Fickle Portugese coast
Fortune tellers are part and parcel of Lisbon’s Popular Saints Festival and in particular the Feast of Saint Anthony that will be in full swing when the Route des Princes fleet arrives. Their skills might have been called on today by some of the MOD70 and Multi 50 crews trying to find out what will happen to the breeze between Gibraltar and the finish line in Lisbon – especially up until Cape Saint Vincent, but Sébastien Josse, skipper of Edmond de Rothschild appeared to think the future belongs to Oman Air-Musandam.
With a lead which remained relatively steady around 20 miles today, Josse stated that he thinks that Sidney Gavignet’s crew might be uncatchable. "Oman are not really catchable. But up to Spindrift is open, but at the same time we need to keep Virbac behind us in third place.”
With some 230 miles to sail for Oman Air-Musandan at mid-afternoon today, the winner might be expected in Lisbon during Wednesday afternoon depending on how the wind holds up tonight on the Bay of Cadiz.
An upwind leg into a northerly wind is expected as the fleet climbs the Portuguese coast towards Lisbon tomorrow. Gavignet’s team had lost a few miles to Spindrift late this afternoon as they slowed slightly, getting into the more gentle wind off the Bay of Cadiz, but the ‘accordion effect’ should favour whoever reaches the corner of Portugal first where winds should be fresher.
The gap from second placed Spindrift back to Edmond de Rothschild had grown to some 52 miles, as the chasing duo had slightly less wind through the earlier part of the day. Most of the MOD70 crews affirmed that the shape of this leg was really set on Sunday night at the Benicarlo mark and down to Cabo de La Nao just south of Valencia. Crew from both Edmond de Rothschild and Virbac Paprec 70 reported how Spindrift had spirited themselves away in one private puff of breeze when they were only 100m from them and they have no real tactical opportunities since then.
“That explains the differences between us and Oman which stayed offshore” Josse reported, “At the coast, nearer the land it was very random. Spindrift managed to find one puff and escaped and we were still stuck. But that is the game, there is always a reason for success and this time we were not part of it. So we need to remain patient and deal with what we have. With our deficit we have a bit less wind and the current is against us. Tonight we expect only light winds from the NW which will get stronger as we approach Cape St Vincent.”
From on board Spindrift , Erwan Tabarly added@ “We are manoeuvring all the time and so have the crew on deck. There is a little traffic right now but it is north of us in the DST, you are not allowed to go in there. Until this morning we were in regular watches but the last couple of hours everyone has been involved. We reduced sail to pass the Strait and have been tacking regularly. We have been with Prince de Bretagne since last night and is cool to race with them. For me it is the first time I have passed Gibraltar in a race. The Figaro rarely goes this way and so I am enjoying it.”
Roland Jourdain added from on board Virbac Paprec 70: "From the point of view of the weather it's been great because sometimes the Alboran Sea may be harder. We had a nice night but in terms of the ranking it could have been better! Edmond de Rothschild is not too far from us and so we can keep pushing. This is the Mediterranean at its best! There has not been much in terms of tactics and strategy. There was the game to the first buoy, Oman did well to sneak away to the east and we ended up with three boats near the land, we managed to get out of the light winds there with Spindrift and then when they were less than 100 metres away they were able to escape from us. That really is a truly Mediterranean scenario! It is the way it goes but sometimes it's annoying. Now, we have a wind of about 10 knots, the Strait of Gibraltar is getting closes, the sea is calm.”
The match race for the leadership of the Multi50 class continues apace. Lalou Roucayrol’s brand new Arkéma - Region Aquitaine and second placed Actual of Yves Le Blevec are not so much racing in sight of each other as nearly on top of one another. Roucayrol’s team was just over half a mile ahead of Le Blevec’s after leading past Tarifa 75 minutes after Oman Air Musandam. Gavignet and crew also won the two Gibraltar bonus points, adding to the two they earned Sunday night at Benicarlo.
Mayeul Riffet from Arkema – Region Aquitaine said today: “There is lots going on. Tomi our Italian is in the kitchen making pasta. Lalou is on the helm and Quentin our nipper is listening here with me. We are tacking all the time and the goal is not to lose too much speed in the manoeuvres. Sometimes that works. Since yesterday we have been in visual contact together. We managed to get into the lead yesterday taking a more offshore option and we got a little more wind. We have been working hard, a lot of stacking. We have not slept much but that’s not what we are out here for. We had 25 knots of wind and then it dropped away. Here we are getting out of the Straits with about 15kts and it is from the NW. We are going to make the whole course upwind. I have never seen the Med like this, we have taken two days to get to Gibraltar."
Meantime Prince de Bretagne, Lionel Lemonchois’ 80 footer has been enjoying some close racing with Spindrift though had extended away this afternoon and was some 12 miles to leeward of Oman Air Musandam which was 120 miles downwind of Cape St Vincent.
Passage times at Gibraltar:
Oman Air Musandam at 0915 UTC
Arkema – Région Aquitaine at 1030
Actual at 1045
Spindrift at 1115
Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne at 1125
Rankings at 1500 UTC
1 Arkéma - Region Aquitaine Lalou Roucayrol 232.39 miles to finish
2 Actual Yves Le Blevec at + 0.70 miles to leader
3 FenêtréA - Cardinal Erwan Le Roux at + 19.02 miles
1 Oman Air - Musandam Sidney Gavignet 212.19 miles to finish
2 Spindrift Yann Guichard + 16.12 miles to leader
3 Edmond de Rothschild Sébastien Josse at +68.77 miles to leader
4 Virbac - Paprec 70 Jean-Pierre Dick at +77.32 miles
1 Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne Lionel Lemonchois 228.14 miles to finish