In the Extreme Sailing Series, the situation is constantly changing and for a lot of people that’s the beauty of this circuit. However the scenario which played out yesterday afternoon on the waters of theYellow Seawas one of the tensest ever for the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild since its arrival in this series, back in 2009. Though Leigh McMillan’s men quickly gained the upper hand over their rivals and continued to stretch out their lead in the standing, their pursuers had to battle right up to the final second to secure their place. As such Edmond de Rothschild Group, Red Bull Sailing Team, Oman Air as well as GAC Pindar were protagonists in a game of musical chairs of a rare intensity! And in line with tradition, it was necessary to wait until the final race of the Grand Prix – the one which scores double points – to discover the top trio in this second act of the season.
A review of how the four days of competition in Qingdao unfolded
Friday 20 April – When the committee launched the twenty-ninth race, five boats were still in contention for the top spots on the Chinese podium. Third, just a point shy of second place and a point ahead of fourth place, Pierre Pennec and his crew knew that they couldn’t afford to mess up and that they had to finish in front. At the end of the first reach, they were lying in second place as they rounded the first mark. However, in the ensuing beat, Roman Hagara, in ambush, benefited from a gust that Pierre Pennec and his men couldn’t latch onto. The Austrian made the most of it to slip ahead of the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. The variations in the wind broke the momentum of the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group, which ranked third in the event.
“Prior to the final race, we were in with a chance of anything from second to sixth place, so I’m satisfied with this third place, as it’s once again enabled us to conclude an event on the podium. We know that this is what you need to do in order to shine in the annual championship, one of the main difficulties on this circuit being a consistent performance. A further satisfaction is achieving this place in what was a very high performing fleet in Qingdao. We were able to erase some of our shortcomings over the course of the event, which shows that we’ve made progress in the communication and the way we operate onboard. The other positive point is that we always manage to recover some places when we get off to a bad start. In these short courses, with oscillating wind, this is testament to the good dynamics we have going. However, there’s one very important problem we need to work on for the next Grand Prix: the starts” says a smiling Pierre Pennec, as he casts his mind forward to the next event: “I really enjoyed myself in this Grand Prix… Showing our adversaries that we could really handle the pressure, particularly over these last few days where there was everything to play for, augurs very well for the future. It’s just as important for the crew, who remain united and optimistic in every situation. We make our presence felt in the key moments and that’s a great omen for the six events left to race.”
Back on the dock, Pierre Pennec didn’t forget to salute the performance by the day’s winners: “I’d like to pass on my congratulations to The Wave Muscat, who sailed very well throughout the four days of racing. Its victory is indisputable and deserved. We knew they’d provide stiff competition in 2012 so this is confirmation of that. The question mark hangs over whether they will make the same mistakes as last year, where they lacked consistency: winner in Cowes then Trapani, one after the other, then ninth in Nice.”
So are the sailors that race for Edmond de Rothschild Group disappointed? A little, naturally, since these born competitors are only ever satisfied with victory. Nevertheless, with consistency being an indicator of a good result in the annual championship, the men of Gitana Team leftChinawith a real desire and keenness to strive for more: an opportunity which will come very soon on the waters of theBosphorusRiver, from 7 to 10 June 2012.
The team speaks out
Bernard Labro, bowman : “For this final day, we had between 5 and 15 knots. It was a very fluky breeze both in terms of strength and direction. In Qingdao we were sailing within the very heart of the city and the buildings which surround the race zone made things complicated in the races. In fact, the gusts hit the water without any prior indication. Naturally we’re a little disappointed because first and second place were within our grasp, but our third place is still a fine performance given our position on the morning of the last day (fifth). This second event of the season has enabled us to progress still further, though we still have some work ahead of us. With the exception of Pierre, who’s on the helm of Edmond de Rothschild Group for the second season, our crew is new and everyone is just discovering their posts (Hervé Cunningham is in charge of the headsail trimming, whilst last year he was bowman). Not everything is running smoothly yet, but the way we operate onboard is improving with every race. The difficulty of this circuit is that there are at least four weeks between each Grand Prix. As such, you’re constantly having to find your bearings again. However, that’s the name of the game for everyone involved.”
Romain Petit, fifth man : “It was my first Grand Prix on this craft and I’m really struck by the physique of the sailors and by the level of the fleet. I come from a Formula 18 background, where I compete in more amateur competitions, so this event with Edmond de Rothschild Group has been a fantastic revelation! Our third place may harbour a few regrets, but you have to look at things in a positive light. For the first three days of racing, we were fourth then fifth and then we finished third. This final result was good for the team’s morale. There are a lot of things we can work on but we have identified these. The atmosphere within this crew is very pleasant and it’s certainly one of the keys to the success of these sailors.”
Hervé Cunningham, headsail trimmer: “We had some fairly atypical starts throughout the week. Whether it was during the offshore races on the first day or in the ensuing stadium races, the race committee gave us reaching starts (wind on the beam). This exercise has never been our favourite, but after four days’ intensive learning, we’ve improved. The scenario for the final race, where five boats were still in contention for second place, testifies to the extremely similar level amongst the fleet. Our results were consistent, which is a positive point, but we still need to raise our game to win the Grands Prix and make up ground on The Wave Muscat in the championship standing.”
Standing for the Qingdao Grand Prix (twenty-nine races run)
- The WaveMuscat– 189 points
- Red Bull Sailing Team - 174 points
- Edmond de Rothschild Group - 171 points
- GAC Pindar - 164 points
- OmanAir - 162 points
- Zoulou - 158 points
- SAP Extreme Sailing Team - 130 points
- Alinghi - 129 points
- ChinaTeam - 74 points
Provisional standing for the Extreme Sailing Series after two Grands Prix (Muscat and Qingdao)
- The WaveMuscat– 19 points
- 2. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 16 points
- OmanAir – 16 points
- Red Bull Sailing Team – 16 points
- GAC Pindar - 13 points
- Zoulou - 10 points
- SAP Extreme Sailing Team - 7 points
- Alinghi - 7 points
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)
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 inPalma,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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