Spindrift blazes out of Lisbon
Yann Guichard and the crew of Spindrift led the Route des Princes MOD70 fleet out of Lisbon’s Tagus river, taking the bonus points at the C1 mark by Cascais, setting a fast, intense pace in the very early stages of the 990 miles second leg to Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.
On the short inshore loop over which Lisbon bid goodbye to the MOD70s and the Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne, Spindrift was quick to establish a lead, using the favourable wind bend along the south shore of the river and extending again on the downwind leg back to one last turn off the Praça do Comerció before heading for the open Atlantic.
This leg, via the famous Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland promises several strategic keys. After an initial ridge on the ascent of the Portuguese coast, the first to be managed will be the transition around the centre of a depression that will reach them just around Cape Finisterre early tomorrow. The balancing act is to time the move to be closest to the centre, gaining maximum breeze and the quickest access to the fast reaching in the easterly winds which will offer a fast, mostly direct course towards the Fastnet.
Guichard showed no effect from having just returned to Lisbon this morning three hours before the start having been competing in Saturday's Bol d’Or Mirabaud. The black and white MOD70 was quickly back in control of the fleet.
Spindrift navigator Pascal Bidégorry was looking forwards to a leg with a few more strategic options and a bit more going on than Leg 1 from Valencia to Lisbon: “It will be important to take the bonus point for getting out of the river at Cascais. Then it will be a close reach and you have to manage before we get start to aim towards the centre of the depression. We will go round the east of the centre of the depression around Cape Finisterre with favourable winds, around 25 knots. It will be hard then, but not violent. At the back of it we will be reaching quite fast before the wind will drop for the difficult between Fastnet and Dublin. It will be an interesting leg from strategic point of view. There is a lot which will happen but it would be good to be getting to each of them first and taking the points on the table. There will be a lot to do in the south of Ireland. It will be nice."
Sébastien Josse, skipper of Edmond de Rothschild added: "We are going to have quite varied conditions. After bright sunshine at the start it will cloud over in the evening as we get into the passage of the depression in the Bay of Biscay. It should be okay as it comes from the right. After that it will be less easy to manage the approach to Fastnet and at the end of the course it will be a bit more random. So there will be a lot of manoeuvring to do and there will be quite a lot of rain and it will be mostly cloudy. But in any case we are returning to sea areas we know rather better and where the weather data is likely to be more accurate, unlike the Mediterranean. I think it will be a race with a lot of close contact and a lot of manoeuvring. And it will be quite fast I think, Dublin in less than three days. We are looking forwards to an offshore race in which we are all a bit more in touch with one another, closer than the first leg. And in my opinion every point gained will be invaluable in terms of the final podium.”
Sidney Gavignet skipper of Oman Air-Musandam said: “The big picture is a low pressure system which is not too big, just NW of Cape Finisterre so we will have some wind but not too much, not crazy. The main thing is to get around the low pressure as close to the centre as possible but not to get too close or you fall into the light winds. We have to do that well. There are not so many options. The main thing is to just to do it well. Ten miles east or west can magnify into a much bigger distance lost or gained. And we know that with these boats if you get more wind than someone else you can just be gone. So it is not so sure that the rounding of the low will be the absolute key but will it be crucial? Maybe not because the wind will be light towards the end. The race will be still long after rounding the centre of the low. When it is light if someone goes away with a little gust you can get away as well.
"For me navigation is almost new. I did some when I was with the Figaro but not much since. And on the Figaro you don’t have the GRIB files on board, you prepare and go. Here it is new GRIB’s all the time and so that I am finding is pretty fascinating. I think it is intense for everyone. We are not all doing everything but it is intense for everyone. I am well surrounded. I have such a level of experience. I like that intense. We don’t have more confidence. Every leg is a new leg. We have a good atmosphere on board and when we take an option we take it all together. We take that and don’t stress. We take our decision. We follow our choices and stick with it.”
Jean Pierre Dick, skipper of Virbac Paprec 70 said: “It is going to be pretty strange with a lot of different wind directions. The most difficult part will be how to handle the depression, the low pressure. We are going to be very close to the middle, not too close, trying to be on the best route as possible. And, again, mostly upwind. The transition in the low might be key. I am navigator offshore and less of a helmsman. And as navigator it is more stressful to have Vincent (Riou) and Bilou (Roland Jourdain) at my back"
So the consensus is that this will be a fast leg, three days or perhaps just less depending on how quick or slow the final 190 miles from Fastnet to the finish might be. Many of the teams will recall that last year’s finish of the European Tour in Dun Laoghaire, which saw three boats finish within five minutes of each other on the line.
For sure the sunshine and warm temperatures of Lisbon will give way to an Atlantic greyness, overcast skies with rain and cooler temperatures.
Up ahead, having left 24 hours before, during Saturday afternoon, the leading Multi 50s were in a fresh 25 knots breeze northwest of Cape Finisterre having made great time from Lisbon. Average speeds were of the order of 22 knots when Actual, FenêtréA-Cardinal and Arkema - Aquitaine passed the Cape around midday. Rennes - Saint-Malo Agglomeration was around 100 miles behind from the leader Actual. Already, strategies are emerging with Actual working east and in the west FenêtréA-Cardinal and Arkema-Aquitaine. In the coming hours the weather looks set to be complicated, winds variable in strength and direction meaning a nice puzzle for the navigators and lots of hard work on the deck.
MOD70s order at the buoy C1 (local time UTC+1h)
1 Spindrift (Yann Guichard) at 16h07'00 '
2. Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) 16h07'40''
3. Musandam Oman Air (Sidney Gavignet) to 16h10'05''
4. Prince de Bretagne (Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne) to 16h25'00''
5. Virbac-Paprec 70 (Jean-Pierre Dick) 16:29 00 '
Multi50 ranking of 15 UTC
1: Actual (Yves Le Blevec) to 791.78 miles from the finish
2 FenêtréA-Cardinal (Erwan Le Roux) + 15.13 miles
3: Arkema - Aquitaine Region (Lalou Roucayrol) + 37.54 miles
4: Rennes - Saint-Malo Agglomeration (Gilles Lamiré) + 109.87 miles