Despite the fatigue etched across the faces of the sailors from Gitana Team, all of them welcomed the decision taken by the organisers. Bowman Hervé Cunningham was the first to have his say: “I think it was a very good move to have us race this morning. We’re the first to get frustrated when there isn’t enough racing. It makes for a long day and we’re certainly happy to see the end, but it’s the light wind conditions above all that make things tiring.” These sentiments were echoed by Pierre Pennec: “We’re here to go sailing and the committee had the intelligence to adapt to the weather conditions and the wind variations throughout the day, to enable us to rack up the maximum number of races. For my crew, the physical dimension is under more pressure on days such as this. Indeed, even if there’s five knots of breeze, the multiple manœuvres require a good dose of energy. Our group is working very well and the atmosphere on board is relaxed, which I’m sure will be a real bonus with five days of racing.”
For the past two days, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the crews, among the best on the circuit, have been struggling to tame the race zone here in Nice. Philippe Mourniac, sports coach for the men of Gitana Team, explains his approach to the playing field:“Nice is a relatively open race zone, but overall it’s pretty random, which naturally makes things complicated. The wind conditions are very changeable between the morning and the afternoon, which is something we could testify to today. The wind varies and fluctuates in direction and intensity throughout the day. Even though you can still read it, this playing field still has its pitfalls because it’s a rather complex issue knowing how to determine with any degree of precision or certainty, how long the gusts will last or the extent of the less windy zones, which move about the race zone.”
In these timid and often very random airs, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group decided to opt for a rather conservative strategy. This evening it is evident that this choice has borne fruit because, thanks to some consistent results throughout the day, Pierre Pennec and his men have held onto second place in the provisional standing and gained a few precious points in relation to the current leader, Red Bull Sailing Team. “Today’s score is satisfactory, though given our results you couldn’t describe it as excellent. We didn’t get off to the best starts of the fleet and we didn’t win any races today, but that wasn’t our objective either. What we wanted was to put up as consistent a performance as possible to tackle the three ‘stadium’ days from a position amongst the lead boats. We’ve managed to pull that off and that’s where we’ve got a positive result”, admitted the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group. However, Pierre Pennec remains very cautious and has no intention of considering this ranking to be a done deal. The level of the competition observed on the water over the past two days is such, with the top five separated by just six points, that nothing’s set in stone and there’s everything to play for.
This is especially true given that tomorrow it’ll be a whole new ball game in the Bay of Angels! Indeed the race format will change and the catamarans will move closer to the celebrated Promenade des Anglais, to the great delight of the local public. The courses on offer will be shorter and the intensity of the races will go up a notch. In such a setting, Pierre Pennec’s men know that they’ll have to be more aggressive and more opportunistic. As regards the weather, the wind gods are likely to be just as undecided, but the organisers of the Extreme Sailing Series have opted to return to the traditional pattern of races for the circuit, with the jousting scheduled in for 1400 to 1700 hours. However, it’s already been announced to the crews competing in the Nice Grand Prix that they’ll be sailing in the morning on Saturday and Sunday.
Ranking for the Nice Grand Prix after the 2nd day
- Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – 90,5 points
- Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) - 89 points
- Luna Rossa (ITA) - 88 points
- Alinghi (SUI) – 85,5 points
- Artemis Racing (SWE) - 84 points
- Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 74 points
- Oman Air (OMA) – 60 points
- The Wave, Muscat (OMA) - 59 points
- Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) - 56 points
- Niceforyou (ITA) - 54 points
- Team Extreme (EUR) - 52 points