Edmond de Rothschild Group moves up into the lead in the Istanbul Grand Prix
What a day! Pierre Pennec and his three crew put on a spectacular show throughout the course of this afternoon. Fourth last night, after the nine races run this Friday, they’re up in the top spot in the Istanbul Grand Prix. They owe this place to a very consistent performance, with the whole crew doing an exemplary job, displaying unfailing cohesion, which enabled then to chase down every point on the water. With two days left to race and a single point separating the top two teams, the die certainly hasn’t been cast, but the points racked up today have the men from Edmond de Rothschild Group firing on all cyclinders in their quest for a second event victory this year.

Christophe Espagnon, in charge of the mainsail trimming, mentioned a slight lack of consistency by the crew on Edmond de Rothschild Group yesterday. However, by winning two of today’s races and managing to rank in the top 5 eight times, Pierre Pennec’s men have adjusted their aim perfectly. This Friday they enjoyed the best day of the Extreme Sailing Series fleet and have managed to move up into pole position to the detriment of Artemis. An impressive performance if we recall that this time yesterday, the Swedish team boasted a twenty-one point lead over the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. “We’ve wiped the points slate clean tonight and it’s a whole new series of races that begin tomorrow and we still have a great deal to do”, said Thierry Fouchier, all smiles on returning to shore. “We’ve managed to be consistent, with the exception of one race where we got off to a bad start and were awarded a penalty turn by the judges. All of a sudden we ended up bringing up the rear in this race but that happens on this circuit. You just have to accept it and very quickly move on, which is what we did. It’s a fine day and we’re savouring it because we know only too well that everything could go one way or the other in the blink of an eye. The battle is very closely fought but the competition is all the more exciting for that”, said the delighted sailor who is a native of Marseille.

After three days of competition and over twenty-three races in the estuary, the crews are inevitably tiring. Nevertheless, the men have been doing some physical preparation throughout the season and are unanimous about their form: “The fatigue has certainly set in but we know the circuit is wearing and we’ve been preparing for that. In fact I think that’s one of our crew’s strengths. Though the committee decided to launch more races today, we were all on the attack, ready for some more action!” confirmed Christophe Espagnon.

“The wind was oscillating between 12 and 14 knots and the forecasts which were announcing slightly stronger gusts didn’t actually play out on the water. Despite all that, the courses on offer were shorter than on the two previous days, which led to some pretty full-on mark roundings with lots of contact, so things were very violent.” Indeed, the third day of racing in Istanbul was unfortunately marked by a major collision between Team Extreme and Alinghi. Occurring in the fourth race, it forced the two one-designs to throw in the towel for the rest of the afternoon. This had serious consequences on the ranking for the Swiss team, who were still in second place yesterday evening. In this particular incident, the port hull on Team Extreme suffered very serious damage, too much to stand a chance of returning to the Turkish race zone. As such, Roland Gaebler’s team sadly announced its retirement from the Istanbul Grand Prix this evening.

Tomorrow racing will begin an hour later than usual, with the first start due to take place shortly after 1500 hours (Istanbul time).


The crew speaks out

Thierry Fouchier, headsail trimmer
“We were very confident aboard today. Everyone got their bearings on this rather specific race zone and Pierre was very much at ease and incisive at the starts today. In the Extreme circuit, it’s often the helmsman who does everything and we’re just here to help him as much as possible.”

Pierre Pennec, skipper and helmsman on Edmond de Rothschild Group
“There are some days when everything goes right. We manage to position ourselves where we want on the line and everything goes smoothly from there on in without the slightest blip; that’s just how it was today. I was at ease with the boat speed upwind and downwind. The wind was oscillating but I managed to quickly find the right angles. Above all I managed to ‘get my head out of the boat’, which means I could focus more on tactics than on previous days. All that is possible thanks to the confidence within the crew. It makes for a very positive atmosphere aboard and I can sense the solidity of my team. It’s a huge asset as it enables me to launch into any manoeuvre I like at any time, as I know it will be executed to perfection.We got off to some more conservative starts, which enabled us greater freedom, especially in our initial tack changes, and gave us clear water around us, which is synonymous with having greater manoeuvrability and the ability to do things at our own speed the whole time.”

Cyril Dardashti, team manager
“I’m very proud and entirely satisfied with the day the crew has just given us. They’ve managed to make up twenty-two points! I think it’s the first time a team has managed to pull off such a fine performance in the championship, or this year at least. They know exactly how to read the race zone and be opportunistic when necessary and it paid off. At the starts, they were always powered up, not necessarily in the best place, but always with some clear air, and I think that was one of the keys to their success today. It’s been a very fine day but right now the Grand Prix is far from over. I’m confident about the next stage in proceedings as, from the off, I feel that they are confident and relaxed, which certainly augurs very well.”


Provisional ranking in the Istanbul Grand Prix on 27 May (after 23 races)

  1. Edmond de Rothschild Group – 171 points
  2. Artemis Racing – 170 points
  3. Emirates Team New Zealand – 163 points
  4. Luna Rossa –   156 points
  5. The Wave, Muscat – 153 points
  6. Red Bull Extreme Sailing – 140 points
  7. Oman Air – 121 points
  8. Niceforyou – 112 points
  9. Team GAC Pindar – 112 points
  10. Alinghi –   111 points
  11. Team Extreme – 88 points
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