Michel Desjoyeaux sails Foncia to victory in Portugal


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The Independent Online

Michel Desjoyeaux took top spot in a shortened, 213-mile race off Portugal as he coaxed his latest Foncia, an MOD70 trimaran, to victory after a patience-testing and tense struggle with Stève Ravussin’s Race for Water.

The Swiss skipper was just five minutes and 50 seconds astern of his French rival but both were pleased to beat Yann Guichard, who has been setting the pace since the new class of yacht set off on a transatlantic race from New York to Brest and then became the man to beat as the European tour started in Kiel, went on the Dublin and is now in Cascais.

Local races there saw Musandram-Oman Sail, skippered by Sidney Gavignet with Brian Thompson as right hand man, top the points but they were fourth, nine minutes behind Guichard at the finish with Sébastien Josse bringing up the rear in Groupe Edmond de Rothschile.

Thursday sees the start of the next proper offshore leg, south from Lisbon to the Straits of Gibraltar and then into the Mediterranean and up to Marseille.

Niklas Zennström carries British hopes for victory in the final regatta of the Super 52 Series in Valencia. His TP52 Rán trails the Americans in Quantum and the Argentinian-backed Italians in Azzurra and it will take not just a superhuman effort from a crew with the likes of Adrian Stead, Steve Hayles, Andy Hemmings and Kiwi veteran Andrew Taylor but a calamitous fall from grace by the leaders.

Quantum, skippered by Ed Baird, is just six points clear of Azzurra and seven races are scheduled before the finish on Saturday. Both are committed to return next year to a series that has been badly hit by difficult economic times – as have regattas in France, Italy and the United States – having enjoyed heady days when the dock was packed with America’s Cup crews.

The 52s are joined by the Soto 40s and the British Soto 40, Tony Buckingham’s Ngoni, is joined by a man who knows the waters off Valencia well, the Team New Zealand and then Alinghi America’s Cup defender skipper/tactician Brad Butterworth. Whatever else, the sense of humour on the back of that boat should pack a potent punch.

Buckingham lies third overall and the class has decided to make every race score double points but, even with eight races scheduled – Valencia’s fickle wind can easily disrupt that schedule – he has a job to do to overtake the Spanish favourite, Iberdrola, skippered by José Maria Torcida Seghers