Two horse race
The winners of the Routes des Princes will be decided in tonight's final offshore sprint from Plymouth to Roscoff/Morlaix. Following victory in the inshore race series on Plymouth Sound today - securing perfect inshore record this afternoon - Sébastien Josse’s crew of Edmond de Rothschild go into leg 4 needing only to win the bonus points available at the La Roche Gautier mark, 43 miles from the finish, to be sure of triumphing in the MOD70 class.
With a two points margin in the Multi50s, Yves Blevec’s Actual needs to finish ahead of Arkéma-Aquitaine Region to be sure of overall victory, or even just to take the bonus points.
Josse’s team has proven to be the sharpest inshore. For the winners in Valencia, Lisbon and now Plymouth who credit their intense weeks of pre-race practice, there are several arithmetical combinations, which can work for them. They start the 250 miles final stage with a lead of four points. The points multiplier for the finale to Morlaix is times 1.5 and so if they can take the bonus, effectively 1.5 points at La Roche Gautier then Sidney Gavignet’s Oman Air-Musandam can no longer catch them.
Conversely Oman Air-Musandam, the best team offshore with wins into Lisbon and into Plymouth, but third placed finishers on the Plymouth inshores, now have to claim the bonus points and, ideally, to win the leg if they are to wrestle the outright victory from Edmond de Rothschild’s grasp.
The 265 mile course for the MOD70s takes the three adversaries back passed Eddystone, eight miles out from Plymouth, out to Wolf Rock at Land’s End, around 70 miles reaching and upwind, then across the channel to the Cardinal La Roche Gautier mark to the NE of Paimpol, with a final loop at the bay of Morlaix between Roscoff and the Le Crapaud Cardinal mark which builds in the capacity for the Race Officers to shorten the course. The target is to have the multihulls finish into Morlaix between midday and 1400 Sunday, closer to 1400 being ideal. The leg from Wolf Rock across the western channel which is about 100 miles should be in a mainly westerly breeze which is forecast to veer more to the N and fade as they close to the French coast, so once again the advantage maybe with the chasers rather than those in front.
The Multi50s race a more direct course, missing out Wolf Rock but instead turning at the NW Miniquier mark which is deep in the east of the Bay of Morlaix, returning against the wind to the finish line.
Compared with the 600-950 miles long offshore races, which have been contested so far linking Valencia, Lisbon, Dun Laoghaire and Plymouth the last leg is a sprint. Crews were stocking up on sleep Saturday afternoon between the end of the inshore races and the evening start, knowing that there this final sprint will be contested at maximum intensity. At 18 hours of racing, approximately, there will be no sleep until the battle is over.
The arithmetical options may be many and varied, but for sure winning into Morlaix has got to be the best and simplest formula for all of the teams, and everyone is out to win.
Sébastien Col, tactician on Edmond de Rothschild looked ahead to this leg: “ It has been great for me to sail with Edmond de Rothschild. We have got better with each stage through the month of June. Everyone has enjoyed it and it has been fun. It is a really strong group. As a tactician being able to rely on such a strong, effective crew is a big thing. It means you can make better, faster manoeuvres. Today we certainly made a better gybe and that made a difference. I’d never sailed with Seb Josse in this type of boat but we worked well together with great cohesion. I think he is one of the best. I wont be at the finish but will follow the last leg carefully. We built a little cushion today but it will got to the end I think. This is part of the appeal of this class.”
His skipper Sébastien Josse added: "I think this fourth stage will be full of suspense with light winds because there is a high pressure ridge which extends over Brittany. There will still be a little bit of wind but it will not be very strong. You will need to watch for the trends and use the coastal effects on the English coast. There is not much runway on the course and so you have to take every chance. And in the end it is just one night and then its over. And so we will try to remain very focused and make sure we are alert the whole time.”
Sidney Gavignet, skipper of Oman Air-Musandam said “Unfortunately the last inshore races has carried the same statistical pattern as before. It’s a shame because we always have the capacity to do better but seemed to have made too many mistakes. Today we did a gybe set at the first mark and that was a shame. But I guess we cant have it both ways, the statistics offshore are good for us when we look at the last leg. The Edmond de Rothschild team have done well and deserve their win here.
"The final stage is more of a sprint. It’s really neither offshore nor inshore…We need to not make any silly mistakes. There wont be a lot of wind. And it will end up downwind in light breezes, there will be plenty to do. We have a lot of confidence in our navigation and ourselves. I will remind our crew that. I think we need to not think too much about the result because no matter what we have sailed a good race overall, and so we should not stress about the outcome now. That’s not going to make us fast.”
Jean-Pierre Dick skipper of Virbac-Paprec 70 said: "We go into this final stage with the 1.5 points coefficient looking to attack and do better. To have been last on each of the offshore stages is not good for our morale. We are racers and the race is contested at a high level and we are at that level. It will be good to be finishing in the Bay of Morlaix where I grew up and where my passion for sailing developed. There will be things we can do, we can make some good calls and hopefully taste a little bit of success.
Final results, inshore Plymouth:
1. Edmond de Rothschild, 10 pts
2. Virbac-Paprec 70 , 8 pts
3. Oman Air-Musandam , 6 pts
4. Spindrift, DNS 4 pts
Overall standings going into Leg 4, Plymouth-Roscoff
1. Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) 136 pts
2. Oman Air-Musandam(Sidney Gavignet) 132 pts
3. Spindrift (Yann Guichard) 126 pts
4. Virbac-Paprec 70 (Jean-Pierre Dick) 104 pts.
1 Actual 114 pts
2 Arkema – Région Aquitaine 112
3 FenêtréA-Cardinal 108pts
4 Rennes Métropole - Saint-Malo Agglomération 84 pts
Inshore Plymouth by routedesprincesTV