Act 6 of the Extreme Sailing Series lands on the Côte d’Azur
A month and half on from the Welsh Grand Prix, the Extreme 40s are getting back down to business. Indeed, tomorrow the seventh and penultimate meeting of the season opens its doors. This time it’ll virtually be on home waters for the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group during the next four days of racing. The only French leg of the Extreme Sailing Series 2012, Nice is playing host to the one-design catamaran circuit for the second year running. Victorious on the waters of the Côte d’Azur just a year ago, after an incredibly intense grand prix, Pierre Pennec and his men are naturally keen to pull off a repeat performance and close on the top of the leaderboard once again.

With 24 hours to go till the start of act 6 of the Extreme Sailing Series, the weather conditions are pretty summery in Nice’s famous Baie des Anges. However, the forecast shows a change is on the cards and the trend over the coming days indicates a grand prix dominated by breezy conditions, as the skipper of the catamaran Edmond de Rothschild Group explained this afternoon: “We were training with our rivals yesterday afternoon. We enjoyed a sunny atmosphere and a light thermal breeze so conditions were perfect for getting back to work. Today, it was decided that we would sail early in the morning to benefit from a slightly steadier breeze. Our training conditions aren’t likely to resemble those expected over the course of the Grand Prix but the crew made the most of their time on the water, getting a feel for the boat and honing their reflex actions. It was important as Hervé and Bernard (Cunningham and Labro), were absent during the last Grand Prix, which equates to a three-month break from the Extreme 40 for them. Over the coming days, or Thursday, Friday and Saturday at least, we should benefit from an E’ly breeze of between 17 and 20 knots. That’s why we set up the boat with this in mind this morning. On Sunday, the light airs could return but we’re in the Mediterranean and the forecasts can quickly change.”

Decidedly the Med is always full of contrast! Last year, there was very little breeze for the vast majority of the afternoon races, which forced the race committee to shift the usual programme around by running some very early morning races to benefit from the end of the nocturnal thermals: “This possibility has been alluded to this year and may well come into play on Sunday if conditions in the afternoon aren’t breezy enough to ensure some fair races in sporting terms,” explained Pierre Pennec. “The crew is pretty happy with such forecasts. Breezy conditions primarily translate as more spectacular sailing for the public and it’s also more interesting and fun for those of us on the water. As ever, we’ll be sailing as close to the shore as we can so it’s possible that we may have a little less wind than forecast on the files. However, with the announced E’ly breeze, the wind will be virtually parallel to the race zone. That will give us a fairly shifty breeze, which can only spice up the action in the nautical arena.”

With the cancellation of the Trapani Grand Prix (Sicily) midway through September, the organisers of the Extreme Sailing Series have had to slightly revise the point scoring for the last two events of the season. In this way, the meets in Nice and Rio de Janeiro will be all the more important as they will enable the teams to rack up additional points (a coefficient of 1.5 instead of 1 for the remaining grands prix) for the annual championship standing. The skipper of the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild certainly had these numbers on their minds on the eve of the competition: “After the results of the last two Grands Prix we’re not where we wanted to be at the start of the season. We have two events to go before we round off the year and they will now be worth more points. We have to nail it if we’re going to make up our deficit and the crew is motivated to do just that. The Wave has a good lead, but a lot can happen between now and the end of the competition.”

Tomorrow, Thursday, for the first day of competition, the eight competing crews will be ready for the off on Nice’s race zone from 1245 UTC. The three hours of racing on the schedule promise to be lively if the weather forecasts bear out. The latest reports indicate an E’ly breeze of around fifteen knots, gusting from 25 to 28 knots so it’s going to be a bracing return to the battlefield!

Provisional standing for the Extreme Sailing Series after five Grands Prix
  1. The Wave Muscat – 48 points
  2. Red Bull Sailing Team – 41 points
  3. Oman Air – 41 points
  4. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 36 points
  5. GAC Pindar - 29 points
  6. SAP Extreme Sailing Team - 24 points
  7. Alinghi – 22 points
  8. Zoulou - 19 points

The crew of the Extreme Edmond de Rothschild Group

Pierre Pennec (Skipper / Helmsman),

Arnaud Psarofaghis (trimmer and traveller),

Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer),

Bernard Labro (bowman)

Romain Petit (trimmer),

The Extreme Edmond de Rothschild Group supports the Joves Navegants foundation

The family of Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has always had a passion for nautical activities, a commitment embodied today by the Gitana Team. As such the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations have quite naturally been sensitive to the mission of Joves Navegants and touched by the profound collective commitment to helping these young people in precarious situations.

Inspired by the methods of British Sailing associations, which help young people in difficulty, some enthusiastic sailors who have settled in Palma, Mallorca, decided to create Joves Navegants. Aware of the complicated situation for certain youngsters on the island in serious economic and family difficulties, they have chosen to share their passion. The foundation organises several types of trips out to sea on the yacht, Galaxie. These days out involve journeys of discovery, awareness campaigns for sustainable development, participation in races and training aids to enable certain youngsters to envisage sailing as a professional career.

The Edmond de Rothschild Foundation will be supporting Joves Navegants in the organisation of trips out to sea during the summer, enabling the necessary technical improvements to be made on the Galaxie and making it possible for a team to take part in the “Ruta de la Sal” race in April.

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