Advantage, Edmond de Rothschild Group
The leaders’ combat has begun in the South of Spain. For the first day of competition in the Grand Prix of Almeria, the fleet of Extreme 40s has competed in seven races, two of which were launched outside the Spanish port. After winning two races and displaying great consistency and opportunism throughout, Yann Guichard and his men have the upper hand this evening and are heading the provisional leaderboard.

The South isn’t what it was and the weather proved to be very indecisive this Saturday in Almeria. Indeed the sun and the gentle breeze at the start of the afternoon gave way, in the space of three hours, to overcast skies and a reinvigorated wind of in excess of 15 knots. The upshot of this was some mild sailing conditions, but there was enough breeze for the contact racing in the nautical stadium proposed by the organisers of the Extreme Sailing Series.

It was rather a familiar atmosphere in Spain then as, like last year, it was here in Almeria that the 2010 championship was decided. And as expected, the battle between the four pretenders to victory didn’t take long to heat up. Today all of the top four had a taste of the joys of victory and both Edmond de Rothschild Group and The Wave even had a double helping. On his return to shore Yann Guichard looked back at this successful introduction to proceedings: “I admit that I often have some difficulty getting into the swing of things at the start of a Grand Prix, but this first day has been a good one for my crew. More than today’s ranking, which is obviously good as we’re leading the fleet this evening, I’m really satisfied with the cohesion the crew were capable of. We were once again experimenting with a different configuration and everything onboard was clear despite that. I really enjoy sailing with Pierre, Thierry and Yves and that’s another of the secrets to our success.” Aware that the crew had made their presence felt by getting the upper hand today, the skipper of the Gitana Team remained clear and no less prudent: “We mustn’t get carried away, there’s still everything to play for! The level is really uniform and our most serious rivals have shown that they’re a force to be reckoned with. Added to that, it’s important not to lose track of what happened recently in Trapani. We started the Grand Prix there in the same way and ended up in 4th place… It’s worth remembering that we’ve still got three days of racing ahead of us, and we’ll have to take each race as it comes without losing sight of our goal.”

“We’ve performed well today but tomorrow promises to be difficult with conditions set to be both full-on and lively” warns Pierre Pennec, the mainsail trimmer aboard, whilst putting the boat to sleep after a full day of racing. Indeed the eight competing crews are likely to face a breezy day on Sunday. The deterioration in the weather conditions observed late this Saturday afternoon heralds the arrival of a front associated with a low pressure system. The latter should pass over the Andalusian city tonight with some strong wind forecast at the back of this disturbed system. “We know that some of our rivals take risks in the breeze so we mustn’t miss out on the day’s action” concluded Yann Guichard before returning to the hotel with the first drops of rain.

Provisional ranking for the Grand Prix of Almeria at the end of the first day (after seven races)
1. Edmond de Rothschild (Yann Guichard) - 45 points
2. Ecover Sailing Team (Mike Golding) - 41 points
3. The Wave, Muscat (Paul Campbell-James) - 38 points
4. Oman Sail Masirah (Loïck Peyron) - 38 points
5. Groupama 40 (Franck Cammas) - 28 points
6. Rumbo Almeria (Mitch Booth) - 23 points
7. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (Roman Hagara) - 21 points
8. Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) - 18 points

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group in Almeria
Yann Guichard - Skipper, helmsman / Pierre Pennec – Mainsail trimmer / Thierry Fouchier – Headsail trimmer / Yves Detrey - Bowman

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