Three separate winners in Lisbon
Just as they did in Valencia, Sebastien Josse's crew on Edmond de Rothschild proved the masters of the short, high intensity inshore race courses Friday on the more compact confines and tricky currents of Lisbon's Tagus river, emerging from the first three races of the Route des Princes Portugese stopover with a narrow lead of two points for inshore series here.
In contrast to Valencia's open waters, the gusty, shifty winds on the Tagus presented a great challenge for the teams which enjoyed some spectacular fast racing as the breeze peaked at over 20 knots in the stronger gusts. But so too it dropped to present lighter periods during which big gains and losses could be made. Often the different flanks of the course had winds which were different in strength and direction.
Repeating their Valencia opening day pattern with a 1,3,2 Josse and crew were the most consistent over an afternoon which saw three different winners. Spindrift dominated the second race and Virbac-Paprec 70 was never challenged after making the best start on the third heat.
Edmond de Rothschild won the first inshore race after Sebastien Josse's team hit the front of the fleet on the second downwind run and then managed to hold on to take the first winning gun.
Although they lead off the start line, the shifty, puffy breeze made it difficult to stay with the best breeze on the downwind legs. Sidney Gavignet's Oman Air Musandam positioned themselves well to take the first of an incoming gust and rounded the leeward gate at the same time as leaders Spindrift.
The two split on the upwind leg of the windward leeward course which was set at an angle across the river. From the left Spindrift was able to extend around the top mark but the two leaders came away from the windward buoy on a lifted gybe in lighter airs. Edmond de Rothschild found a great gust and was able to sail a lower, faster angle to take the lead.
From the leeward gate they worked right, upriver and so kept Oman Air Musandam behind her in second. Spindrift, with Xavier Revil on the helm, again standing in for Yann Guichard, took third.
With the windward mark off the Praca do Comercial on the city's old town waterfront proved, racing proved spectacular in the 12-17 knots of northeasterly breeze with three of the four MOD70s leading at different stages in the first heat, setting the tone for the afternoon.
With the breeze having built to a mean of 15 knots, but still with some big lulls, Spindrift won the second race. The course was set with a fast reach off the start line along the city bank towards the 25th April bridge. Virbac Paprec 70 struggled at the right hane end of the start line and had to make a sudden turn after the gun to get down to the line. Spindrift were best off the line and built a big lead early on while the three pursuing MOD70s all scrapped over second to fourth.
Edmond de Rothschild came back at Spindrift on the upwind and especially on the second downwind, while Oman Air Musandam struggled this time and finished some distance behind in fourth.
A great call on the second beat by Jean Pierre Dick's team found them with a fast high angle in to the last turning buoy and Virbac Paprec 70 were able to just steal second at the buoy leading Edmond de Rothschild across the line.
Jean Pierre Dick's crew went one better in the third and final race of the day. They were quickest off the line and able to accelerate away to a handy lead before the first mark. Oman Air Musandam was second until the second beat when she was passed by Edmond de Rothschild. With a deficit of some 50m as they sprinted for the finish line, Oman Air Musandam launched her gennaker in a last gasp effort to get back past, but it was to no avail. Having been uncharacteristically slow off the start line Spindrift finished a slightly up-and-down day with a fourth place.
Josse stated: "It is okay, the same as Valencia for us, 3,2,1 it is more tricky race area because the wind is really shifty with a lot of current. So it was never over. Our laylines were good. Seb ‘Eagle Eyes’ Col was on great form. We had really good boat handling with everyone and that allows Seb Col to have the confidence to make the calls later, sometimes for the leeward gate. And that made the difference sometimes. When it came to manoeuvres I think we were a little bit better. Our starts was usually good. It was not so important to lead off the start line because sometimes the wind was in the right on the left side of the course and sometimes the other way around, there was a transition in the middle so you were never knowing whether you would gybe set or not.
"It was stressful the wind was quite shifty. It is a very beautiful course area seeing the city as the backdrop, spectacular, but that made it difficult with the breeze.”
Meanwhile the Multi50 fleet have had the start of their Leg 2 offshore leg from Lisbon to Dun Laogahire, Dublin Bay advanced because of the anticipated arrival of an intense low pressure system.
The system is due over Cape Finisterre on Monday morning and so the Multi50s will set off tomorrow Saturday at 1500 after making a short, eight miles circuit in the river, joined by the MOD70s and the Ultimate Prince de Bretagne, before the four Multi 50s Arkema - Aquitaine, Actual, FenêtréA-Cardinal and Rennes-Saint-Malo Agglomeration head out to the sea. The MOD70s will then race their three inshore races from 1600.
Lisbon Inshore Series after three races MOD70
1. Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) 24 pts ;
2. Virbac-Paprec 70 (Jean-Pierre Dick) 22 pts ;
3. Spindrift (Xavier Revil) 20 pts ;
4. Oman Air-Musandam (Sidney Gavignet) 18 pts.
Clip Lisbonne inshore by routedesprincesTV