MOD70 European Tour 2012: Race Summary

Untitled 17.10.12

At the end of a month’s racing, from Kiel to Genoa, from the Baltic to the Mediterranean it would have been all to easy to forget that this was the first MOD70 European Tour.

For the most part the race was sailed in light to moderate conditions, interspersed with some exciting periods of 30-35knots, and the majority of the course was reaching or downwind. Of the finishes into Dun Laoghaire, Cascais, Marseille and Genoa most were concluded in light winds. Only the arrival in Marseille was at the opposite extreme.

Of the five MOD70 crews which competed, the main honours were shared between three. FONCIA, overall victors, won two offshore stages and a City Race series, Spindrift racing won two offshore stages and two City Race series and Musandam-Oman Sail won a City Race series and one offshore stage.

And for all of the 4700 miles or so of offshore racing in five stages, and four sets of City Race series it took until the final minutes of the final leg, in the Gulf of Genoa for the overall winner to be decided. The duel which had gone on for the full month was finally settled just a couple of miles from the finish line in very light winds. FONCIA did what they had to do, finishing second behind Spindrift racing on that final leg, to clinch the inaugural MOD70 European Tour title.

All five MOD70’s finished the race entirely intact with no significant damage or technical problems.


Leg 1, Kiel (GER) to Dun Laoghaire, Dublin (IRL): 1,238 miles
Departure: Sunday, September 2
Winner: FONCIA

Just seconds

The top three finishers into Dun Laoghaire finished within 77 seconds. That pretty much set the tone for the race, with just small differences between the one design trimarans. FONCIA had won the City Race series, collected the maximum bonus on starting from Kiel and had lead out up around the Danish coast. Off the NW of Denmark a small error allowed Spindrift racing to take the lead. Around the slalom of marks in the North Sea and off the Norfolk coast, between shoals, oil and gas platform, shipping lanes and wind farms, there were few tactical opportunities.

Along the Channel speeds picked up as the fleet sped west to Land’s End averaging 30kts for sustained periods. From there a high pressure bubble centred over the east of Ireland meant 250 miles of upwind sailing into progressively easing winds.

And it was in these very light winds that FONCIA pulled back Spindrift racing’s long time lead and stole victory at the finish only a few boat lengths clear of the Guichard’s crew with Sébastien Josse and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild taking third.

Desjoyeaux finished across the line on  Thursday, September 6 at 01 hours 19 minutes and 09 seconds (CET), Spindrift racing just 31 seconds later.

Finish Dun Laoghaire (French time)
1 - FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux) September 6 at 01h 19 '09: 3d 10h 49' 09''
2 - Spindrift racing (Yann Guichard) at 01h 19 '40'': 3d 10h 49' 40''
3 - Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) 01h 20 '26'': 3d 10h 50' 26''
4 - Race for Water (Steve Ravussin) at 01h 54 '25'': 3d 11h 24' 25''
5 - Musandam, Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) at 03h 54 '00'': 3d 12h 24' 00''

Leg 2, Dun Laoghaire (IRL) to Cascais (POR) via the Fastnet: 975 miles
Start: September 9
Winner: Spindrift racing

Deja vu into Cascais

It was another close finish into Cascais for the first four MOD70’s. After 975 miles of racing including a muscular beat along the Irish coast and strong winds out to the Fastnet the reward came with some fantastic fast reaching down across the Bay of Biscay before the wind started to falter off Cape Finisterre. Across a ridge of high pressure and light winds the fleet split. Spindrift racing made the perfect call, staying inshore to collect the new NE’ly breeze first off Porto. Thereafter the speeds built pleasingly with spells again over 30 knots but Guichard’s team were able to hold on to win in very light airs, ghosting across the finish line some 49 minutes ahead of FONCIA. Michel Desjoyeaux’s crew eased past Musandam-Oman Sail in the final mile and a half, racing slowly along the Marina de Cascais breakwater, to take second place. By winning the second offshore leg, added to their victory in the Dun Laoghaire City Race series, Spindrift racing take the overall lead. And the title duel tips in favour of Guichard and his crew.

Leg 2 finish  Cascais
1-Spindrift racing (Yann Guichard) September 12 at 7 37 '36'': 2d 15h 37' 36''
2 - FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux) at 8h 26 '49'': 2d 16h 26' 49''
3 - Musandam, Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) at 8h 33 '22'': 2d 16h 33' 22''
4 - Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) 8h 37 '36'': 2d 16h 37' 36''
5 - Race for Water (Steve Ravussin) at 8h 53 '30'': 2d 16h 53' 30''

Leg 3, Race Around Portugal: 213miles
Start: September 17
Winner: FONCIA

Short, tough, important

A forecast for light winds ensured this offshore Leg 3 was trimmed to just a loop 60 miles north from Cascais and then 50 miles south, a coastal course which lasted 1 day, 1 hour and 47 minutes. Michel Desjoyeaux and his crew on FONCIA take the early lead, collecting the three bonus points as they headed north to the little island group at Berlingas. The winds are always light and the tactical battle is intense, choosing the best places to gybe downwind in the unstable, unpredictable airs. But FONCIA stick to their game plan, in the end keeping a match race style cover on Race for Water. Stève Ravussin’s team take the lead temporarily but FONCIA pull through again to win their second offshore stage: “ We are exhausted but happy.” Concludes Desjoyeaux and Race for Water take second to really set their overall podium challenge into gear whilst Spindrift racing take third.

