The experts, who commented on the racing in Venice, got it right: Yann Guichard and his crew have been the revelation at this opening event. Always sailing up at the front thanks to some excellent starts followed by some fine sailing, but also thanks to manoeuvres which were carried out with perfect timing, the crew of Gitana Extreme managed the best performance of the day: with a win in the second race, three second places and one sixth, the one-design boat owned by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild moved up a spot and took the lead in the provisional rankings. A result that was bound to satisfy Yann Guichard: "We're happy! We managed to get some steady results and got off to some excellent starts throughout the afternoon, which certainly helps. But the positive element that I really wish to stress today is the way the team worked together. Whether we were in front or behind, the atmosphere was always great, which enabled us to get out of any tricky situations. Pierre Pennec, who is in charge of tactics on board, was quite simply brilliant, as the sail area was certainly not that easy to deal with. I think the results on this second day and our leadership in the provisional rankings show clearly what life is like aboard Gitana Extreme," explained the skipper of Gitana Extreme before analysing the rankings: "In terms of points, we are close to Oracle, who are sailing very smoothly and once again today the races showed that things can change very quickly. Everything is still to play for. Tomorrow looks like being a close fight, but that is something we enjoy!"
The privilege of going aboard Gitana Extreme for a race …
If weather conditions allow, in other words if the wind does not strengthen to more than 18 knots, the crew invite a guest on board. This privileged fifth man can thus experience for himself the race from the inside.
Extracts: during the final approaches to the start, the boats are so close together that you can just reach out and touch your neighbours: you need to get in the right place and not be intimidated by your rivals, keep up the pressure while respecting race rules … You really need to master all these points, if you want to have a hope of setting off in the lead. Yann Guichard and his crew managed to do well in this little game. But once the line is crossed, you already start to focus on the windward buoy which lies ahead of your bows. We should add that the races in the iShares Cup are particularly short and that the races do not exceed twenty minutes. At this mark, where being in the right place is vial and the slightest mistake can cost you dearly, the excitement builds. It is indeed here that the rankings can change in just a few seconds and you can find yourself facing penalties. The fleet may be racing around two or three times, so the manoeuvres come rapidly one after the other, and the orders just keep coming. Yann Guichard at the helm directs his crew, but everyone knows his place perfectly and sails Gitana Extreme to the top of the rankings. One of those rare exciting moments, which will remain on our minds as something quite exceptional.
The crew of Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rothschild
Yann Guichard (skipper-helmsman)
Pierre Pennec (mainsail trimmer, tactician), Christophe Lassegue (headsail trimmer, manoeuvres) and Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer, manoeuvres)
Rankings at the end of the day (after all the races)
1/ Gitana Extrême- Groupe LCF Rothschild (Yann GUICHARD) - 78 points
2/ BMW Oracle Racing (James Spithill) - 74 points
3/ Oman Sail Masirah (Pete Cumming) -69 points
4/ Oman Sail Renaissance (Loïck Peyron) - 66 points
5/ Holmatro (Carolijn Brouwer) - 59 points
6/ Luna (Erik Maris) - 45 points
7/ BT (Nick Moloney) - 45 points
8/ Groupama 40 (Gildas Philippe) - 44 points
9/ iShares - Shirley Robertson - 41 points
10/ Ecover - Mike Golding - 27 points