Edmond de Rothschild Group keeps going
As announced yesterday, the Extreme Sailing Series fleet benefited from some light conditions to contest the second day of competition in the Muscat Grand Prix. Sailing at a gentle tempo, the eight crews linked together a series of races in stadium mode. Yesterday’s leader on the completion of the so-called Open Water races, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group perfectly handled the change of exercise and has consolidated its leader status this evening.

The Extreme Sailing Series fleet has had to contend with a dying breeze throughout the course of the afternoon: flirting with ten knots as the first races kicked off, the wind gods struggled to serve up three knots during the day’s final race. However, the race committee for the Extreme Sailing Series really got the most out of the conditions, running eight races in total. The skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group described the zephyr-like conditions on his return to the dock: “Flat seas, no current and fairly stable wind in terms of direction but slightly fluky in terms of strength. However this air flow petered out over the course of the afternoon. There were some small gusts, which swept in from the left hand side of the race zone, then from the right on the following tack. All in all though, given the strength of the wind and the sea state, the race zone remained perfectly legible today.”

Winners of two of the eight races contested and consistently at the top of the leaderboard, with the exception of one race, Pierre Pennec and his crew are leading as they go into the second half of the Grand Prix, confirming that they’re match fit in the process: “We’ve made really good progress with our speed upwind and downwind, particularly in the light airs. The very good communication established with Hervé (Hervé Cunningham is in charge of the headsail trimming, Ed’s note) and a few new adjustments are the keys to this gain in speed”, said the delighted Gitana skipper, before giving us the lowdown on how his new team is operating: “The crew is already working very well together despite its ‘youth’, but we’ve still made great progress. All in all we had some good starts but nothing special. However, we’re not taking risks when we start out, which is enabling us to always be in the right group. We need to work on the start phases. We need to make progress with them and I particularly need to improve the position and the angle of the boat, so as not to get foolishly trapped by certain competitors, who are match racing and tend to forget the rest of the fleet. It’s been a positive afternoon for Gitana Team, even though we stuffed up the last race.” Indeed the only ‘blip’ on this Wednesday’s sailing programme, if we can call it that, was the result of the eighth and final race of the day. This seventh place is explained by Pierre Pennec: “In the final race, we messed up our downwind leg and got ourselves into a tricky situation which culminated in a collision with The Wave Muscat. The umpires awarded us the blame and we copped a penalty which, in a course of this type, with light winds to boot, cost us very dearly and gave us 7th place in this race. Kinou and I have a slight communication issue. In the stadium races, Kinou covers the tactical aspect very well as his wealth of information and his vision of the race zone are a real asset for the crew. However, in the contact phases, I have to call the shots as regards our trajectory. We were hesitant, which is inexcusable. We simply need to adjust the way we operate, which is something that will come naturally with a bit of practice.”

The light airs, which punctuated the majority of the afternoon’s racing, are renowned for really setting the sailors’ nerves on edge. However, Pierre Pennec and the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group really handled the pressure well, as the results achieved by the French one-design testify. As such Pierre Pennec and his crew have further consolidated the lead they gleaned at the end of the first day of competition. Just a point shy of them though are the men on Oman Air, helmed by Morgan Larson, who continue to make a great impression. A newcomer to the circuit, the skipper of the Omani catamaran once again demonstrated great ease on the water, despite his ‘rookie’ status. However, this performance comes as no surprise to Hervé Cunningham: “Morgan Larson is an excellent American sailor, who’s had a number of America’s Cup campaigns and has also done a lot of RC44 sailing, which is a circuit where I rub shoulders with him. In fact he’s world champion in it. Morgan is a newcomer to this circuit so he’s just discovering the craft, but to do that he’s relying on an experienced crew who are very familiar with the Extreme Sailing Series format. To see him so well placed comes as no surprise to me at all, particularly as the weather conditions we encounter here are perfect for a gentle warm-up. We’ll have to see how he fares in the feistier Grands Prix.”

Tomorrow, for the third day of competition in the Muscat Grand Prix, a big crowd is expected in The Wave Muscat marina. Indeed, in Oman, the weekend starts this evening, and will conclude at the end of Friday, just like the first act of the Extreme Sailing Series. The start of tomorrow’s racing is scheduled for 1400 hours (1000 UTC).

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group

Pierre Pennec (Skipper / helm),

Jean-Christophe Mourniac (mainsail trimmer and traveller),

Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer),

Bernard Labro (Bowman)

Adeline Chatenet

Standing for the Muscat Grand Prix after the second day (eight races run)
  1. 1. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 85 points
  2. Oman Air - 84 points
  3. The Wave Muscat – 72 points
  4. Red Bull Sailing Team – 65 points
  5. GAC Pindar - 62 points
  6. Zoulou – 51 points
  7. Alinghi - 50 points
  8. Team Trifork – 35 points
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