The wind was forecast to be more generous along the coast of Andalusia this Friday. However, decidedly the wind gods are keen to thwart the forecasts and do things their way and the Extreme Sailing Series fleet ended up once again having to deal with nerve-racking light airs: “The easterly wind, synonymous with a few additional knots, wasn’t far off today. Indeed it even flirted with the race zone but was unable to establish itself there. Evidence of this was that the eleven one-designs had to get used to a swell which generally accompanies the much awaited easterly breeze during races contested outside the port stadium.”
Manhandled throughout the afternoon, the men of Gitana Team weren’t waffling on their return to the dock, as is demonstrated by Hervé Cunningham’s reaction: “It was difficult today aboard Edmond de Rothschild Group. We were pretty much in on the action outside but the minute we came into the port for the stadium races we couldn’t get into our rhythm. We found it hard to pin down what we wanted to do. Either we didn’t manage to position ourselves correctly on the line, or when we were well positioned we didn’t have the right angle to power up. Finally, when we did manage to bring the two parameters together (positioning and course) we ended up getting smothered by the OCS boats (boats which overshoot the start line). To sum it up, nothing really went our way. Some days are like that!”stated the bowman, without abandoning the good humour and positive attitude which characterises him: “Of course you have to draw lessons from a day such as this, as you can see that despite the random conditions, some of our rivals did really well. However, it’s important not to fret and think you need to go all the way back to square one. Today’s results are a reflection of one bad day that’s all!”
Philippe Mourniac, who’s been supporting the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group as their sports coach since the previous event, also gives us his on-the-spot analysis: “Generally, because of the race zones on offer, we know that the Extreme 40 races can sometimes turn into a raffle. And in the conditions we encountered today, namely a light, very shifty wind, then a swell which picked up due to the arrival of an easterly breeze, it’s even more of a lottery! In sailing, there is always an element of success to take into account and I can objectively say that the team’s quota of success was clearly lacking this Friday” conceded Philippe, before casting his mind to the next few days. “The wheel is spinning and you have to remain confident, analyse what didn’t work and then start out with a clean slate tomorrow. We know that on this circuit, you must never get carried away when you’re on a winning streak, but similarly you mustn’t think that everything is lost either. The important thing to remember is that there are two days of racing to go and that the crew is still in contact with the leaders despite today’s events. Everything will be decided on Sunday and the boys know just how to handle these highs and lows.”
The provisional ranking for the Almeria Grand Prix has seen its fair share of leaderboard changes on this third day. The English team on GAC Pindar, fifth yesterday, have moved up into pole position, whilst the Swiss team on Alinghi have jumped five places to end the day in second position. In the same way, the Omani boat, The Wave Muscat, has also made it into the Top 3. In contrast, the men of Edmond de Rothschild Group have taken a hit after an unsuccessful day, dropping down three places. However, the crew that’s suffered the biggest loss is skippered by Ben Ainslie who, despite leading yesterday, is lying in eighth position this Friday. This position waltz is not surprising though, given the similar level amongst the fleet and the particularly honed line-up after seven confrontations this year so far. In this context, Pierre Pennec and his three crew know that they’re going to have to raise their game and get back into the rhythm which was lacking today.
Rendez-vous tomorrow at 1400 hours for the start of racing, with the hope that the wind gods will finally serve up some fine sailing conditions for the eleven catamarans competing in the Almeria Grand Prix.
Standing for the Almeria Grand Prix at the end of the 3rd day