Musandam-Oman Sail into first

Smart Cape St Vincent tactics by Sidney Gavignet's team

Friday September 21st 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Image above courtesy of Expedition/PredictWind

The first decisive move has occurred overnight on leg four of the MOD70 European Tour from Cascais to Marseille. As they rounded Cape St Vincent, Portugal's southwesternmost tip, so the wind veered from the northwest into the north and the boat took stayed with this shift taking them off just before they reached the Cape.

Before midnight, on the long gybe SSW the fleet was very tightly packed, gliding along at around 10-12 knots under gennaker with less than 1 mile between first placed Foncia and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild. The crucial moment was when to gybe and by turning east first the Sidney Gavignet-skippered Musandam-Oman Sail launched herself from fourth place to first with Steve Ravussin and Race for Water holding second. 

At 0230 UTC the leaders were just 3.5 nm off the impressive 75 metres high cliffs off the Cape having found a vein of stronger wind closer to the land, allowing the frontrunners to sail slightly faster than Foncia and Spindrift racing which had taken a more offshore route and seemed to have been penalised in lighter airs, making just half the speed of the leaders and by the next sched at 0445hrs UTC the Omani team had extended to six miles ahead of Foncia and Spindrift racing.

At the latest sched the Strait of Gibraltar lies 136 miles ahead but en route there are some numerous meteorological pitfalls with the GRIB files showing ultra-light headwinds in the Bay of Cadiz while to the south the wind is still in the north. So it is probable that the boats will remain south as they won't be close enough to the coast to feel the advantage of any thermal breeze. The boats are due to pass through the Strait of Gibraltar tonight. 

This morning from on board Musandam-Oman Sail navigator Jef Cuzon reported: "There was a regrouping off Cape St Vincent in the middle of night and we were able to position ourselves nicely in relation to this point to keep in the breeze and make a good curve around it: we are quite happy. It’s going well, 13 knots under gennaker in approximately nine knots of northwest wind: it is very nice on a flat sea. We are preparing for the new weather system which is really not very clear: we do not really know what is going to happen for sure, but we'll soon gybe again to make for Gibraltar. We've just been by the separation zone for maritime traffic: there were a lot of ships. Now we are well away from the coast and so wont see some of the influence of thermal effects but there is a little low pressure that comes from Morocco and generates sometimes easterly wind, sometimes from the northwest: there is a move, a choice to make! This is the question of the day. Race for Water is visible on the horizon. We are in watches of two with a crew on stand-by and me at the nav station. Its going well..."

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