An action-packed day
Once again storms rolled in today to upset the programme drawn up by the race committee for the Extreme Sailing Series. However, the patience of the organisers was rewarded since five races were able to be contested in the stadium setting in Singapore, despite a capricious and particularly fluky wind both in terms of strength and direction. After a rather mediocre performance during the first two days of the competition, the men on the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild have managed to reverse the trend, regaining a real feel for the racing and their potential. At the end of this third day, Edmond de Rothschild Group is lying in fourth place in the overall standing, eight points shy of Luna Rossa, its rival for the 2011 title. There are two days of racing left and the weekend promises to be one of high tension.

Fearsome on the nerves, the Extreme Sailing Series races have the ability to constantly shake up the mix and keep both the crews and spectators with baited breath. In this way, during the fifth and final race of the day, we were able to witness an incredible watershed moment as Pierre Pennec and his three crew gained the edge: “With the judges calling the decisions directly on the water, the potential penalties which ensue are our pet hate because, on such a small course, they’re often synonymous with a very bad place in the race. That’s exactly what happened to Luna Rossa in this race. We were in contact with them, vying for the top spots along with Oman Air. However, at the final mark, the way the priorities panned out wasn’t in their favour and they ended up hitting the mark and copping a penalty. They ranked behind us and we were second. That enabled us not only to regain some very precious points, but also gave us a confidence boost.”

Though this third day of competition ends on a happy note for the men of Gitana Team, the same wasn’t true during the first races of the afternoon. However, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group, still as united as ever, had the strength to rally together again: “We didn’t get off to a very good start today, though it felt as if we’d sailed well. Indeed we got off to some decent starts but we were on the wrong side of the race zone. It came down to failing to anticipate the wind, even though, given the very shifty conditions, it’s extremely difficult to continually have a good grasp of the situation. Despite all that the crew managed to stay focused, and we managed to stick together by talking to each other more aboard the boat, whether it be about the wind, manœuvres, trimming or even the starts…” explained Pierre Pennec. “At the end of the first two races, I preferred to take more conservative starts as the risk was really too high at that stage to get across the line in a favourable position, with lots of crews jockeying for position and naturally only enough space for just one or two boats. However, we were really on the attack in terms of speed and had a good handle on the tactics and this method proved worthwhile. It’s very good to round off the day on a positive note. It’s good for the troop’s spirits! However, we still have some work on our hands and we’re going to have to raise our game to beat Luna Rossa and win this championship.”

Lamenting a twenty-point deficit in relation to the Italian one-design over the course of the afternoon, Edmond de Rothschild Group was just eight points astern by this evening in Singapore. This effectively means that they made up twelve points in just two races! These figures testify that there’s everything to play for and above all that the 2011 title remains very much within the grasp of Pierre Pennec, Christophe Espagnon, Thierry Fouchier and Hervé Cunningham.

Tomorrow, the races will be run in two stages. Indeed, in order to overcome the storm phenomena which tend to disrupt the wind on the race zone in the afternoon, the organisers have opted to start the races at 1000 hours and then run a second session after lunch. Obviously the thinking behind this is to offer the ten competing crews some more sporty sailing conditions thanks to the more established morning breeze.

Ranking for the Singapore Grand Prix after the third day

  1. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – 96 points
  2. Luna Rossa (ITA) – 93 points
  3. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) – 91 points
  4. Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) – 85 points
  5. Oman Air (OMA) – 80 points
  6. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – 78 points
  7. Alinghi (SUI) – 75 points
  8. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 68 points
  9. Team Extreme - the first club™(EUR) – 52 points
  10. Team Tilt (SUI) – 52 points

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group

Pierre Pennec (Skipper / helmsman), Christophe Espagnon (mainsail trimmer), Thierry Fouchier (headsail trimmer), Hervé Cunningham (Bowman).

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