Thursday 26 April 2018

Sailing: Gavignet's Oman Air facing battle to maintain slender lead

James Hall

Damian Foxall and the team on Oman Air made good on their resolve to improve their performance for the in-port races in the Route des Princes series in Lisbon.

Skipper Sidney Gavignet and his crew remain overall series leaders as the nine-boat fleet embarked on their second offshore stage yesterday after their win into Lisbon last Wednesday.

The team counted a race win and some podium results on Friday and Saturday in the short harbour courses that were in marked contrast to a week earlier in Valencia, when they were in last place.

However, while the Oman crew lead in the overall round Europe race standings, their lead is a slim two points and Yann Guichard's Spindrift team is proving stronger in the in-port races.

This second leg to Dun Laoghaire is expected to take around three days and the first of two bonus scoring-gates – worth two points each – is awarded this evening off Caiscais, while the second chance to gain points before the finish is close to Foxall's home waters at the Fastnet Rock lighthouse.

Next weekend will see the next round of in-port races off Dun Laoghaire in a repeat of last summer's visit of the MOD70 fleet.

Next Monday, the third leg restarts the race, this time to Plymouth, though the faster MOD70s will attempt to break the 20-year-old round Ireland speed sailing record in the process.

Meanwhile, in Fenit on Saturday, continued high winds forced the abandonment of the full programme of racing in the ICRA national championships where 500 sailors from around Ireland had gathered to decide four Irish titles for club-level keelboats.

Fresh winds on Friday also halted racing, though a third race of one hour was completed which delivered an official championship result.

The outcome saw Anthony O'Leary's Antix retain his Class Zero title, while Colin Byrne on Bon Exemple won class one. Nigel Biggs' Checkmate won Class Two with a hat-trick of wins, while Barry Cunningham on Quest won Class Three.

Irish Independent

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