Spindrift Racing claws back a point
In winning the Marseille City Race, Yann Guichard’s Spindrift Racing did all that they possibly could, over five races on the bay off Marseille, to improve their chance of overhauling overall leaders Foncia to win the MOD70 European Tour, but with Michel Desjoyeaux’s crew finishing in second the overall difference between the two title chasers is cut only by one point.
When Sunday’s final offshore starts, the 651 mile long leg 5 from Marseille to Genoa, the difference between the two will still be seven points in Foncia's favour. Yet with the same kind of variable, unpredictable weather which has marked the Marseille City Race series due to prevail for much of the final passage, anything could happen.
Races 4 and 5 were finally contested after a long delay awaiting a settled breeze to arrive and a massive rain storm of monsoon proportions to clear. But the wait was mostly worth it as the skies cleared to offer one good race with fast sailing across the top reach parallel to the Frioul islands, and a second contest which saw an interesting reshuffle at the first turning mark when the breeze died and shifted.
The first race was Foncia’s from the moment they cleared the start line ahead, with speed and with Spindrift Racing OCS. But despite restarting and tracking fifth early in the two lap triangle course, Guichard’s crew – with Olympic bronze medallist Nicholas Charbonnier calling tactics – rescued a useful third place.
The second race shaped up to be potentially the most exciting of the Marseille regatta as Spindrift and Foncia came off the start line from opposite ends at pace. Foncia, low from the pin end, picked up more speed, but could not quite close down their rivals. Spindrift Racing led around the first turn while Foncia sailed on a little distance, closed out by Musandam-Oman Sail to windward. Remarkably just Spindrift Racing and Sidney Gavignet’s crew were the only two to emerge from this buoy smoothly. Foncia stalled. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild emerged, but had to take penalty turns. Race for Water reversed back out of the melee and ultimately retired to cap a disappointing day for Stève Ravussin’s crew, who had been looking to close out their first City Race win.
So Spindrift Racing earn a point against Foncia and become the only team to have won two City Race series, adding to their victory in Dun Laoghaire, but importantly skipper Guichard was pleased to feel they have seized the initiative for the final leg: "Winning here is good for morale. I am happy to win the last season City Race. It is just one point off Foncia’s lead, but it is positive. We are just seven points behind on the overall scoreboard. Now, we must look ahead. There are three points to earn on the small coastal course, which will be crucial on the overall results. I'm happy because we sailed well today and yesterday, we kept our cool on board. We have had a few crew changes and have also made more progress in the City Races. In Marseille we had Nicolas Charbonnier and Fred Brousse on board. They brought us an extra level on both pure strength and tactics.”
Overall leader Michel Desjoyeaux added: "We are second behind Spindrift Racing here, which is not too bad since starting here was quite tough and then today, really complicated, but we were able to win a race today. Tonight, we have a seven points lead on Spindrift. A lot can be won or lost between the bonus points after the initial inshore part of the race tomorrow and the finish in Genoa. Right now, whatever happens, we can do no worse than second place. This is the result of three weeks of hard work from the crew. We are able to push right up to the end and that is what we aim to do. At the end of the day it is the sport that will decide…”
Third overall in the Marseille City Race for Sidney Gavignet’s Musandam-Oman Sail is their third podium finish from the last four events and keeps them in third overall on the MOD70 European Tour standings. Gavignet’s team sailed confidently and smoothly and took their opportunities when they could, to finish second twice today.
Gavignet commented: “It is cool to get third, we had not such a good day yesterday. Between a good start and a bad start is nothing. And after all that we are on the podium again, nothing is changed for the last leg, we are ahead of the guys who are fighting with us for the overall and we still have to do good on the final leg. It would be nice if we could score some points on the little prologue leg. We are the only boat in the fleet who have not done that so far. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, which is behind us have scored seven points on these little loops, so if we can even do something on these little loops then it would be helpful.”
Marseille City Race results
1 Spindrift Racing 54 pts 1,4,2,3,1
2 Foncia 52pts 5,1,3,1,4
3 Musandam-Oman Sail 50pts 4,2,5,2,2
4 Race for Water 49pts 2,3,1,5,5
5 Groupe Edmond de Rothschild 44pts 3,5,4,4,3
MOD 70 European Tour Overall Standings after Marseille City Race
1 Foncia 236pts
2 Spindrift Racing 229pts
3 Musandam-Oman Sail 203pts
4 Race for Water 202pts
5 Groupe Edmond de Rothschild 194pts