A year ago, Sébastien Josse and Gitana Team were just taking receipt of the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group. Since then, the skipper, formally a monohull specialist, has been working to make up his deficit in relation to his rivals, the majority of whom have been major players in multihull circuits for many a year. On his return to the dock, he shared his initial impressions with us: “The City Races were very specific due to the highly demanding race zone on which we were racing today. These initial races won’t necessarily be representative of what’s to come. We were keen to gently get into our stride in the competition and put up a consistent performance. We noticed that some crews did well in this format and we’re among them so the first results are positive but we’re gradually going to have to build up our strength.”
Leg 1: The promise of a lively opening and a long route to Ireland
When Race Management were preparing this European Tour, they thought up two routes for the first leg between Kiel and the Irish port of Dublin, so as to be able to adapt to the weather conditions at the time. The latest forecasts and the announcement of a deep depression over northern latitudes caused them to opt for the more southerly course. The first part of the course remains unchanged: Edmond de Rothschild Group and its rivals will leave Kiel with around 200 miles’ navigation across the Baltic Sea bound for the Skagerak headland, situated to the extreme North of Denmark. Following that, instead of setting a course for the Shetland Islands (61° North and the highest point of the first route), the one-design trimarans will have to head South in order to leave England to starboard and make their way up the English Channel to Land’s End, at the South-West tip of England. They’ll then make for the Celtic Sea, followed by St Georges Channel and the port of Dun Laoghaire, the terminus for this first leg, which theoretically spans some 1,238 miles.
Antoine Koch, in charge of navigation aboard Edmond de Rothschild Group, explains why this option has been chosen: “There’s a pretty deep depression, linked to Hurricane Kirk that passed over Cuba a few days ago, which is traversing the Atlantic in the other direction via the North. It will be over the Shetlands from Monday onwards. The grib files are announcing 50 knots of breeze along the route so they’re barring our way. Added to that, hurricanes are phenomena for which forecasts aren’t always very reliable and there could be some very violent squalls in addition to the wind already announced. These conditions aren’t feasible for our boats, hence Race Management’s decision to opt for the southerly route. Though the former hurricane won’t directly affect us, it does influence the position of the phenomena we will have to negotiate. There are depressions which are circulating in the North and an anticyclone, which is highly established over the Breton headland.”
Though the decision to take the southerly route enables the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group to avoid any inappropriate conditions for racing, the situation is no less complicated for Sébastien Josse’s men. Antoine Koch deciphered the outline for the weather during this opening leg: “We’re likely to set out at the back of a small front, which will pass over Scandinavia during the course of the night. There will be humidity in the air at the start of the race. The initial hours of racing will involve downwind conditions, in 15-20 knots of breeze coming down from Jutland (the narrowest passage of the race measuring just 5 miles wide) then the Skagerak headland to the extreme North of Denmark. The start of the race is likely to be fast, but it will call for a great deal of attention aboard so as to successfully negotiate the shipping in the sector, as well as the numerous waypoints imposed by the racecourse. We should make the switch from the Baltic Sea to the North Sea midway through the night (from Sunday to Monday). Once around the Danish headland, we’ll have to negotiate short seas and a breeze, which is set to build to around 25 knots. There will be around ten fairly lively hours where we’ll have to focus on preserving gear. However, early on Monday the wind is set to ease very quickly and the crew which is really on its toes in hoisting more sail area will reap the rewards. As regards the trajectory, we’ll then have our sights on a gateway situated offshore of Holland. With this compulsory passage mark, we shouldn’t see any big options forming prior to this mark. However, the next stage of the course will provide more opportunities” promised Antoine Koch. Indeed, for now it looks like there will be two tricky passages along the way for the one-design trimarans: “There will be two very tricky transition zones to negotiate. First off is the passage offshore of Pas-de-Calais with a ridge of high pressure to cross, then another between Land’s End and Scotland. These zones could really completely reshuffle the standing,” concluded the sailor.
Tomorrow the start of the first offshore leg between Kiel and Dun Laoghaire will take place at 1430 hours local time. The fleet of MOD 70s will sail a coastal course of just a few miles, before finally heading offshore. The routing currently gives an ETA on Irish soil of Wednesday night to Thursday.
Standing for the Kiel City Race (after six races)
- Foncia - 12 points
- Spindrift Racing – 11 points
- 3. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 10 points
- Musandam – Oman Sail – 9 points
- Race for Water - 8 points
The crew of the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group
Sébastien Josse (Skipper)
David Boileau, Florent Chastel, Cyril Dardashti, Olivier Douillard, Christophe Espagnon, Antoine Koch, Thomas Rouxel
The European Tour in five legs
The second event in the Multi One Championship, after the Krys Ocean Race (a transatlantic race between New York and Brest contested in early July), the European Tour comprises five legs: the five competing crews will set off from Kiel bound for Dun Laoghaire (Dublin) on 2 September, prior to setting sail for Cascais (Portugal) and Marseille (France), not to mention Genoa (Italy), where the finish will be decided on 2 October 2012 and with it the name of the winner of this first edition. In total there are over 5,000 nautical miles to cover in five weeks!
Kiel City Races: from 31 August to 1 September
Leg 1 – 1,188 miles: Kiel – Dun Laoghaire (Dublin), start Sunday 2 September
Dun Laoghaire (Ireland)
Dublin City Races: from 7 to 8 September
Leg 2 – 1,215 miles: Dun Laoghaire (Dublin) – Cascais, start Sunday 9 September
Cascais City Races: from 14 to 16 September
Leg 3 - 558 miles: Cascais – Cascais (Around Portugal Race), start Monday 17 September
Leg 4 – 1,071 miles: Cascais – Marseille, start Thursday 20 September
Marseille City Races: from 28 to 29 September
Leg 5 - 672 miles: Marseille – Genoa, start Sunday 30 September
Finish of leg 5: Tuesday 2 October
Closing race: Wednesday 3 October