On their return to the dock yesterday, the men of Gitana Team made no bones about the fact that they’d struggled to find the keys to performance on the Brazilian race zone. However, the adage says that you learn from your mistakes… Well Pierre Pennec and his crew certainly learned the lesson and were much more at ease this afternoon: “In terms of wind, conditions tended to be less strong than yesterday. There were between 5 and 11 knots depending on where you were on the race zone. The sailing zone was a little clearer today as it was more marked and hence easier to read. However, the wind also ended up being split in two by Sugarloaf Mountain and it was necessary to anticipate that, which we got a better handle on today compared with yesterday,” indicated the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group, before giving us more of an insight into this second day of racing: “All in all we got off to some good starts and we had good speed. We won four races, which is very positive, but we also brought up the rear on two occasions. In the fourth race, Oman Air shut the door to us at the committee end of the line. This blocking move meant we had to select the bad side of the race zone, where we fell into a wind hole. We ended up at a complete standstill, without being able to do a thing about it, just watching helpless as everyone else hotfooted it out of there. In the final race, it was also the start, which exposed our shortcomings, but this time it was down to a lack of preparation on our part. At the end of the day, the situation is always a little screwy and we spent too much time observing the race zone to determine our strategy rather than preparing for our start. We were in the right place as whoever started out from there won the race, but we were too late. It’s obviously annoying to have such poor races, but today remains a very positive day for Edmond de Rothschild Group. We’ve made up a lot of points on our rivals at the front of the pack, we’re in contention and the crew feels confident.”
The five men of Edmond de Rothschild Group are competitors through and through. That’s why they’re constantly striving for excellence and don’t like to make do with an uneven results table. Indeed Hervé Cunningham, the headsail trimmer aboard the boat, stressed how important it is that the crew put up a consistent performance: “It’s always nice to have good races, but we are well aware that in the Extreme series it’s consistency which ultimately wins over. As such, it’s absolutely essential that we avoid the kind of mistakes we made today. We are our own worst enemies and we know it! Despite these two races which tarnished today’s results for us, the points tally is a positive one and we’re very much in the game still.”
On reading this evening’s standing, you can clearly see the intensity of the match the Extreme Sailing Series fleet have been embroiled in for the past two days. This latest Grand Prix may have major repercussions on the results of the annual championship. The teams are all too aware of that and are battling for every point. After fourteen races, the top five boats are separated by just five points… which is simply unheard of!
Seventh yesterday after the first day’s racing, Pierre Pennec and his four crew have managed to quickly draw lessons from their mediocre start. In fact, by securing four race wins out of the eight contested this Friday, the men of Gitana Team are up on the third step of the provisional podium this evening. They’ve made up eight points on The Wave Muscat, the current leader, which is tied on points with Roman Hagara’s crew. The latter are harvesting the fruit of their consistent performance even though they didn’t secure a single race win today. Behind them though, Oman Air, one of Edmond de Rothschild Group’s direct rivals, is just one point shy of the French catamaran: “It’s only the second day and the eight races this Friday perfectly illustrate the fact that everything can change very quickly. However, I’m really satisfied as we’re still in a good position and there’s little between us and our rivals. The game is still wide open!” concludes Pierre Pennec.
Provisional standing for the Rio Grand Prix (after 14 races)
1. Red Bull Sailing Team - 81 points
2. The Wave Muscat – 81 points
3. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 80 points
4. Oman Air – 79 points
5. Alinghi – 77 points
6. SAP Sailing Team – 70 points
7. Zoulou – 63 points
8. GAC Pindar - 56 points
9. Team Brasil - 43 points
The crew of the Extreme Edmond de Rothschild Group
Pierre Pennec (Skipper / Helmsman), Arnaud Psarofaghis (trimmer and traveller), Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer), Bernard Labro (bowman), Romain Petit (trimmer)