The shortest leg so far of the MOD70 European Tour, Leg 3, cut to just 213 miles, is set to endure some of the lightest winds yet. But the points available for this brief tour out of Cascais are just the same and as equally vital as the two preceding legs from Kiel to Dublin and from Dublin to Cascais.MOD70 European Tour leaders Spindrift Racing, which started this afternoon with a four point lead on the overall leaderboard, saw the advantage reduced to just two points after Foncia collected the maximum bonus for the prologue at the scoring gate.
The weather is certainly was not what was hoped for when the ‘Around Portugal’ race, offshore leg 3 of the MOD70 European Tour was originally planned. In theory it should have been a chance to showcase the MOD70s' high performance in the Portuguese trade winds.
Instead light and unstable breezes are expected, requiring a short course to be set, to the Berlengas Islands to the NNW of Cascais, just out off the cape at Peniche, then back to Sines, which is to the south of the Tagus and a return to finish in Cascais. In essence the passage is north about 58 miles, back past Cascais with another 50 miles down and 50 miles back to a finish hopefully Tuesday afternoon.
The highly competitive prologue stage, as usual offering bonus points to the top three through the scoring gate, saw Foncia starting best on the very competitive upwind leg to a turning buoy off the entrance to Cascais Marina in a southwesterly breeze of around 10-12 knots.
After the windward mark Foncia opened a little more margin on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild while the three which had stayed closer to the shore – Spindrift Racing, Race for Water and Musandam-Oman Sail followed in that order. At the scoring gate it was Foncia which collected the three points bonus, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild two points and Spindrift Racing one point.
Once out of the bay of Cascais the breeze was set to build a little, turning WNW to about 10 knots forcing the MOD70s to stay close along the Biscaia cliffs. Thus there are few tactical opportunities expected before the long tack out to the islands archipelago. The upwind may be virtually devoid of different option, but overnight calms are forecast and then the leg down to Sines will be downwind and difficult. But with some stormy cloudy conditions during the morning there will be some gusty, wet conditions Tuesday morning but the breeze may then stay reasonable to the finish.
Yann Guichard, skipper of Spindrift Racing commented: “There will not be very much wind at all and is going to be tough; it will be a short leg compared to the others, but it will be just as important. It will be tricky but has the same points as the others so it is important to do well. To set up the boat for these light conditions we take only one kite, and the spares on the boat are kept very light, the food is very light and we have no big boots, no heavy foul weather gear. We will see… In these conditions it is so hard to trim the boat and to steer the boat.
"In the really light winds there can be very big differences in speed between the boats, especially when the wind is two or three knots. At two or three knots, a puff, you can be making six knots while the others are sitting at three knots, and so it is very important. Upwind we keep the kite up but then it can be difficult to trim the boat with kite particularly on the tacks.
"Now we are half way through the MOD70 European Tour with just a four point lead. It is really close and so we have to sail well, you can’t mark the other boats, no match racing. We expect sea breezes in the afternoon and so most will stay very close together, I don’t foresee anyone going off alone, same speeds, same boats and so you have to stay focused and in contact with the others.”
Emmanuel Le Borgne trimmer-helm on Foncia added: “This race is very short and so we will not have a watch system but we still stay fully alert to the finish line. We are going to have to make sure we all retain energy levels high right to the finish line, sleeping only at the right moments so that we stay efficient right up to the end.
"We try to take as little stuff on board as we can. We just take the very lightest of clothes. For each leg we try to keep the energy up because every point is precious. Each race is important. We need to be in front of Spindrift racing. We are still too far from the end of the MOD70 European Tour to be thinking about match racing or staying close. We hope to be ahead of them into the finish here tomorrow. It is not a problem to be behind Spindrift just now, the mood on board is good. We need to perform like we did in Kiel where we won or Dublin when we were second. Everybody on board just wants to keep improving and gain maximum points.”
Overall standings of the MOD70 European Tour after scoring gate Cascais
(Kiel City Race + 1st stage bonus + Dun Laoghaire City Race + 2nd stage bonus + Cascais City Race + Cascais bonus)
1- Spindrift racing (Yann Guichard) 11+47+12+52+11+1 = 134 points
2- FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux) 12+53+10+46+8+3 = 132 points
3-Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) 10+44+11+41+10+2 = 118 points
4- Musandam-Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) 9+34+8+42+12 = 105 points
5- Race for Water (Stève Ravussin) 8+38+9+35+9 = 99 points