MOD70s off Suffolk
The second night at sea for the five MOD70s on the first leg of the MOD70 European Tour, racing between Kiel, Germany and Dun Laoghaire, Ireland sees the fleet compacted by the light winds as they race some 25 miles NNE of Great Yarmouth off England’s Norfolk coast early this Tuesday morning.
After racing more than 680 miles of a theoretical course of 1238 miles the five MOD70s are separated by some 42 miles from leader Spindrift Racing skippered by Yann Guichard to the fifth placed Race for Water of Stève Ravussin. Race for Water, where Volvo Ocean Race winner Franck Cammas as navigator, have regained more than 30 miles since yesterday afternoon.
"It's been a beautiful night with the moon and some clouds, very nice sailing!" reported Michel Desjoyeaux aboard second placed Foncia at 0500 UTC this morning. "In fact the wind began to slow when we arrived on the Dutch coast: a bubble of high pressure crossing the southern North Sea and we were quite slow. Now we are on the other side of the bubble near the English coast and we have fifteen knots of wind from the southwest. We must be careful because there are platforms everywhere and must slalom a bit! We are on a long tack towards the entrance of the Thames."
Speeds have remained decent through much of the second night, which proved relatively straightforward, concentrating on boat speed and changing gears for the fluctuations in wind speeds, which were mainly between 5-12 knots. For a spell as the leaders closed in on the Dutch coast last night the winds went very light, but the biggest test has been fulfilling the many marks of an obstacle course, missing sandbanks, oil and gas platforms, wind farms and maritime traffic channels. There will be little chance for further gains and losses over the next ten hours, 100 miles upwind to Dover where the next transition zone is expected. There, with almost calm conditions, further compression is expected as a second high pressure area bars the entrance to the Channel.
Foncia trailed Spindrift Racing by just less than 10 miles around dawn this morning, Yann Guichard’s crew slightly more to the south and upwind of Foncia. In third, Sebastien Josse’s Groupe Edmond de Rothschild have lost some small miles to the leaders, but mostly the order at the top is down to how hard they pushed on that first night at sea when the winds hit 30 knots.
Sebastien Josse reported from Groupe Edmond de Rothschild: "We are chasing hard to catch our rivals while making a slalom between sandbars, maritime traffic and oil platforms! From the tip of Skagen Denmark, we have had changing conditions, against the wind, but not necessarily unpleasant. When we enter the Channel it will be clearer with less course marks ... The weather situation is as we had on the routing and there are no options for us before the next zone of calms we expect in about ten hours, approaching the Pas de Calais. There is not really an option because we stick to the course through the buoys near the English coast, but it is an important transition area for this first step. Differences will be the same until Dover or shortly after because it is difficult to make up miles in these wind conditions. Initially we lost a few miles on passing Skagerrak mainly due to the state of the sea: some attacked more than others. Then the leaders were then slightly favoured by the more better conditions in front of the fleet, but the deltas are not prohibitive."