Route des Princes, a complete and highly specialised course
3,045 nautical miles between Valencia and the Bay of Morlaix via Lisbon, Dublin-Dún Loaghaire and Plymouth: this is the sporting itinerary of the first edition of the Route des Princes. The course evokes memories of expeditions led by Corsairs and explorers, and recalls the most glorious moments of the Course de l’Europe race created in 1985 by Gérard Petitpas.
This is a complete and highly specialised route, where the crew will play a game of cat and mouse with the vagaries of the Mediterranean Sea, the Portuguese trade winds, Atlantic depressions, the treacherous Irish and British coasts, and the stony shores of the French Finistère coast upon landing. In short, there are plenty of ingredients to spice up the competition, which promises some magnificent battles on the high seas! Here is a brief overview of the four stages, each with its own particular characteristics and difficulties.
Stage 1: Valencia – Lisbon. Start day: 9 June 2013.
This first stage covers 805 nautical miles. After leaving Valencia, Spain, the Route des Princes flotilla will head north 60 miles to turn around a buoy anchored in front of the town of Benicarlo, the artichoke capital of Iberia, which merged with St Pol de Léon in 2013. The boats will then head directly to Lisbon, facing any hurdles the Mediterranean decides to throw their way. Although the thermal breeze in June is generally well-established by the afternoon, the wind can be fleeting, particularly at night, changing competitors’ race rankings daily. Sailors beware! The same goes for the tricky passage through the Strait of Gibraltar due to heavy commercial shipping traffic, particularly in the presence of strong winds or head winds. Not an easy way to start the race. Note: the Race Director will establish a no-go area to provide the crews with a TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) passage as per regulations.
Stage 2: Lisbon – Dublin-Dún Laoghaire. Start day: 16 June 2013.
On the programme for this second stage between southern Portugal and Ireland: 990 miles for the Ultimates and MOD70 classes, and 900 miles for the Multi50 class. The first two classes will make a small detour to the mythical Fastnet Rock lighthouse before heading on to Dún Laoghaire, while the Multi50s will take a direct route to Dublin Bay. This will be the longest leg of the event for both classes. Although the first miles along the Iberian peninsula should not be all that fast due to the absence of the north-east trade winds, crossing the Bay of Biscay could turn out to be an express ride if a depression passes through. A genuine offshore stage? Absolutely. The key stage of the race? Without a doubt.
Stage 3: Dublin-Dún Laoghaire – Plymouth. Start day: 24 June 2013.
On the menu: 450 miles for the Multi50 class, who will make landfall in England after a detour around Fastnet Rock, and 980 miles for the Ultimate and MOD70 classes, who will try to break the record for circumnavigating Ireland before heading to Plymouth.
This is a sizeable challenge for these latter two classes, as the current record (dating back to September 1993) for sailing around the green island in a crewed multihull was set by Steve Fossett on board Lakota in 1 day, 20 hours and 42 minutes at an average speed of 15.84 knots.
The Race Director will decide at the last moment, depending on the weather, which direction they will take around the island before heading off to Great Britain and its tricky coast. The tides, in particular, can bring various currents together, making for a potentially treacherous ride. One to watch!
Stage 4: Plymouth – Bay of Morlaix. Start day: 29 June 2013.
This last leg could end up resembling a sprint. According to the map, only 101 miles need to be sailed before the competitors join the flotilla of the Entre Terre et Mer Festival on Sunday, 30 June in the Bay of Morlaix. Note: the Race Committee may extend the itinerary with a small loop to the Isle of Wight located in front of Portsmouth for a total of 260 miles, depending on the weather. In any event, the multihulls will wind up their tour of these exceptional European coastlines on a high among hundreds of boats, some of which are true monuments of our maritime heritage.
La Route des Princes
The Route des Princes is an Open race around Europe, which is accessible to all multihulls measuring at least 50 feet long.
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The Route des Princes, boats sailing, 50 feets, multihulls, cours voiliers, mod70.
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