China on the menu in the Extreme Sailing Series
The second event, out of the eight which make up the Extreme Sailing Series 2012, begins tomorrow Tuesday 17 April on the Olympic race zone of Qingdao. A month and half on from the Muscat Grand Prix, the season’s inaugural meeting, a total of nine teams will be competing in the four-day competition on Chinese waters. With each of them having found their bearings, it’s highly likely that there will be turbulent times ahead and the top spots are sure to be fiercely contested.

Third in the Omani event, contested at the end of February, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group has arrived in China with the same winning spirit, keen to perform well and fully intending to continue the season as they began. However, Pierre Pennec and his men are all too aware that they’ll once again have to excel and fully express their potential if they are to secure themselves some medals in this week’s racing in China, given the site’s tough reputation. Indeed the race zone, which the Extreme Sailing Series fleet will be sailing on, has been known to be very tricky: “based on the experience gained here in Qingdao last year, we can and must expect all kinds of conditions: from calm spells to breezy conditions. We’ll be racing outside the harbour stadium on the first day, followed by three days on a very enclosed race zone, surrounded by skyscrapers and intersected by a number of local geographical phenomena which will disrupt the wind. It’s a very interesting playing field which calls for both opportunism and versatility. Last year we experienced some tricky weather conditions, with a great many capsizes in the breezy conditions. On this site, when there’s an offshore breeze, it can be particularly unpredictable due to the buildings which surround the sailing zone and ruffle the wind’s classic trajectory,” explained the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group.

In order to decipher this notoriously difficult race zone and access the top of the leaderboard, Pierre Pennec will be able to rely on his solid group, which really bonded during the Oman Grand Prix: “I haven’t sailed with the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group since Muscat (early March) and I was keen to get back together with my teammates. As always we’ve only had a short amount of time to find our bearings again with just two afternoons of training. However, these few hours were precious and instructive, especially as they enabled our new crew member to discover how things operate aboard the boat. This year, the circuit has introduced a new feature to the event, with a fifth sailor fleshing out the crew. In Oman, we opted for Adeline Chatenet, who was both light and a physiotherapist. However, the four days of competition in Muscat led us to seek a slightly different profile because beyond 10 knots, the participation of this fifth sailor in the manœuvres is not insignificant. In this way, Romain Petit has joined the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group as he fulfils the criteria for this role, which is stipulated by the organisation; namely he’s under 23 years of age, and is either a woman or an amateur, the latter of which is true in this case. This young guy stems from the Formula 18 circuit, a craft on which he has secured some fine results. There’s another new feature in Qingdao too, this time as regards our sports coach. Alexandre Guyader will replace Thierry Peponnet, whose work schedule means that he can’t be with us in Qingdao. However, it’s very interesting to have a fresh eye on the outside. Alexandre is one of the most talented windsurfers of his generation and he’s very familiar with the multihull thanks notably to an Olympic preparation in the Tornado. Added to that, he’s already sailed in the Extreme 40 so he knows as much about the craft as he does the concept”, says Pierre Pennec assuredly.

Though the Grand Prix on Omani waters marked the start of a new season and provided a glimpse of the teams in training, in Qingdao, there won’t be any of that. The running-in period is over and tomorrow the nine competing teams will be straight in at the deep end once the starting gun fires. This is something that the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group is very much aware of on the eve of the first round of battles: “Last year, I held back too much in the China Grand Prix, because after our victory in Oman in 2011 I was keen to aim for the top five spots rather than a win. This year, I’m not in Qingdao with the same mindset. To be in front, you have to take a few risks, especially as the level of play is sure to be higher than that observed in Muscat at the end of February. Indeed we could see a real difference out there between the training sessions and the competition itself.”

For the time being, the weather forecasts are indicating around ten knots of breeze throughout the competition. However, as Pierre Pennec mentioned before, history has shown that on the banks of the Yellow River, the wind gods weren’t always where you expected them to be. The initial confrontations will begin tomorrow from 1300 hours local time, early morning in Europe (0500 UTC).

Day to Day Programme for the China Grand Prix

Tuesday 17 April – 1st day of racing

1300–1600 hours / Offshore races

Evening: opening ceremony in Qingdao’s Olympic marina

Wednesday 18 April – 2nd day of racing

1300-1600 hours / Stadium races

Thursday 19 April – 3rd day of racing

1300-1600 hours / Stadium races

Friday 20 April – 4th day of racing

1300-1600 hours / Stadium races

1630 hours / prize-giving

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group

Pierre Pennec (Skipper / helmsman),

Jean-Christophe Mourniac (trimmer and mainsail traveller),

Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer),

Bernard Labro (Bowman)

Romain Petit (5th man)

Alexandre Guyader(Sports coach)

Provisional standing for the Extreme Sailing Series after the Muscat Grand Prix
  1. Oman Air – 10 points
  2. The Wave Muscat – 9 points
  3. 3. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 8 points
  4. Red Bull Sailing Team – 7 points
  5. GAC Pindar - 6 points
  6. Zoulou - 5 points
  7. Alinghi - 4 points
  8. Team Trifork - 3 points

The Extreme Edmond de Rothschild Group supports the Joves Navegants foundation

The family of Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has always had a passion for nautical activities, a commitment embodied today by the Gitana Team. As such the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations have quite naturally been sensitive to the mission of Joves Navegants and touched by the profound collective commitment to helping these young people in precarious situations.

Inspired by the methods of British Sailing associations, which help young people in difficulty, some enthusiastic sailors who have settled in Palma, Mallorca, decided to create Joves Navegants. Aware of the complicated situation for certain youngsters on the island in serious economic and family difficulties, they have chosen to share their passion. The foundation organises several types of trips out to sea on the yacht, Galaxie. These days out involve journeys of discovery, awareness campaigns for sustainable development, participation in races and training aids to enable certain youngsters to envisage sailing as a professional career.

The Edmond de Rothschild Foundation will be supporting Joves Navegants in the organisation of trips out to sea during the summer, enabling the necessary technical improvements to be made on the Galaxie and making it possible for a team to take part in the “Ruta de la Sal” race in April.

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