Mark Lloyd / MOD SA

Spindrift Racing another point closer

Yann Guichard's team win bonus points at the start of the MOD70 European Tour's final leg

Sunday September 30th 2012, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: France

After some 3,700 miles of offshore racing, over four weeks since leaving Kiel on Sunday 2 September and 23 City Race heats in Kiel, Dun Laoghaire, Cascais and Marseille, it will be the final 651 miles leg to Genoa, Italy which will decide the MOD70 European Tour overall winner. But, according to the key players it might be the very last miles that settles it.

When the five MOD70s finally left Marseille, France this afternoon - at first drifting across the Rade Sud through a patchwork of calms for the crucial prologue around the Frioul Islands – scrapping for the six bonus points gained at the scoring gate on leaving the bay, the mathematical advantage was very firmly with Michel Desjoyeaux’s Foncia crew.

Yann Guichard’s Spindrift Racing collected the three points bonus, ahead of Foncia which gained two and Musandam-Oman Sail one, but Spindrift Racing now needs to have one boat between it and Foncia at the finish in Genoa if they are to wrestle the inaugural MOD70 European Tour title from Desjoyeaux’s crew.

For Spindrift Racing, which won the Krys Ocean Race in July and is the only team to have won two of the City Race stages on this tour, this may seem a big task. However most of the five teams expect this leg, and ultimately even the overall victory, to be settled on the very last miles as they approach Genoa.

It was the final minutes into Dun Laoghaire and Cascais which decided the finishing order of legs 1 and 2, so too this last showdown may still be settled over 40 difficult miles in light winds in the Gulf of Genoa on Tuesday morning.

Double Vendée Globe winner Desjoyeaux knows that victory will be only safe when they cross the line, just as Guichard’s crew will not give up hope until they hear their final finish gun. "We have our mission: to keep the momentum going, have fun, and do our job well. We have to accept mistakes and enjoy it when we do well, that is how we intend to go on. Regarding the duel with Spindrift... In my opinion, they will try to beat us on the next leg, but we will try and keep ahead. On this European Tour, it has been evenly shared with each of us having our moment of glory and then some less great moments. We have has some really hard fought battles on each of the legs. Lets hope that the winds are in the right direction, that the rain stops and that the best team win in Genoa!”

Yann Guichard countered: “I expect a tough leg. I am happy to be in second only seven points but it will be a tough leg. We have to win the race and put one or two boats behind us to Foncia, so it will hard but the forecast suggests it will be nice but tricky conditions. I am looking forwards to the race. I have been so many times on boats off Genoa and every time there is no wind when you arrive in the Bay. So you have to make your strategy before you arrive in the Bay. You have to pick your side, left or right. After that the game is done. I think that will be the key for the leg and perhaps the European Tour.”

The start out of Marseille was slow and painstaking, yet two hours into racing and the fleet are up to sailing at 20 knots. The northwesterly Tramontana filled in some 40 miles west of Marseille in the Gulf of Lion and should give a fast downwind passage all the way down to round Menorca late tonight.

Thereafter the evolution of a small low pressure to the east of the fleet will see the northwesterly back to the southwest to give a fast sail up to Corsica, but it will be the 80 miles upwind from the Giraglia and into the Gulf of Genoa in light airs which might be the most difficult.

Lying third on the MOD70 European Tour standings Sidney Gavignet and his crew on Musandam-Oman Sail, winners of Leg 4 into Marseille, effectively doubled their lead on Race for Water when they collected that one vital bonus point this afternoon. With four points allocated per offshore place, their surest strategy is simply to stay ahead of Race for Water to be sure of the third step on the podium.

Musandam-Oman Sail navigator Jef Cuzon said: “It is quite a short leg of 651 miles which will start in light conditions off Marseille with rain and really shifty winds and the first goal is to get out of this zone as to the west side of Marseille there is some northwesterly wind of 20-25 knots. So whoever gets there will get the advantage. That is the first goal, to reach that wind. And then after it is almost all downwind under gennaker, then some stronger winds off the north of Corsica, but that low is moving and evolving and so it is not clear what we will have. We can see 25-30 knots. The finish in genoa will be light, downwind and so we should have a new start a few hours before the finish. At the beginning it is not so easy for the navigators, but that is the Mediterranean, here you have to work more as a navigator. Our goal is to finish third but our goal is not to try and play with the other boats. We want to play our game, first and foremost. And then see what happens at the finish. As usual we set out to win the leg.”

MOD70 European Tour, Overall Standings at start of Leg 5, Marseille to Genoa (after Marseille Scoring Gate bonus)

1 Foncia (FRA), M Desjoyeaux (FRA) 238 pts
2 Spindrift racing (EUR), Y Guichard (FRA) 232 pts
3 Musandam-Oman Sail (OMA), S Gavignet (FRA) 204 pts
4 Race for Water (SUI), S Ravussin (SUI) 202pts
5 Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) S Josse (FRA) 194 pts


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