The battle is very much on as the fleet bunch together in China
After two days of competition, Edmond de Rothschild Group is fourth in the provisional standing, just as it was yesterday. However, the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild scored some precious points this Wednesday. Winners of two out of the eight races run, Pierre Pennec and his men have closed on their main rivals, with the exception of Oman Air, which is just one point ahead of the French boat this evening. At the midway point in the event, the men of Gitana Team are weighing up the work they still have to achieve given how similar the boats are in terms of performance and the little separation between them, though they’re also savouring the positive results of this second day of racing in the China Grand Prix.

Stronger than forecast, the wind which blew across the Chinese city this Wednesday provided the nine competing teams with a long day of sailing.It was a full-on day!” exclaimed Jean-Christophe Mourniac, the crew’s mainsail trimmer, before going on to explain the weather conditions they encountered on the Chinese race zone today: “The south-easterly wind oscillated between 12 and 15 knots with a few stronger gusts rolling through at times. These conditions aren’t extreme but given the size of the course (small), it takes an awful lot of work to trim properly and ensure the boat is fully powered up for Pierre. Added to that is the geography of the race zone, as the buildings and harbour walls create wind shadows and spice up proceedings somewhat.”

The author of two race wins, but also two premature starts, Pierre Pennec’s crew alternated between a good and a not so good performance this Wednesday in Qingdao, as Jean-Christophe Mourniac confirms:The overall results are positive, even though there are quite a few minor things we can improve on, especially with the starts. In the first three races, we found it hard to get our timing right and were twice penalised for OCS (crossing the start line before the gun sounded). Yesterday, we were too far back on the line, and today we doubtless pushed Pierre too far in these phases. However, we managed to get our heads around that and were more incisive in the second half of the afternoon. In this way we pulled off two race wins after two very good starts. We still have a way to go with our performance in this area but the dynamics are there.”

Fully in agreement with this analysis, Pierre Pennec was once again keen to salute the collective work accomplished by his men aboard Edmond de Rothschild Group: “Our crew is still young in terms of the way it operates. Despite that, my crew are performing really well in the manœuvres, especially the gybes, where we’re more at ease than our rivals in the breezy conditions. Technically we’re beginning to adopt the right reflex actions, which gives me the chance to get my head out of the boat and pay closer attention to the race zone and the strategy which needs to be implemented. It’s thanks to this fluidity in the manœuvres that we’re able to catch up with the leading pack despite fluffing some of the starts. I’m really lucky to be heading such a crew.”

In the provisional standing this evening, the separation between the top seven boats (out of just nine on the racetrack!) is still making it impossible to pick out a clear pattern. Though Roman Hagara’s crew has been topping the leaderboard for the second day running, the top spot is far from certain given the number of races still left to contend. For Edmond de Rothschild Group, fourth like yesterday, there’s a status quo on the results board. However, in accounting terms, today’s eight races have favoured Pierre Pennec and his crew. Indeed they’ve managed to make up ground on the majority of their direct rivals. Solely Oman Air is putting up a fight: fifth yesterday, Morgan Larson has snatched the third place on the podium by just one point, to the detriment of GAC Pindar, who have now tumbled to fifth position. “It’s not the time to linger over the points. You have to take each day as it comes and above all last the distance until the final day”, concluded Jean-Christophe Mourniac. Of course it doesn’t need pointing out that the Extreme Sailing Series is never short of suspense, and the top trio are usually only decided in the closing minutes of the Grand Prix.

Tomorrow, assuming the weather forecasts pan out as they should, the Extreme Sailing Series fleet is likely to race in some lighter winds. For confirmation of this, we’ll have to wait until the start of the first of the day’s stadium races, which kick-off at 1300 hours local time*.

* In the summertime, when it’s 1300 hours in Qingdao, it is 0500 UTC.

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group

Pierre Pennec (Skipper / helmsman),

Jean-Christophe Mourniac (trimmer and mainsail traveller),

Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer),

Bernard Labro (Bowman)

Romain Petit (5th man)

Alexandre Guyader (Sports coach)

Standing for the Qingdao Grand Prix after the second day (fourteen races run)
  1. Red Bull Sailing Team - 90 points
  2. The WaveMuscat- 83 points
  3. OmanAir - 79 points
  4. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 78 points
  5. GAC Pindar - 75 points
  6. Zoulou - 72 points
  7. Alinghi - 68 points
  8. SAP Extreme Sailing Team - 50 points
  9. ChinaTeam - 34 points

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