Photos: Ricardo Pinto / MOD SA

Victory for Spindrift Racing

As the MOD70s ghost into Cascais at the end of the second leg of their European Tour

Wednesday September 12th 2012, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: Portugal

Crossing the finish line at 05:37:36 UTC  this morning Yann Guichard and the crew of Spindrift Racing won the 975 mile long second leg of the MOD70 European Tour from Dun Laoghaire to Cascais.

After finishing a close second in last week’s finish on  Leg 1 into Dun Laoghaire and also winning the City Race series on Dublin Bay, their Leg 2 victory has allowed Spindrift Racing to take the overall lead in the MOD70 European Tour, albeit only by a single point over the Michel Desjoyeaux-skippered Foncia.

It proved another close finish in painfully light winds, just as the sun was rising over Cascais. All four top finishers crossed the finish line within an hour. Foncia was second, Musandam-Oman Sail third having briefly led yesterday morning, and Groupe Edmond de Rothshchildfourth were each separated by just 400 metres as they glided gracefully across the line, the Omani MOD70 having conceded second in the final mile before the line.

After leaving Dun Laoghaire on Sunday afternoon, Spindrift Racing led around the Fastnet Rock on Monday morning, but lost out temporarily yesterday when Musandam Oman Sail, further offshore, took the lead as the boats were crossing the latitude of Cape Finisterre.

The leg to Portugal from Ireland delivered a whole range of conditions, with tough upwind sailing to Tuskar Rock off southeast Ireland and then Fastnet, followed by fast gennaker reaching south in bumpy seas until yesterday afternoon when an area of little wind to the east of a benign depression made the going tricky. The breeze diminished progressively over yesterday afternoon and last night  the crews had to deal with light winds for more than seven hours.

Guichard’s crew were back on top again early this morning. A key gybe at around 0300 this morning put them into the best of a strong new northeasterly breeze first, allowing Spindrift Racing to ease ahead  of Foncia. Then in brisk northerly winds boat speeds through the final hours of the race climbed spectacularly, regularly averaging over 30 ktnos.

But as dawn arrived over Cascais once again the finish was nail-biting to the end. A foreboding sense of déjà vu prevailed on board Guichard’s MOD70 with the potential threat of a repeat of the first leg finish into Dublin Bay when she lost out to Foncia in the final miles.

“It was really nerve racking because there you are doing thirty knots and drop suddenly to 2knots. We just looked at each other and said it is going to be like the first leg!” grinned a relieved Guichard on the dock.

Of how the intensity of the offshore racing is playing out, with the fleet always in visual contact with at least one or two boats over the entire passage he commented: “It is just so stressful because we are in contact all the time, you see each other. It’s certainly not like on the ORMA 60s where there was just such a difference in terms of boat speed you pretty much knew what the results before the race.”

From more than 30 knots Guichard’s leading MOD70 slowed to less than four in the millpond conditions for the final five miles off the Cascais coast. Foncia and Musandam-Oman Sail proved an ever increasing threat, still closing at more than 30 knots.

Finally only four miles separated the top four MOD70s, and Spindrift Racing’s margin was cut to less than one mile. In fact Spindrift Racing enjoyed a tiny breeze to the line while their pursuers were becalmed utterly on a glassy lake. Foncia, Musandam-Oman Sail and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, just equidistant from each other, slid under gennaker along the marina breakwater.

Stève Ravussin’s Race for Water finished less than a mile behind them in fifth. After leading from Ireland Ravussin’s crew lost a few hours repairing a small problem with their mainsail halyard lock.

Leg 2 finish times into Cascais (UTC)
1-Spindrift racing EUR (Yann Guichard, FRA) September 12 at 5h 37 '36: 2d 15h 37' 36 to 15.5 knots average
2 - FONCIA FRA (Michel Desjoyeaux FRA) at 6h 26 '49: 2d 16h 26' 49 (+49mins 13secs)
3 – Musandam- Oman Sail OMA (Sidney Gavignet FRA) at 6h 33 '22: 2d 16h 33' 22 (+55mins 46secs)
4 - Groupe Edmond de Rothschild FRA (Sébastien Josse FRA) 6h 37 '36: 2d 16h 37' 36 (1 hour)
5 - Race for Water SUI (Steve Ravussin SUI) 06:53:30 2d 16h 53m 30s +1hour 15m 54s

Full race results online:

Ranking MOD70 European Tour
(Kiel City Race Stage 1 + with + bonus + Dun Laoghaire City Race Stage 2 with bonus)
1 - Spindrift racing (Yann Guichard) 11 +47 +12 +52 = 122 Points
2 - FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux) 12 +53 +10 +46 = 121 Points
3-Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) 10 +44 +11 +41 = 106 Points
4 - Musandam, Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) 9 +34 +8 +42 = 93 Points
5 - Race for Water (Steve Ravussin) 8 +38 +9 +35 = 90 Points

Yann Guichard FRA, skipper Spindrift racing: “Another really very close finish! We all compressed again some 50 miles from the finish and then we managed to get away from the leading bunch to be able to win this leg. The first leg was tough, but this one too. We really did not sleep much and worked hard and are really happy to win this leg. The crew are really shattered, not quite but almost like a Route du Rhum. It is just so stressful because we are in contact all the time and you see each other. Not like on the ORMA 60s where there was just such a difference in terms of boat speed you pretty much knew what the ranking would be before the race.

It was really nerve wracking because there you are doing thirty knots and drop down to 2 and we just looked at each other and said it is going to be like the first leg!”

Michel Desjoyeaux, skipper FONCIA: “It was another very tight finish, one we could have done without as we had been speeding along at 30 knots along the Portuguese coastline and just about to change the sails to round the headland at Cascais to head in for the final finish line marks and the wind completely died down. The little wind that was there shifted and we just did not know what to do. There was complete calm over a few hours, lots of current and those behind us caught up and passed us. We did manage to get past them again in the bay, really fighting it out in the shifty breeze on the Bay.”

Sydney Gavignet, skipper Musandam-Oman Sail: “I feel a bit so so, but overall it was a good leg. What is important is the overall and from that point of view we did a good job, we learned a lot, about boat speed especially. We were in the match. We are satisfied. Learning is important for all of the boats, but especially us. We are a bit disappointed because we could have finished second, but only a little bit because it could have been fifth as well. I think it has been very good work. I think FONCIA were a little easier in the light winds, they sailed with the gennaker a little higher in the light winds than everyone else.”

Sébastien Josse, skipper Groupe Edmond de Rothschild: “We are not really happy, finishing fourth into Cascais. Two miles from the finish line we were close but that is racing, sometimes it happens like that. So it is fourth this time. It was a good race, windy to the Fastnet, good weather systems to manage, very close all the time. Always you are seeing one or two other competitors and that makes it intense.
It was good to be in the west, normally that would have been good, but then there was an option to manage when there was no wind, and we had to be west or east and unfortunately the east won out. Otherwise everything is good, we just need to keep working hard and continue to gel.”

Steve Ravussin SUI, skipper Race for Water: “We do not really have enough Swiss rigor on board, which is what I would like to have at times. We lost an hour with a stupid technical issue, which is something you can’t do on a MOD70 where the boats are the same and the crews are so good. We did manage to make up so ground though and were right behind FONCIA at one point. When you are in the front you make some decisions and then behind you make others.”


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