Bragging rights for the third offshore leg of the Route des Princes from Dublin to Plymouth went down to the wire as Sidney Gavignet’s Oman Air-Musandam fought to notch up its second leg win and held off overall leader Sébastien Josse in Gitana XV.
Gavignet, whose crew includes international stars Neal McDonald of Britain and Damian Foxall of Ireland plus two from Oman going through a high-powered apprenticeship, had stolen a bit of a march when rounding the Fastnet Rock off the south-west corner of Ireland.
But the three remaining MOD70 trimarans were all suffering from tricky light winds and, as they entered the English Chanel, growing influence from the tides.
As Gavignet held on for the win he was still second overall, but by only two points, to Josse. This set up a close-fought weekend finale, with two sets of three inshore races scheduled on the Sound overlooked by the Hoe and then a dash across the Channel to Morlaix in Brittany.
The 50-foot trimarans had taken a shorter course, sailing direct from Bardsey Island to Bishop Rock and had also been hit by light winds. But happy with everything was Erwan le Roux who managed to negate a 15-mile lead for overall leader Yves le Blevec’s Actual off Wales and then come back against second-placed Lalou Roucayrol’s Arkema to score his first leg win.
He remains third overall – Gilles Lamiré was set to complete his first leg in Rennes-St. Malo – and the race committee decided to drop a protest against Roucayrol for straying into a traffic separation zone when he had so little wind he could not prevent it – but le Blevec’s lead has been cut to two points.