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Route Des Princes – Foxall Podcast from the Fastnet Rock

18th June 2013
Route Des Princes – Foxall Podcast from the Fastnet Rock

#routedesprinces – Damian Foxall leads the Route des Princes race this lunchtime, rounding the Fastnet rock to get his first glimpse of home in several months. [Scroll down the page to listen to the podcast].

From on board Omansail, Foxall says he can see the 'green fields of southwest Cork' (not quite Derrynane tho, Damian, eh?) as the trimaran flies along at 28-knots.

The Kerryman's slender lead is threatened this afternoon by light winds and a closing multi fleet as they head for the Tuskar Rock at Wexford.

Omansail are preparing for light winds and a difficult 24 hours ahead.

After a fast and frenetic ride through the North Atlantic, Oman Air-Musandam moved into the lead of the second offshore leg of the 2013 Route des Princes during the early hours of Tuesday morning stretching out a small gain in an incredibly tight contest.

After a fast and frenetic ride through the North Atlantic, Oman Air-Musandam moved into the lead of the second offshore leg of the 2013 Route des Princes during the early hours of Tuesday morning stretching out a small gain in an incredibly tight contest.

Since they left Lisbon on Sunday, the four MOD70 trimarans have been neck and neck, with anything up to 15 miles between them but at the last position update, Oman's flagship boat had eked out a 12 mile lead over the three other boats who were separated by just five miles.

As predicted, conditions have been rough but according to Oman Air-Musandam's Damian Foxall, not as bad as expected.

"It has been pretty bouncy which we were expecting but we have also had some beautiful sailing out here," he said.

"Currently we are going fast upwind doing about 23 knots and are about two hours from the Fastnet Rock. After we round the Rock, anything could happen because things are expected to go light and there could in effect be a race restart."

The Fastnet Rock is about eight miles off the south west tip of Ireland and is familiar to all serious offshore sailors, whether professional or recreational, since it marks the turning point in the classic bi-annual offshore event, the Fastnet Race from Cowes to Plymouth.

When the Route des Princes fleet round the Rock, they will head north towards Dublin rather than south to Plymouth but this is likely to bring new challenges of a lighter breeze, Foxall said.

"At the moment we are concentrating on defending our lead so we have an advantage when things slow up. It looks like things will be slow working our way up the coast to Dun Laoghaire and at the moment it's not obvious whether local knowledge is going to be a factor or not."

If local knowledge comes into play, Oman Air-Musandam will be at a distinct advantage since Foxall is Ireland's leading offshore sailor, having learned his sailing in County Kerry and spent his early years racing round Ireland's coastlines.

At this stage, Foxall said, it was impossible to tell from the weather how the approach into the finish at Dun Laoghaire, around 250 miles away, would pan out but they were looking at an ETA of around 0700 on Wednesday.

For Omani sailor Fahad Al Hasni, the proximity of the racing has brought the best out of the Oman Air-Musandam crew.

"We decided to go further west last night which wasn't the most obvious routing but so far it worked out really well for us and we are now in the lead," said Al Hasni.

"We'll have a tough job trying to defend this over the next 250 miles but we are really looking forward to it."

Full transcript of podcast: 

Damian Foxall (IRL, Oman Air-Musandam): " Last night was pretty nice conditions. Actually thinking back it was very nice conditions, not too rough. We were beating up the western approaches on the wind with a westerly current coming down the west coast and an NE'ly flow coming down the Irish Sea. So fairly early we decided we would favour the left hand side, we would be in the left hand shift approaching Fastnet, and the other guys went the other way. So we basically stepped off a little more to the left this morning to cover them. So we were shy reaching into the Fastnet in good conditions, but had a little bit of a scare – well not a scare but a little bit of a stressful moment before the Fastnet when we we were doing about 28kts and the rudder popped up. It must have hit something soft, like a Sunfish or something, but no stress, we slowed down and put it back in place. These central rudders are designed to kick up and so it was fine. Now it is going really light as we go around the Fastnet and the trick is when we start going NE whether everyone is going out into the SE'ly to try and step across. In the meantime all is going well. It is great to see the green fields of SW Cork and to see the Fastnet this morning."
On being only Irish sailor in fleet and passing Fastnet in the lead?
" I think I said thank you to Sidney this morning. I certainly don't take these things for granted. I am very privileged first of all to be racing these boats and also most importantly to be leading the fleet around Fastnet. And of course taking valuable points. Spindrift have got points from the Cascais mark, and we picked up this one. But there is meant to be a race re-start and we can see all the other boats around about us, so it does not really mean too much. We are trying to hang on in what is going to be a very difficult final 24 hours or so, round the SE coast and up the East coast of Ireland."


Published in Route des Princes Team

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