Rio, a Grand Prix on a razor’s edge
Leaders at the end of the penultimate day of competition in Rio, the men of Gitana Team knew it would be a tough ask when up against crews, who were determined not to let them secure their second Grand Prix victory in a row. Pierre Pennec and his men entered the fray on a high by winning the first of the day’s races. However, things became more complicated for the Extreme Edmond de Rothschild Group over the course of the afternoon: “We got off to a very good start on this final day, by winning the first race, but the conditions soon changed with the arrival of the rain and the wind became really screwy. We’re weren’t able to adapt very quickly to this new tone and we didn’t have luck on our side in the very random breeze. As such we lost a lot of points to our rivals,” Pierre Pennec recounted.
Prior to the thirtieth and final race of the Grand Prix, the situation was critical: the French catamaran was third, two points shy of first placed The Wave, and a point shy of Red Bull. Morgan Larson and his men were on the hunt. Though Roman Hagara won the Grand Prix and Oman Air finished on the podium, Edmond de Rothschild Group was able to finish fourth in the event, but also fourth of the season. “Aboard the boat, we were keen to round things off nicely and above all not finish at the foot of the podium. We really didn’t give any of our rivals an inch, despite getting off to a poor start and we were opportunistic. This race ended with a very fine team victory!” concluded the skipper.
Ultimately, The Wave Muscat finished the final race of the day in second position and won the Rio Grand Prix with a 0.2 point lead over Edmond de Rothschild Group; a maddening deficit for the French team, but one which reflects the beauty of the sport, as bowman Bernard Labro admits: “Though there’s a little disappointment this evening, as there was nothing between us and Grand Prix victory as well as second place in the championship, Rio was a great final Grand Prix where we really had fun on the water.”
Gitana Team, third in the Extreme Sailing Series 2012
Prior to the Brazilian meet, Leigh McMillan’s crew benefited from a comfortable lead in the annual standing. The Omanis had to secure a place in the top five in Rio to be guaranteed the 2012 title. Second with one race to go, The Wave Muscat became successor to Luna Rossa before the starting gun even fired. For the podium and fourth place, there was still nothing to separate Edmond de Rothschild Group, Oman Air and Red Bull. Despite a dazzling victory to conclude the Grand Prix, the men of Gitana Team quickly understood that Oman Air’s third place in this race meant that they would take third place overall for this past season: “This third place obviously leaves us with a slightly bitter taste as we were here to win, but it’s still a good position. This season, The Wave Muscat has been untouchable, imperial, a notch above the rest. Hearty congratulations to them! For Oman Air it’s a different story and I think we handed them the second step of the podium… This 2012 season has been marked by some changes within the crew and by two poor Grands Prix for us. Porto is certainly the hardest to digest, as we finished fifth with damage and a crew member in hospital. However, despite all that, it’s very good to be on the Extreme Sailing Series podium for the fourth consecutive year,” recalled Hervé Cunningham.
No 2013 circuit for Edmond de Rothschild Group
After four fine years competing in the Extreme Sailing Series, which has provided Edmond de Rothschild Group with some fabulous victories, the Gitana Team has announced that it won’t be participating in the circuit’s next season. For the stable founded by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild it’s a decision, which illustrates the team’s desire to refocus on offshore racing.
“We’ve enjoyed four good years in the Extreme Sailing Series, both in sporting and human terms. The team has always been able to secure a podium position and has given us some unique moments, bringing the whole of Edmond de Rothschild Group with it in its wake. The history of the Gitana Team over the past few years, will remain marked by this event, but today it has been decided that it will refocus on ocean racing through the 70’ trimaran Edmond de Rothschild Group, skippered by Sébastien Josse, and Gitana 11. The programmes for these two boats for the 2013 season will soon be made official. Our absence from next year’s Extreme Sailing Series doesn’t mean that we won’t return to the circuit at a later date. The whole team sets great store by the event. I’d really like to thank and congratulate Mark Turner and his OCSport teams for all their hard work, their professionalism and the calibre of the different stages of this World Tour. Finally, I join with Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild in thanking the crew, led by Pierre Pennec, and pass on our heartfelt congratulations to them. The boys have really shown us their talent, their commitment and also their tenacity in the tough times, which is particularly important for us,” explained the general manager of Gitana Team, Cyril Dardashti.
"I'd like to thank Gitana Team for the commitment they made over 4 years with the Extreme Sailing Series, four years that have seen the event grow from strength to strength. They have been consistently at the front in sporting terms every year, and have successfully used the event as a business tool all over the world to entertain clients. We look forward to maybe seeing them again in the future. We have 8 strong teams lined up for 2013, 6 existing and 2 new entries, but of course we will miss the French boys in blue!" admitted Mark Turner, executive president of OC Sport.
The 2012 season for Edmond de Rothschild Group in figures:
The 2012 circuit kicked off in the Sultanate of Oman, on 28 February. Since that time the Extreme Sailing Series fleet has visited no fewer than 6 other countries. This year, 209 races were contested, 41 of which were won by Pierre Pennec and his crew.
The results for Edmond de Rothschild Group, Grand Prix per Grand Prix
Muscat GP (Oman): 3rd / Qingdao GP (China): 3rd/ Istanbul GP (Turkey): 2nd/ Porto GP (Portugal): 5th (damage on the last day) / Cardiff GP (Wales): 6th/ Nice GP (France): 1st / Rio GP (Brazil): 2nd
Standing for the Rio Grand Prix (after 30 races)
1. The Wave Muscat - 192.20 points
2. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 192 points
3. Oman Air - 181 points
4. Red Bull Sailing Team - 179 points
5. SAP Sailing Team – 166 points
6. Alinghi - 152 points
7. GAC Pindar - 129.6 points
8. Zoulou - 119 points
9. Team Brasil – 92 points
Standing for the Extreme Sailing Series 2012
1. The Wave Muscat – 76.5 points
2. Oman Air – 65 points
3. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 64.5 points
4. Red Bull Sailing Team – 59 points
5. GAC Pindar - 45,5 points
6. SAP Sailing Team – 42 points
7. Alinghi – 35,5 points
8. Zoulou – 28 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)