Close game amidst the gusts…
The 4th event in the 2009 schedule has got off to a good start with seven races run and a number of switches in position throughout the day. There was some good play and some not so good play for the crew of Gitana Extreme –LCF Rothschild Group, who conclude this first day of competition in fourth place in the provisional ranking. However, the battle promises to be fierce as the very slight separation between the top four bears witness.
The sailors forecast a complicated race zone in Kiel and they certainly weren’t wrong. Indeed a wind of around fifteen knots blew throughout the afternoon but it was the numerous tricky gusts which spiced up proceedings for the fleet of Extreme 40s. Unfortunately, one team paid the price for these shifty conditions. The skipper of Ecover, Mike Golding, got caught out by a big gust as they were heading for the start line of today’s 4th race. There were serious consequences since Ecover capsized and broke her mast. The participation of the English crew may thus be compromised for the rest of the competition.
“We’ve had mixed results! We started off very well with two second places and one third, but unfortunately we didn’t end as we began. The wind kicked in a bit and I think we were up to scratch with our trimming” agreed Yann Guichard. “It’s a difficult race zone. You have to be an opportunist, with a constant eye on the wind! However, the level’s gone up a notch and if we want to win, we’ve got to take a few risks whilst sailing cleanly. On the 6th race we were bringing up the rear after a big error on us by Oman Sail Masirah. It’s annoying as the umpires on the water didn’t do their job correctly, but I prefer that to hitting a boat.”
With two victories and a good level of consistency, Pete Cumming’s crew came first in the grand prix once more. However, contrary to the events in Hyères and Cowes, where the Sultan of Oman’s team displayed real superiority from the outset, in Kiel the level is more homogenous, as the very slight separation in points bears witness. 
Tomorrow a big day lies ahead of the crews of the competing Extreme 40s. Indeed the latest weather forecasts are showing around twenty knots of breeze, with the same numerous gusts as today on the German race zone. Though Yann Guichard and his three crew know that these breezy conditions promise some physical and difficult races, they also know that this will open things right up. Just a point away from the provisional rostrum anything’s possible!
Crew of Gitana Extreme - LCF Rothschild Group
Yann Guichard (skipper-helm)
Pierre Pennec (mainsail traveller trimmer, tactics), Christophe Lassegue (headsail trimmer, control of manoeuvres) and Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer, control of manoeuvres)
Ranking on the first day (after 7 races)
1/ Oman Sail Masirah (Pete Cumming) – 62 points
2/ Groupama 40 (Franck Cammas) – 51 points
3/ Oman Sail Renaissance (Loïck Peyron) – 47 points
4/ Gitana Extreme- LCF Rothschild Group (Yann GUICHARD) – 46 points
5/ BT (Nick Moloney) – 38 points
6/ iShares (Shirley Robertson) – 37 points
7/ Luna (Erik Maris) – 36 points
8/ Holmatro (Mitch Booth) – 32 points
9/ Wirsol Team German (Roland Gäbler) - 19 points
10/ Ecover (Mike Golding) – 8 points
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