ETA in Ireland in the early hours
The first leg of the European Tour, between Kiel and Dùn Laoghaire, is drawing to an end. Indeed the fleet of MOD 70s is expected to enter the marina in Ireland in the early hours of Thursday. With the frontrunners some 80 miles from the finish, the battle is wide open and the hierarchy could well suffer a few upsets between now and the finish line. The forecast weather conditions for making landfall on the emerald cliffs of Eire, namely an easing wind under the influence of a zone of high pressure, won’t make things easy for the five crews still battling it out in close contact as they make for Saint Georges Channel. A general rebunching, just miles from the goal, is a distinct possibility. At the 1600 UTC standing, Edmond de Rothschild Group was still in third place, but was just five and a half miles shy of the leader and less than two miles astray of second place. Sébastien Josse and his men certainly haven’t had their final word and the battle will only come to an end once the finish line is crossed.

Predicted to be a more relaxing phase of the course between Kiel and Dùn Laoghaire, the Channel crossing thwarted the forecasters. Indeed, after the zone of calms which marked the fleet’s passage offshore of Dover, forcing the crews to make a great many manœuvres to make the most of every puff of air, Sébastien Josse and the men that make up Gitana Team, thought they would benefit from a more established breeze to make the South-West tip of England. Ultimately, the six sailors and their adversaries spent the whole night having to contend with a shifty breeze along the South coast of England:The night was far from restful! Before Dover, we made up ground on Foncia. Michel gave us some ‘America’s Cup’ style responses and the afternoon was a tacking battle between our two boats. They didn’t let us have a breather. Added to that, the wind, which was sweeping in from the land, was oscillating wildly and forced us to constantly adapt our sail configuration so as to stay racing fast. The whole crew was on deck. It’s out of the question to sleep in such conditions”, admitted Sébastien Josse.

This is especially true given that the entrance to the Celtic Sea was no more cheery. This morning, on leaving Land’s End (the South-West tip of England) to starboard, the crew of the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild had to contend with another tricky section: “After Land’s End, we hit a battlefield. We had very big seas and little wind; conditions which aren’t ideal for getting a multihull to make headway… However, since then things have got better: the seas have become more organised and we still have 18 knots of breeze, even though it isn’t set to last”, announced Sébastien Josse to his shore crew early this afternoon.

Indeed, whilst the sailors are closing on the finish line, the wind could well drop away under the influence of the ridge of high pressure, which is currently lounging across the route taken by the one-design trimarans. Something to further spice up what has already been an action-packed race… The 1,238 miles, which separate Kiel from Dùn Laoghaire, have certainly lived up to expectations as the backdrop for a marvellous nautical battle. Just hours from the conclusion of this first confrontation, suspense and uncertainty reign over the MOD 70 fleet. Leading the way since they took control of the fleet on rounding Skagerak, at the northern tip of Denmark, will Yann Guichard and his crew be able to fend off their assailants? At the 1600 UTC standing, the black trimaran’s lead had shrunk dramatically since Foncia was just 3.7 miles astern and Edmond de Rothschild Group was 5.5 miles off the pace. The verdict will fall in the early hours of Thursday, at around 0100 UTC according to the latest ETAs from the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group.

Leg 1 – standing on Wednesday 5 September at 1600 UTC
  1. Spindrift Racing 81.9 miles from the finish
  2. Foncia 3.7 miles astern of the leader
  3. Edmond de Rothschild 5.5 miles astern of the leader
  4. Race for Water 18.5 miles astern of the leader
  5. Musandam – Oman Sail 18.8 miles astern of the leader

The crew of the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group

Offshore: Sébastien Josse (Skipper), David Boileau, Florent Chastel, Christophe Espagnon, Antoine Koch, Thomas Rouxel

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