The Marseille City Races end, time to head offshore
The final day of City Races in the European Tour 2012 proved to be action-packed. Amidst torrential downpours and clear spells with wind, the latter wasn’t short of upset. Aboard Edmond de Rothschild Group, besides the tricky weather conditions, Sébastien Josse’s men had to contend with the replacement of one of their crew due to injury. And with just two races contested, Gitana Team’s determination and energy weren’t enough to influence the hierarchy established yesterday. Fifth in the Marseille City Races, the crew of the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild will be keen to round off the European Tour on a positive note. Tomorrow, the MOD 70 fleet will leave Marseille at 1300 UTC bound for Genoa, with some 651-miles on the programme.

The deluge forecast for Marseille was certainly much in evidence today… As dawn broke the morning sunshine seemed to contradict this, but a few hours later some violent storms swung into action. Ultimately, at 1300 UTC, after over two hours of waiting around, the five crews competing in the European Tour saw their patience rewarded and left the Roucas Blanc to contest the second day of Marseille City Races. On the race zone in the southern harbour, the wind was shifty, oscillating between 20 and 5 knots as the boats made their way along just offshore of the Frioul Islands and the Corniche Kennedy. In these very changeable conditions, the men of Edmond de Rothschild Group didn’t manage to stand out in the extremely crucial start zones and ended up in the thick of some complex situations despite themselves, as the skipper of Gitana XV explains:In the second race, we ended up in the middle of a critical situation. Unfortunately it turned to our disadvantage, though I believe that we were within our rights at the start. At the first mark, Race for Water committed a serious error, which drove us to commit an error too. On the approach to the mark, Stève Ravussin sought to take the inside lane when clearly there wasn’t the room. Foncia, which was very slow at that point, tacked and called for water. However, at that stage, Race For Water was on our stern and we could no longer manoeuvre. In order to avoid breaking the boats, we were forced to turn on our engine. As a result, we were disqualified from the race. It’s really annoying that the behaviour of some of the others has led us to this type of situation, especially as our boat was damaged in this dual collision.”

Today Sébastien Josse’s crew was also deprived of one of its linchpins. Indeed Florent Chastel – bowman aboard the boat – was unable to race this Saturday. Suffering from an infection on his right hand, it was decided that the sailor from nearby Nice would take a rest from today’s races in order to ensure he is 100% fit tomorrow: “Yesterday I had a slight pain in the middle finger but nothing particularly alarming. It proved to be an infection and this developed overnight. This morning, my finger was double the size and I couldn’t really use my hand. It’s nothing serious, but it does need to be properly treated in order to prevent any problems. Given today’s weather conditions, it was better for me to give up my place, hence the decision, backed by Sébastien, for me to skip today’s City Races so I have every chance of heading off on the final offshore leg in the best possible condition.” Fortunately, Thierry Douillard, who was racing in Marseille a few days earlier for Match Race France, was able to fill in for Florent at a moment’s notice.

Tomorrow, the fleet of MOD 70s will leave Marseille in its wake to set sail on the final offshore leg of the European Tour 2012. After a coastal course spanning just a few miles of the bay, Edmond de Rothschild Group and its four rivals will set a course for “La Cassidaigne”, a mark indicating an isolated danger some 3 miles or so to the South-West of Cassis. After that, the five competing crews will make towards Minorca, in the Balearics, before finally setting a course for the finish in Genoa. The conclusion of this 651-mile course will reveal the definitive standing for the European Tour. “We’re in a difficult phase. The crew is working to analyse the problems we’ve been encountering in a bid to resolve them. That’s taking more time than we’d have liked, but we’re sound and that’s the important thing. Mathematically, third place overall is still accessible and in this final leg we’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. The main focus aboard will be on having fun,” concluded Sébastien Josse.

Standing for the Marseille City Races
  1. Spindrift Racing - 12 points
  2. Foncia - 11 points
  3. Musandam, Oman Sail - 10 points
  4. Race for Water - 9 points
  5. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 8 points

Standing for the European Tour (before leg 5)
  1. Foncia – 236 points
  2. Spindrift Racing – 229 points
  3. Musandam – Oman Sail – 203 points
  4. Race for Water – 202 points
  5. Edmond de Rothschild Group – 194 points

The crew of the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group

Sébastien Josse (Skipper), Christophe Espagnon, Antoine Koch, Thomas Rouxel, Cyril Dardashti, Olivier Douillard, Florent Chastel, David Boileau

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