Finish Cascais / Race Around Portugal
1 - FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux) Tuesday, September 18 at 17h 07 '44'': 1d 1h 47' 44''
2 - Race for Water (Steve Ravussin) at 17h 13 '34'' to 5'50 first
3 - Spindrift racing (Yann Guichard) at 17h 33 '56'' to 26' 17'' of the first
4 - Musandam, Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) at 17h 42 '50'' 35' 06'' of the first
5 - Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) 17h 53 '25'' to 45'41'' first
Step 4, Cascais (POR) - Marseille (FRA): 1,030 miles
Departure: September 20
Winner: Musandam-Oman Sail

Omani heroes

The longest leg in terms of duration for some of the MOD70 crews there was nearly 60 hours of very light winds and the final 20 hours in strong offshore winds for the arrival into Marseille. Sidney Gavignet and the crew of Musandam-Oman Sail took control of the fleet with a clever move, gybing at just the right time of Cape St Vincent on the SW tip of the Iberian peninsula. At Gibraltar they looked to be vulnerable as the fleet regrouped but they extended in the Alboran Sea, getting to the new breeze first and scaled up to Cabo de Gata. Working between the sea breezes and the offshore night breezes Musandam-Oman Sail extended to a lead of close to 100 miles, the biggest lead of the race at any stage.

The last night with 35kts of NE’ly breeze blowing offshore they needed to sail conservatively, even the reach from Cassis to the finish held some potential pitfalls. After winning the City Race series in Cascais this was the first offshore leg win for Sidney Gavignet and crew, an emotional return for the skipper who trained as a young athlete in his Laser out of the Roucas Blanc marina. And second for Race for Water maintained their podium challenge on course.

Finish Marseille
1 - Musandam, Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) September 24 to 7:11 '34'': 3d 16h 11' 34''
2 - Race for Water (Steve Ravussin) at 09h 39 'and 41'': 3 d 18 h 39' and 41''
3 - FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux) at 09h 57 '06'': 3 d 18 h 57' 6''
4 - Spindrift racing (Yann Guichard) at 12h 45 '41'': 3d 21h 45' 41''
5 - Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) at 13h 04 '12'': 3d 22h 4' 12''

Leg 5, Marseille (FRA) to Genoa (ITA) via Menorca (Balearic Islands): 651 miles
Departure: September 30
Winner: Spindrift racing

An amazing finish

The finale went to the wire. Only in the last couple of miles and 22 minutes of the MOD70 European Tour did the winner become clear. Michel Desjoyeaux and his crew on FONCIA went in to the final offshore with a lead of seven points ahead of Yann Guichard and his crew on Spindrift racing. All Guichard needed was to finish ahead with one boat between them and FONCIA at the finish to win outright. And the battle for third step on the podium was poised with whichever of Musandam-Oman Sail or Race for Water crossed the line first set to secure third.

For the five MOD70 trimarans the final leg of 651 miles was sailed in close contact with one another. A rapid downwind surge from Marseille to Menorca, full speed reaching on one float under the light of a harvest moon got the fleet to the Balearics in close order. FONCIA read the line along the lee side of the island best and poopped out ahead. They lead again at the top of Corsica but it was Yann Guichard’s crew which seemed to have done enough when the breeze died away in the Gulf of Genoa.

Indeed they had won the leg and had to watch in agony as FONCIA came back from the other side of the course from Race for Water and Musandam-Oman Sail to steal second place in the last mile of the course. Yann Guichard won Le 5 but FONCIA the overall winner of the MOD70 European Tour.

Finish in Genoa
1 / Spindrift racing (Yann Guichard) on October 2 at 7:14 '22'': 1d 15h 21' 22''
2 / FONCIA (Michel Desjoyeaux) to 7:36 '54'': 1d 15h 43' 54''
3 / Race For Water (Steve Ravussin) with 7:40 '03'': 1d 15h 47' 03''
4 / Musandam, Oman Sail (Sidney Gavignet) at 7h 43 '25'': 1d 15h 50' 25''
5 / Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) 8h 28 '59'': 1d 16h 35' 59''

General classification MOD70 European Tour
1 / FONCIA with 284 points
2 / Spindrift racing with 282 points
3 / For Water Race with 244 points
4 / Musandam, Oman Sail with 242 points
5 / Groupe Edmond de Rothschild with 228 points

City Races
Kiel: winner FONCIA
Dun Laoghaire / Dublin: Spindrift racing winner
Cascais: Oman Sail-winner Munsandam
Marseille: Spindrift racing winner

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