Status quo in the hierarchy in Boston
Eight races were contested this Saturday on the race zone in Boston, with a fresher breeze of around 10 knots. Today’s races didn’t upset the hierarchy already established, but they did close the deficits between the top seven boats, which all stand a chance of a podium place in Act 4 of the season. At the end of the third day of the competition, the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has held onto the foot of the podium, but is piling a little more pressure on the shoulders of her direct rivals as she closes on them. Though they are naturally focused on the top trio, Pierre Pennec and his three crew aren’t forgetting to keep an eye on their rear view mirror as their pursuers haven’t yet had their final say.

The crews are finding it difficult to get the edge and that certainly comes as no surprise. The more Grands Prix which take place, the more similar the level within the Extreme Sailing Series fleet. This similarity inevitably leads to some highly numerous contact phases between the various one-designs, and it’s precisely during this incessant crossing of tacks that points are won and lost: “we received a few penalties today, especially during the windward beats (first mark to be rounded after the start). When we arrived on port tack (namely without priority on the boats coming in on starboard tack), I clearly showed the boats with priority that I was respecting the rule by slowing down to let them pass, but certain boats were pushing deeper, despite all that, so as to put us out of the game, which is fair enough. However, this is why we had a few 360° turns for the crew to perform, in order to make up for these mistakes”, explained Pierre Pennec. “These errors cost us too dearly and we have to erase them. It’s up to me to bring my head out of the boat in order to better anticipate these phases and communicate the information necessary for my team.”

“We opted to sail with a margin of safety today, in particular by not systematically seeking to head out on starboard, where conditions were more favourable, but also a lot more selective. A large part of the fleet was concentrated there but ultimately solely two or three boats managed to extricate themselves. However, when setting out to port, we were guaranteed of a place in the top four at the first course mark. From tomorrow our tactics should be different and more offensive though. At that point there will be two days of racing remaining and around fifteen races to run. This evening, we’re lying in ambush, but we’re going to have to switch to the attack to make a difference”, announced Hervé Cunningham, the bowman aboard.

The facts are that in the provisional ranking for the Boston Grand Prix, at the end of this third day, the results are highly reminiscent of yesterday’s. However, it should be noted that there are a few subtle differences. Still fourth, Pierre Pennec and his three crew have clawed back a few very precious points from The Wave Muscat and Emirates Team New Zealand, respectively second and third. Artemis is holding onto the top spot, demonstrating few faults over the course of the afternoon. However, only making reference to this foursome would not painting the complete picture. Indeed, this evening, the top seven crews still stand a chance of a podium place. This said, the next two days of racing promise to be full of tension.

Today Pierre Pennec and his men played host to a notable guest aboard the boat. In fact Sébastien Josse, the skipper of Gitana 11 and the future MOD 70 Edmond de Rothschild Group, took on the role of 5th man for one race. He gave us his impressions about this unique experience: “This was my first race on an Extreme 40 and added to that I was there just as an observer, forbidden to say or touch anything. I really appreciated the experience as it’s very intense. The races are very short, the boats are constantly in contact and the level I observed within the fleet is impressive. The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group is very discreet. Aboard the boat, words are rare but extremely precise. Despite some fairly complicated situations to deal with, you get absolutely no sense of stress or irritation. The manœuvres are performed to perfection and you can clearly see that they’ve become automatic reflexes. It’s clearly one of the best crews on the circuit. And when you see the big names they’re racing against, that’s saying a lot! The boats are very close and there is not one which is dominating. This constant battle on the water is testimony to the quality and intensity of this championship."
This trip to Boston isn’t solely a courtesy visit for Sébastien Josse. It is also an opportunity for him to get to know the four sailors before he embarks them aboard Gitana 11 for a few days’ sailing: “We form part of the same team but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to meet each other as they have a very busy international programme. In mid-July, they’ll come and sail with me in La Trinité-sur-Mer as their various profiles may prove very interesting for the future”, concluded Sébastien.

Tomorrow, for the fourth and penultimate day of racing in Boston, a steadier wind is forecast. This air flow is also set to switch direction to that of the first day of racing, which means it will be coming from the city. As such the scenario is likely to involve a very changeable and capricious wind, disturbed by the skyscrapers despite its force. Racing starts at 1400 hours (local time).

Ranking for the Boston Grand Prix on Saturday 2 July (after 21 races)
1. Artemis Racing (SWE)  –  169 points
2. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – 159 points
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) – 158 points
4. Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) –  156 points
5. Luna Rossa (ITA) – 151 points
6. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – 148 points
7. Alinghi  (SUI) –  141 points
8. Niceforyou (ITA) – 114 points
9. Oman Air (OMA) – 106 points
10. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 83 points
11. Team Extreme (EUR) – 72 points

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