The Oman flagged MOD70 trimaran Oman Air-Musandam skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) crossed the finish line to win the first leg of the inaugural Route des Princes at 12h41'38'' local time (11h41'38'' TU/GMT).
Oman Air-Musandam took 2d 23h 41mn 38secs for the 794 miles first leg which started from Valencia, Spain last Sunday afternoon.
With most of the course being upwind the winners sailed at an average of 11.08kts for the theoretical course but actually sailed 1024 miles on the water, so making a real average of 14.28kts.
Since the six man international crew established a small lead at the only turning mark of the course off Benicarlo just to the north of Valencia, just before 8pm on Sunday evening, Oman Air-Musandam have been the most regular leaders of the race.
Over yesterday eveing this morning Gavignet’s crew had seen their steady margin of 20 miles shrink until their nearest rivals, Spindrift (Yann Guichard), passed them temporarily this morning. But Oman Air-Musandam found a new, favourable breeze to the west and were able to extend away from Spindrift, the team which won the MOD70’ class 2012 championship last year.
Oman Air-Musandam collect the maximum possible points for the stage, 40 pts for winning the leg as well as all the available bonus points, 2pts for leading at Benicarlo and 2pts for leading out of the Mediterranean at Gibraltar yesterday morning.
The Route des Princes course takes the fleet of grand prix multihulls from Valencia to Morlaix in France stopping in Lisbon, Dun Laoghaire-Dublin and Plymouth, finishing on 30th June in France.
Sidney Gavignet (FRA): “We are happy, we did some good work and made only a couple of small mistakes but it is a good feeling. This just means we are working well together as a team. Last night it was a bit difficult. We had Spindrift and Prince de Bretagne inside us on the coast and they were catching, catching and the wind shift we were looking for was not coming, so that was tricky.
“In fact we were all together coming out of Benicarlo but when we stayed further offshore that was where we got our lead that we extended to 20 miles. We were well positioned then and I suppose if there was a key moment of the race that was it.”
“I had just one day with Jean Yves Bernot on the weather before the delivery to Valencia and to be honest that made a lot of thing more clear in my mind. I would dedicate the leg to him. It was just one day but I would say that before I felt the weather might be a weakness, because we don’t have a dedicated navigator, but after that day I was feeling much more confident. I was feeling strong, so it feels good to have made these calls.”
“With no dedicated navigator I bring down all the weather files and examine them and we make the calls together.”
Neal McDonald (GBR): “It is good. I think the two days of inshore racing in Valencia did not really reflect our level and maybe this proves what we are capable of. It is a reward for all the hard work that we all put in before, it has paid off a dividend now.”
“Last night was a bit tense. There was no half measures when they were ten or 15 miles behind us because it would not have made sense to go back and try and cover them and you can’t see them so we had to do something different. We were pretty confident in our option.”
“The move to stay east offshore on the first night was Sidney’s call, it was trade off between sailing the breeze and sailing more miles and it was probably the call of our race, we made that ten or 15 miles buffer on that one call.”
“Either your calls are brave or conservative at different times and I think we got the balance right. We were confident in our option last night, but it was a bit tense at times. There was always going to be some compression as we were going into the lighter breeze, but there was no really big surprise when we extended away again today.”