Edmond de Rothschild Group back in the game
Pierre Pennec and his men were back in business this afternoon despite their severe collision with Artemis Racing yesterday during the first race of the day. This incident, which seriously damaged the port bow on Edmond de Rothschild Group, required the shore team, made up of Marie Dixneuf and Cyril Ducrot, to work through the night. However, this work certainly wasn’t in vain, quite the contrary in fact. Taking victory in one race and ranking second in the following race this Monday, the men from Gitana are up on the second step of the provisional podium this evening, less than a point shy of Luna Rossa.

The Gitana Team had been involved in a race against the clock since yesterday afternoon. However, after a night without sleep the shore team were able to repair the port bow, which had been damaged in the incident with Artemis Racing, and Edmond de Rothschild Group was launched shortly before 1400 GMT, just as racing was starting on this third day of the competition. Just like yesterday, the fleet was split into two in order to minimise the risk in what were still very breezy conditions (between 20 and 25 knots) and Gitana Extreme were part of the second group. Despite considerable effort, Pierre Pennec’s men didn’t manage to take the start of the first race. This didn’t really have any impact as the jury’s decision earlier in the morning had already awarded them redress* for any race not competed in. “We did our very best to be on the water ready to sail as early as possible but, despite all that, we weren’t able to compete in the first race for our group. In fact there are a few things that need doing when you relaunch a boat. It doesn’t mean that because the sails are hoisted you’re ready to sail straightaway. The jury’s decision gave us this right and we made the most of it”, explained Pierre Pennec.

As they left the pit lane, the crew were keen to write a little message to Marie Dixneuf and Cyril Ducrot on the freshly made bow. “Thanks Marie, Thanks Cyril”, just a few words which said volumes about how much Pierre Pennec and his three crew value their shore team. However, the men from Gitana Team didn’t want it to end there, as the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group explained: “To find yourself in trouble bonds a group as much as a victory. Despite the problems we had yesterday, the team remained united and positive, which is very important in this type of project. Marie and Cyril worked relentlessly so that we could sail today and they did it with a smile and good humour, despite the fatigue and the stress. We really wanted to thank them in the best way we knew how on the water today. Our victory and our second place of the day are for them.”

Of note today was the capsize of Aberdeen Asset Management – a newcomer to the circuit – during today’s last race. With the breeze filling across the waters of the Solent and the Extreme 40s on a flyer in their last downwind run this Monday, John Pink’s crew lost control of their steed. As we go to press we don’t yet know if they’ll be able to race tomorrow.

Tomorrow, the racing is set to begin at around 1500 GMT and if the weather conditions allow, this fourth day of the Cowes Grand Prix could be marked by a return to fleet racing.


Artemis Racing deemed to be responsible for the incident with Edmond de Rothschild Group

Once back alongside yesterday, Pierre Pennec and Thierry Fouchier lodged a protest with the event jury which announced that Edmond de Rothschild Group wasn’t responsible for the incident and that the crew had done everything in its power to avoid the collision. Summoned to Venture Quays at 0915 GMT this morning to defend their case, the two sailors had to sit through an hour of discussions before returning to the rest of the team bearing glad tidings, as Thierry Fouchier explains: “The jury recognised Artemis as being responsible for the collision, which will notably enable us to make up some points in the general ranking. I don’t often get involved with the jury during racing, but it was rather reminiscent of a game of poker. Each person gives their version of events and naturally these are different otherwise we wouldn’t be there. Those videos which were available were clearly favouring our version. One of the umpires, who usually judges contentious issues directly on the water during racing, was very well positioned and backed up what we were saying. Regrettably one of our direct rivals in the ranking came along to testify against us… which is a shame! We’ve always sailed cleanly on the water up till now and this judgement demonstrates that, despite this big crash, we also sailed cleanly yesterday.” Edmond de Rothschild thus received a redress of 19.4 points. Such a result corresponded with the average number of points acquired during the first day of racing.


The team speak out:

Christophe Espagnon, mainsail trimmer: “There is a real sense of satisfaction tonight: that of having been able to race thanks to the shore team and that of having racked up some good races on the water. The first race, which we won, was hard but we were all keen to do well for Marie and Cyril. To get good results you need to have a sailing team which is working well and a solid shore team. Here they more than proved themselves. The race zone and the conditions which have reigned at Cowes over recent days have made racing really tricky. There’s a lot of wind so we lose a lot of time in the tack changes, powering up again is difficult and all that makes it very full-on as we cross tacks with the different boats. You see a lot of variation in speed, which is difficult to judge and appreciate. Added to that, nobody lets you off lightly as everyone is here to win.”

Marie Dixneuf, préparateur in charge of the composites: “ It was a hard night but I feel a bit happier this morning because we’re nearing the end. In the complicated moments I was able to rely on Cyril’s support and this bow is the result of real teamwork! I was keen to see the boat on the water so the team could get on with defending its chances and that’s exactly what they did and they did it well. We still have a bit of work on our hands this evening which is why we’ve lifted the boat out onto the hard again. We just want to get rid of the few remaining imperfections, which we didn’t have time to finish in the allotted time, and we also want to redo the fairing on the damaged bow section.”


Ranking for the Cowes Grand Prix after the 3rd day (after the jury)

  1. Luna Rossa (ITA)
  2. Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA)
  3. The Wave, Muscat (OMA)
  4. Team GAC Pindar (GBR)
  5. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT)
  6. Alinghi (SUI)
  7. Oman Air (OMA)
  8. Niceforyou (ITA)
  9. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ)
  10. Aberdeen Asset Management (UK)
  11. Artemis Racing (SWE) 
  12. Team Extreme (EUR)

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