Everything to play for!
The fifth and penultimate day of competition in the Grand Prix of Cowes was seemingly endless…. On the waters of the Solent, eight races were contested, seven of which were run between 1700 and 2000 hours, in a NW’ly breeze that built throughout the day. The result was a consistent, albeit physically testing programme for the eight crews still competing. With 24 hours to go till the end of the competition, the race for outright victory is still up for grabs and Edmond de Rothschild Group remains in contact! Indeed the current leader - The Wave Muscat – has managed to steal a march on its closest rivals, though the top spot is still accessible.

Contrary to previous days, there was a NW’ly breeze sweeping across the race zone this Wednesday. The ambiance was very different to the SW’ly wind that has provided the décor on the Extreme 40 race zone since last Saturday, as the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group explained: “A cold front passed over the Isle of Wight at the start of the afternoon, followed by a NW’ly wind shift. The switch of direction didn’t leave the race committee many options and they were forced to send off on some reaching legs as we’re sailing in a restricted zone. From shore there seemed to be plenty to entertain the crowds, but on the water the races weren’t very interesting! We sailed back and forth with the focus on speed rather than tactics and everything was played out between the start and the first weather mark.”

In such a configuration, the slightest error has to be paid for in cash, which the men of Gitana Team can testify to this evening: “during the second race of the afternoon we committed a penalty on Pindar and were naturally sanctioned. This penalty relegated us to the back of the fleet and we weren’t able to move up the rankings from there. In the fourth race we were well positioned in the leading group but unfortunately we got caught up on a mark moored in the middle of the course, which wasn’t part of the race that was currently underway… During close races such as those run this afternoon, such errors can’t be overlooked!” said Yann Guichard.

With one day to go till the end of this English event, the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is still gunning for glory and currently lies in third position on the provisional podium. With a twenty-three point deficit on the solid leader – The Wave Muscat – and five points behind Mike Golding’s men, 2nd, anything is still possible: “A day like the one which we’ve just completed comes as a reminder that, in the Extreme series, nothing is certain until the final minute of the final race on the final day. In a uniform fleet, we can quickly lose or win points and it shouldn’t be forgotten that the last race of the competitions double points…” recalled Pierre Pennec.

With their eyes red with the salt and fatigue, the sailors of Edmond de Rothschild Group made it back to their house at MidPoint as night fell. Tomorrow the Extreme 40 fleet will be meeting off Egypt Point from 1700 hours, for the final showdown. Will Edmond de Rothschild Group be able to pull it off? Verdict tomorrow evening.

Ranking for the Grand Prix of Cowes on 4th August (after 31 races)
1. The Wave, Muscat (Paul Campbell-James) – 208 points
2. Ecover Sailing Team (Mike Golding) -  190 points
3. Edmond de Rothschild Group (Yann Guichard) -  185 points
4. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (Roman Hagara) - 169 points
5. Groupama 40 (Franck Cammas) – 168 points
6. Oman Sail Masirah (Loïck Peyron) -  166 points
7. Team GAC Pindar (Nick Moloney) -  143 points
8. The Ocean Racing Club (Mitch Booth) -  79 points
9. Veolia Environnement (Roland Jourdain) -  67 points

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