With no inshore racing possible in Dun Laoghaire on Sunday for the Routes des Princes fleet due to very high winds on Dublin Bay, the focus for the multihull fleet returns to offshore racing as Leg 3, to Plymouth is set to start on Monday morning at 1100hrs local time (Dublin). After the spectacular capsize of Yann Guichard’s Spindrift on Saturday there will now be three MOD70’s racing on the penultimate offshore stage.The race leading MOD70 was righted by crane on Saturday evening and the crew and technical team spent Sunday doing their best to restore what equipment had been salvaged and make the hull ready for repatriation back to France which is expected to take place later this week. Injured crewman Jacques Guichard (FRA), who suffered a fractured pelvis, remains comfortable in hospital and will be further evaluated by a specialist on Monday.
From the extremes of too much wind which prevented inshore racing on Dublin Bay – Sunday’s gusts peaked at over 40kts – breezes are forecast to be insufficient for a meaningful attempt on the Round Ireland record which it was hoped might be an integral part of the Leg 3 course.
Instead the course to Plymouth has a measure of flexibility built. The extreme easterly turning mark may be as far up the Channel as Southern Head off Newhaven, East Sussex. There are three other choices at Nab Tower, Fairway and Shambles. The longest possible course is 850 miles and the shortest is 650. And racing in the English Channel – downwind with strong tides – will surely mean some of the most tactical racing yet.
Leg 3 starts at 1100hrs local time Monday. After a short windward-leeward loop off Dun Laoghaire at the start the course goes to Bardsey Island off the Anglesey coast, which is expected to be a 60 miles downwind leg in NW’ly winds starting off at a moderate 10-15kts and building later to 25kts. Bardsey is the first of two bonus points scoring opportunities for the first boat in each class. From this turn it is 195 miles to Fastnet Rock. As current forecasts stand this is likely to be upwind or a tight reach. Then from Fastnet the fleet will have 150 miles of downwind sailing to pass Bishop Rock and Hands Deep at the Scilly Isles. Bishop Rock is the second points scoring opportunity. Before passing Eddystone Rocks off Plymouth Race Direction will inform contestants what the remaining marks of the course will be. Fastnet and Bishops Rock, and beyond, the westerly breezes are expected to slacken off, mostly thereafter racing downwind in 10-12kts and less at times. Race Direction anticipates the leaders reaching Plymouth early on Wednesday afternoon.
Points are still close among the leading contenders in the MOD70 fleet. Just four points separates Sébastien Josse’s Edmond de Rothshchild from Sidney Gavignet’s Oman Air-Musandam.
Overall Standings Route des Princes after Dun Laoghaire stop
1-Prince de Bretagne, Lionel Limonchois, 88 pts
1- Spindrift, Yann Guichard, 94 pts
2- Edmond de Rothschild, Sébastien Josse, 88 pts
3- Oman Air-Musandam, Sydney Gavignet, 84 pts
4-Virbac-Paprec, Jean-Pierre Dick, 66 pts
1- Actual, Yves Le Blevec, 80 pts
2- FenêtreA-Cardinal, Erwan Le Roux, 74 pts
3- Arkema-Région Aquitaine, lalou Roucayrol, 68 pts
4- Rennes Métropole – Saint-Malo Agglomération, Gilles Lamiré, 56 pts