relatively easy, with Foncia in command and Race for Water positioning themselves slightly more to the east compared with their rivals, working their way out to the Storebæltsbroen bridge, but the winds are expected to build and veer for an unpleasant, testing passage across the north tip of Denmark, with 30 knot headwinds at times, set only to diminish as they approach Belgium.
The 1238 miles passage looks like it will fall into four stages: a fast passage up the east coast of Denmark, mainly headwinds down to the Channel, a light, tactical battle along the English coast in a high pressure ridge, building breeze to Land’s End and a sting in the tail being light or very winds for the final 200 miles up to Dublin.
Indeed the winners of Leg 1 might be the team that breaks free first of this final calm. Current predictions have the first boats arriving Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
“Unlike on the Figaro we are not likely to stay in a tight group: a small change of wind direction, or rise or fall in pressure can make a big difference on these multihulls. But also bear in mind a 20 miles gap on these is nothing,” earned Race for Water’s navigator/helm Cammas, “And when we get to the Irish Sea it can be very light, less than five knots of wind.”
Kiel, Start bonuses
1 FONCIA 3pts
2 Groupe Edmond de Rothschild 2pts
3 Spindrift racing 1pt