Foxall on home straight home
To Ireland’s 19th century emigrants who were heading for a new life across the Atlantic in America, the Fastnet Rock became known as Ireland’s Teardrop. But for Ireland’s Damian Foxall this morning, passing the legendary rock was reason for Irish sailing’s most successful export to smile.
Not only did the iconic light mark Foxall’s return to ‘home’ waters, those that he cut his offshore racing teeth on some 20 years or more ago before he moved to France to further his solo and short handed ocean racing career, but Oman Air-Musandam on which he is racing the Routes des Princes passed the Fastnet with a small, well earned lead on this second offshore leg, which started from Lisbon on Sunday.
Taking the two bonus points at the Fastnet was enough for Foxall’s Oman Air-Musandam to continue to lead the overall standings as the four MOD70s were set to take on the final 200 miles to the finish, up the southast and east coasts of Ireland to finish off Dun Laoghaire where they are expected very early Wednesday morning.
Foxall commented: "Last night was pretty nice conditions. Actually thinking back it was very nice conditions, not too rough. We were beating up the western approaches on the wind with a westerly current coming down the west coast and an northeastly flow coming down the Irish Sea. So fairly early we decided we would favour the left hand side, we would be in the left hand shift approaching Fastnet, and the other guys went the other way. So we basically stepped off a little more to the left this morning to cover them.
"When we were shy reaching into the Fastnet in good conditions, but had a little bit of a scare – well not a scare but a little bit of a stressful moment before the Fastnet when we we were doing about 28 knots and the rudder popped up. It must have hit something soft, like a Sunfish or something, but no stress, we slowed down and put it back in place. These central rudders are designed to kick up and so it was fine. Now it is going really light as we go around the Fastnet and the trick is when we start going NE whether everyone is going out into the SE’ly to try and step across. In the meantime all is going well. It is great to see the green fields of SW Cork and to see the Fastnet this morning.”
On being only Irish sailor in fleet Foxall commented: "I think I said thank you to Sidney this morning. I certainly don’t take these things for granted. I am very privileged first of all to be racing these boats and also most importantly to be leading the fleet around Fastnet. And of course taking valuable points. Spindrift have got points from the Cascais mark, and we picked up this one. But there is meant to be a race re-start and we can see all the other boats around about us, so it does not really mean too much. We are trying to hang on in what is going to be a very difficult final 24 hours or so, round the SE coast and up the east coast of Ireland.”
Light and fickle winds, mainly from the west but veering into the north during the night and towards the expected finish time, will make for a challenging final section. This afternoon less than two miles separated first placed Virbac-Papre 70 (Jean-Pierre Dick) from Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse). With such conditions expected the winner tomorrow could be decided by the final puff or gust before the finish line. Certainly a long last night at sea is anticipated. The time for sleep will be in Dun Laoghaire, especially considering the majority of the crews on the four MOD 70s will recall that last year’s finish of the European Tour leg into the very same finish line with a similar weather picture saw just 77 seconds separate first from third.
On the 1600 UTC ranking, with 125 miles to the finish Oman Air-Musandam were one tenth of a mile up on Spindrift (Yann Guichard)
Match race to Dun Laoghaire: Actual or FenêtréA-Cardinal?
While the MOD70s are having a four cornered battle for the honours into Dublin, the fight in the Multi50s remains a straight duel, head to head to the finish line. Actual, skippered by Yves Le Blevec led around Fastnet this afternoon in front of Erwan Le Roux's FenetreA-Cardinal. Actual had extended her lead to 2.85 miles after being second around Fastnet five minutes behind FenetreA-Cardinal at 1220 UTC.
Some sixty miles behind them, Arkema-Aquitaine struggles a little with some minor technical problems and Gilles Lamiré and his crew on Rennes - Saint-Malo Agglomeration are about continues 200 miles behind in fourth, so he has decided to retire from Leg 2 and head straight to Dun Laoghaire where he will have time to prepare for the inshore races over the weekend and the round Ireland speed record on Monday.
Positions at 1600 UTC
1- Maxi 80 Prince de Bretagne, Lionel Lemonchois, 130.54 miles to finish
1- Oman Air - Musandam, Sidney Gavignet, 125.69 miles to finish
2- Spindrift, Yann Guichard, +0.11 miles to leader
3- Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse, + 1.66 miles to leader
4- Virbac - Paprec 70, Jean-Pierre Dick, + 1.85 miles to leader
1- Actual, Yves Le Blevec, 164.91 miles to finish
2- FenêtréA - Cardinal, Erwan Le Roux, + 2.85 miles to leader
3- Arkéma - Region Aquitaine, Lalou Roucayrol + 88.63 miles to leader
4- Rennes Métropole - Saint Malo Agglomération, Gilles Lamiré, +269.95 miles to finish