In City Race mode in Kiel!
In the Krys Ocean Race, the championship’s inaugural transatlantic race between New York and Brest, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group were able to size up their steed on an oceanic scale. This Friday, in Kiel, during the first City Races contested in fleet format at the very heart of the German city, it’s a different ball game altogether. In this latest scenario, Foncia really shone with two victories in the three races run. Astern of it, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild proved to be particularly consistent by securing two second places and concluding this first day on the second step of the podium.

On the river in Kiel, three City Races and one Speed Match punctuated the initial confrontations by the MOD 70s competing in the European Tour. It was in a fine breeze of around a dozen knots, easing towards the end of the afternoon, that the five one-designs were able to show what they were made of and discover this new race format offered up by the European event. It’s worth explaining here that according to the regulations of the event, solely the City Races count towards the standing; the Speed Matches serving simply as a way of splitting the teams in the event of a later tie. This is why Edmond de Rothschild Group and Race for Water have the same number of points to their credit for now (30 points), but Sébastien Josse and his men are provisionally in second place. Michel Desjoyeaux and his crew are leading the race after securing wins in the first two races today.

Sébastien Josse has enjoyed a positive start to proceedings in this European Tour: “The crew is working well together and the cohesion is much in evidence aboard. The training sessions we did with a crew of eight back in the winter in Agadir are bearing fruit. The group still has considerable progress to make but it’s a good start. Today’s aim was to put up a consistent performance whilst getting our bearings with this type of course in fleet formation.” Sébastien Josse and his men have certainly delivered, with a second place in the MOD 70 fleet in three of the four races contested in total. The only ‘blip’ for Gitana Team occurred in the second race of the day, as the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group explains: “After a good start with the leading pack, we had a shocker at the first windward mark after fluffing the layline. We hit the mark and were logically penalised as a result. As we were performing our penalty (a 360°) we committed a second error, which caused us to lose contact with the rest of the fleet.”

Christophe Espagnon, offshore crew for Sébastien Josse, is calling tactics during the inshore races; a post which is absolutely made for this Olympic sailor, who has done a season in this role aboard the Gitana stable’s Extreme craft. On his return to the dock, he gave us his first impressions on the very specific playing field in Kiel: “we’re racing on an inshore race zone, situated within the city and surrounded by walls. It is unique in that it is raced lengthways and the start line is the width of the playing field. It’s one of the primary difficulties for us aboard the boat as its positioning at the start is key given that the City Races are contested over short distances. Proof of this came today with those who got off to good starts being ahead at the first mark. In the inshore races, my work with Sébastien (Josse) notably consists of finding the right place on the line, without getting bothered by our rivals.”The navigator from La Rochelle goes on to give us the lowdown on the weather conditions encountered: “There were two phases to the day. In the first two races, we had around 12 knots of breeze right along the course. This direction forced us to ‘bounce off the sides’ like a billiard ball. This led to a great number of crossing tacks and my work calling tactics consisted of getting a good handle on these situations. In the latter part of the afternoon, the wind backed and was beam onto the race zone, which resulted in some obligatory tacks and hence few tactical options if any. In this particular configuration, the starts proved to be all the more important. You had to be incisive and we managed to pull that off without taking too many risks.”

Tomorrow, the programme for the MOD 70 fleet will be identical, with three City Races and one Speed Match to separate the five competing crews and name the first victor in this European Tour. Sébastien Josse and his adversaries are due to begin racing on the German race zone at 1430 hours local time.

Standing for the Betfair City Race (after three races)
  1. Foncia - 34 points
  2. 2. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 30 points
  3. Race for Water - 30 points
  4. Spindrift Racing – 29 points
  5. Musandam – Oman Sail – 27 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

Leg 1: Kiel – Dun Laoghaire (Dublin) / 1188 miles, start 2 September

Leg 2: Dun Laoghaire (Dublin) – Cascais / 1215 miles, start 9 September

Leg 3: Cascais – Cascais (Around Portugal Race) / 558 miles, start 17 September

Leg 4: Cascais – Marseille / 1071 miles, start 20 September

Leg 5: Marseille – Genoa / 672 mlles, start 30 September

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