Foncia on top in Dublin City Races
Nothing was easy or straightforward for the five crews of the MOD70 European Tour on their first day of City Races on Dublin Bay off Dun Laoghaire’s East Pier, but it was Michel Desjoyeaux and the crew of Foncia that emerged with the best points tally from the three City Races.
Very early in the first race Foncia struggled a little, but after that they were the team which were most cohesive and consistent around the race course, their victory in the third race being the hardest earned when the gentle southeasterly was turned inside out and left the race arena riddled with very calm patches.
The afternoon started well for Yann Guichard’s Spindrift Racing crew but ended in frustration. They won the first race, were runner’s up in the second. But after they lead the final race they sailed into a localised millpond off Sandy Cove on the first downwind and the chasing pack sailed around them.
The start line was set within 100m of the East Pier and Race direction set the short leg of the triangle shaped course almost parallel to the pier, which gave the assembled crowd of spectators a close up view of much of the action.
After making the best starts in Kiel, it looked as if Foncia had carried that momentum forward to Dublin Bay when they broke the start line first, but it was Guichard’s Spindrift Racing and Race for Water which had better speed. Foncia was fourth at the top gate of the course.
On the first downwind Guichard and crew wisely chose the inshore path and were rewarded with a good lead which they held to the finish. Foncia took second, Race for Water third and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild fourth.
After touching the bottom before the start Musandam-Oman Sail took the precaution to return to the harbour at the National Yacht Club to make an assessment of possible damage. Quick reactions ashore by the Oman Sail shore team, from Foncia and the Gitana shore crew meant that they could swap the damaged one for a new one and get back out to the race course in time for the second start.
“We were ready for a good day of inshore racing. All our minds were focussed and we were out on the race course early to practice,” said skippper Sidney Gavignet. “We decided to practice a pre-start and the start line is very close to the rocks – about six boat lengths – and we hit a rock! Navigator Jef Cuzon checked the depth and said we must tack but these boats take a long time to turn so we damaged the daggerboard before the race started.”
Clearly upset Gavignet said they had no option but to return to shore to assess the damage, but he praised the support of Foncia. “I must say a big thank you to the Foncia team for proposing that we use their spare daggerboard. The good news is that our boat is safe and we can keep sailing."
In the second race Foncia managed the start well and were able to lead all the way around the course from Spindrift Racing. With the breeze slightly more to the south it made the course a little more one sided.
But it was the third race which was the most random and most difficult. That was obvious from the start when the breeze was extremely light in the start area. Guichard’s crew seem to be most attuned to what was happening and set up on a high lay line for the start line, which allowed them to use their gennaker twice to build speed to get them to the line. That proved key as the MOD70 with the black hull and sails, was able to escape to what might otherwise have been an unassailable lead.
Musandam-Oman Sail and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild found themselves with hardly any wind at all, only 20m close to the pier where the new offshore breeze was just not reaching. It was a matter of four or five minutes before this unfortunate duo made it across the line.
As Spindrift Racing led up the second leg the breeze folded completely as a northerly wind generated by a big, dark cloud crawled progressively down the arena to partially replace the southerly.
The inshore area off Sandy Cove developed the biggest hole in the breeze which swallowed the race leader which remaining rooted to the spot while the pack behind were able to see their predicament and try to do something different.
Foncia managed to pick their way up this second leg with the best breeze. Race for Water and Groupe Edmond Rothschild took the longest and most offshore route, but sailed in consistent pressure for much of this leg. After taking the lead before the top gate Desjoyeaux and crew were able to extend while Josse and the Groupe Edmond de Rothschild team were rewarded with second. Spindrift Racing finally took fourth, ahead of Musandam-Oman Sailing.
Commenting on the day's racing Michel Desjoyeaux said: “For sure you can be more satisfied to come ashore with good results after a day like that, it was not easy but the crew worked hard to take every opportunity that came to use and I think we did a good job with that. Our starts were not so good. The first one was bad and we had to do a lot to get back into that race.
"In fact there is a committee working all the time to make decisions where we go and what we will do, between myself Charles (Caudrelier) and Xavier (Revil) depending on what is happening, but at the end of that process I am on the helm and sometimes take the decision depending on what I feel on the helm and see in the sails. We have a good organisation on board though, a good mood and good confidence on board and that makes a difference because everyone is good here, it is very tight.”
Yann Guichard added: “It was not great but not bad for us. The first race was good for us and the last race we lead for one leg with that big advantage but we saw the wind dropping, we tried to gybe and get out of there but there was nothing we could do. We were stopped. This is part of the game though, you sail close to the shore and the wind will drop like that, that is the game we play.”
Three further City Races scheduled for Saturday starting at 2 p.m.
Dun Laoghaire City Race after three City Races
1- Foncia (Michel Desjoyeaux) 11+12+12 = 35 points
2- Spindrift Racing (Yann Guichard) 12+11+9 = 32 points
3-Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) 9+10+11 = 30 points
4- Race for Water (Stève Ravussin) 10+9+10 = 29 points
5-Musandam-Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) 8+8+8 = 24 points