Everything to play for!
Tactical and demanding, the race zone in Amsterdam lived up to its reputation on this first day of racing. Given the capricious, light breeze the organisers were able to run eight races this Friday. Racking up two wins and putting in a very consistent performance throughout the afternoon, the men aboard Gitana Extreme - LCF Rothschild Group are lying in ambush just two points behind Oman Renaissance, the provisional leader. However, as everyone on the water could testify today, the team are going to have to battle it out all the way to the finish given the very slight separation between those in the top spots and those at the bottom of the table.
All smiles on his return to shore, Yann Guichard is a skipper who is happy with the performance achieved by his crew: “It’s a very satisfying first day. We sailed well despite the difficult conditions. There was a lot of contact with damaged boats but for our part we didn’t incur any penalties, which is really positive. All in all we got off to some good starts, except for in the last race where we crossed the line 50 centimetres too early! Whatever happens, despite overshooting the start, our positioning was spot on” explained the Breton sailor. “The first days have never been our forte so to finish 2nd this evening, just two points behind Oman Renaissance is motivating for the next stage. We’re going to have to dig our heels in over the next two days as I think the Amsterdam grand prix may be the turning point in this 2009 championship.”
A hard race zone to read
800 metres long by 200 wide, not to mention the canal boats moored alongside the quays, such is the setting when competing on this Dutch race zone. As such it is narrow as well as being flanked by numerous buildings. With such a playing field on offer to the Extreme 40s for this 5th stage of the circuit, even the best racers would be wise to be careful. Indeed the eight races run this Friday were certainly not something for the skipper of Gitana Extreme – LCF Rothschild Group and his rivals to sniff at: “The race zone is difficult on the one hand because it’s small and there are nine boats competing on it, and secondly the wind has never been stable either in terms of direction or intensity. We had between 4 and 10 knots of breeze through the day, but there were some little gusts which you couldn’t afford to miss and make the best of” explained Yann Guichard.
Tomorrow the wind isn’t likely to be as steady and if these forecasts prove right, racing may be even spicier than it already is. With this in prospect, Yann Guichard had this to say: “The battle is likely to be even more complicated tomorrow but you have to take things race by race and above all, never give up!”
Damage aboard Oman Sail Masirah
The leader of the championship – Oman Sail Masirah – has had a dark day. After some mixed results in the first three races, Pete Cumming’s men were involved in a collision with the Extreme 40 BT.  The classic port starboard incident due to a mistake by BT has had serious consequences since the hole made in the port hull after this violent impact forced the Oman team to make straight for the quayside. Masirah was lifted out of the water into the crowd to enable the shore crew to proceed with the necessary repairs: the composite work is set to last all night in order that the one design can continue racing at the start of tomorrow afternoon. As regards the ranking, given that they are not responsible for this unfortunate incident, Pete Cumming’s crew should be compensated for the five races they were unable to compete in today. However, suffice to say it’s a big setback for these men who will have their work cut out getting back in contact with the leaders. 
Crew of Gitana Extreme - LCF Rothschild Group
Yann Guichard (skipper-helm)
Pierre Pennec (mainsail traveller trimmer, tactics), Christophe Lassegue (headsail trimmer, control of manoeuvres) and Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer, control of manoeuvres)
Ranking on the first day (after 8 races)
1/ Oman Sail Renaissance (Loïck Peyron) - 65 points
2/ Gitana Extreme- LCF Rothschild Group (Yann GUICHARD) – 63 points
3/ Groupama 40 (Franck Cammas) – 61 points
4/ Holmatro (Mitch Booth) – 52 points
5/ iShares (Shirley Robertson) – 51 points
6/ Luna (Erik Maris) – 50 points
7/ BT (Nick Moloney) – 33 points
8/ Ecover (Mike Golding) – 25 points
9/ Oman Sail Masirah (Pete Cumming) – 12 points (prior to redress)
Provisional championship ranking (after four events)
1/ Oman Sail Masirah – 37 points (4th, 1st, 1st, 1st)
2/ Gitana Extreme- LCF Rothschild Group – 33 points (1st, 4th, 2nd, 4th)
3/Oman Sail Renaissance – 33 points (3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd)
4/ Groupama 40 – 25 points (5th, 5th, 6th, 3rd)
5/ BT – 17 points (6th, 6th, 4th, 8th)
6/ BMW Oracle – 18 points (2nd, 2nd, DNC, DNC, DNC)
7/ iShares – 17 points (9th, 7th, 5th, 6th)
8/ Luna – 16 points (7th, 9th, 7th, 5th)
9/ Holmatro – 13 points (8th, 8th, 8th, 7th)
10/ Ecover – 6 points (10th, 10th, 9th, 10th)
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