Following a short summer break for all the members of Gitana Team, it’s time to get back down to business. In the Extreme Sailing Series circuit, Pierre Pennec and his men are in training prior to the competition kicking off tomorrow, Thursday 30 August, with the fifth Grand Prix of the season on the waters of Cardiff. Meanwhile, Sébastien Josse and the crew of the MOD 70 Edmond de Rothschild Group are putting the finishing touches to their game plan in readiness for the European Tour, a race comprising five legs, which will combine offshore races and city races.
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild flies a hull during Act 3, Istanbul - Extreme Sailing Series 2012
The fleet of one-design trimarans will set off from Kiel (Germany) this Sunday 2nd September. Between now and then, the latest addition to the Gitana saga will have a chance to weigh up the competition, which it will vie with during the five weeks of competition. Hostilities will commence with the Kiel City Races, which involve two days of racing across the Baltic Sea prior to the lure of the open ocean and the northern latitudes.
The Edmond de Rothschild Group’s catamaran is as good as new as she readies herself for the second half of the Extreme Sailing Series championship. Indeed, following damage suffered in early July during the Porto Grand Prix, Sébastien Stéphant and Hubert Corfmat have expertly completed a fast and effective refit. Fourth in the annual provisional standing, tied on points with the team in third place, the men on Edmond de Rothschild Group will be giving it their all to make it onto the series podium and are determined not to allow the current leader to have things all their own way.
Pierre Pennec is tackling this fifth Grand Prix of the season at the head of crew, half of which has been altered since the last meet. Arnaud Psarofaghis and Romain Petit are keen to continue the adventure in Wales and the crew of the Edmond de Rothschild Group Extreme will this time be boosted by Christophe André and Romain Motteau, who will respectively take up the positions of bowman and headsail trimmer:
'It’s a temporary replacement for this act as Hervé Cunningham and Bernard Labro are compelled to race on another circuit during the competition in Cardiff. Christophe André and Romain Motteau will be filling in. The crew has had the chance to get its bearings during a few days’ training in Lorient at the end of July and though some members aren’t Extreme 40 specialists, they are all very experienced multihull sailors. This knowledge, together with the fact that this is a physical group, means that we have a good hand. Furthermore, we’ll be able to count on the expert eye of Alexandre Guyader, who will coach us as he did in Qingdao. We’re tackling this Grand Prix without any particular pressure and as a fresh challenge', admitted the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group on the eve of the first races.
Situated at the mouth of the River Taf, the Cardiff race zone will provide calm waters, but the wind could still have a few surprises in store for the crew of Gitana Team, as Pierre Pennec explained: 'Cardiff is something new for everyone and to date the only thing we know about it is that it’s an inshore race zone and fairly typical of the Extreme Sailing Series. The sea state shouldn’t be too big but at the end of August we can expect strong winds just as easily as light airs.'
After two days of training in the fleet, matters will begin to get serious tomorrow, Thursday, for the nine competing crews. Racing will kick off tomorrow at 1400 hours (local time).
Provisional standing for the Extreme Sailing Series after four Grands Prix
1. The Wave Muscat – 39 points
2. Red Bull Sailing Team – 33 points
3. Oman Air – 31 points
4. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 31 points
5. GAC Pindar - 22 points
6. Alinghi – 18 points
7. SAP Extreme Sailing Team - 18 points
8. Zoulou - 16 points
The crew of the Extreme Edmond de Rothschild Group: Pierre Pennec (Skipper / Helmsman), Arnaud Psarofaghis (trimmer and traveller), Romain Motteau (headsail trimmer), Christophe André (Bowman), Romain Petit (trimmer), Alexandre Guyader (coach)
After leaving her base in Lorient last Sunday, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild made Kiel some 48 hours later. She was the third MOD 70 to come and tie up in Baltic waters. Sébastien Josse and his five crew enjoyed perfect weather conditions – 15-20 knots of downwind sailing on flat seas – to cover the 800 nautical miles, which separate the two port cities. This express delivery, which the skipper was keen to view as a good way to set things in motion again after a month and a half’s break, rounded off with a trip along the Kiel Canal. It was a special moment for the six sailors.
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild - Krys Ocean Race 2012
Indeed this river passage spanning some 98 kilometres links the North Sea and the Baltic Sea and witnesses an abundance of cargo ships and other commercial vessels, but seldom racing yachts like the Edmond de Rothschild Group’s trimaran: 'We made it into the Kiel Canal under the cover of darkness. Its navigation is regulated and you have to be under power but this passage considerably reduced the distance to travel to Kiel. It’s not every day that we sail along rivers on a multihull so it was pretty incredible', explained Sébastien Josse on his arrival dockside.
The second event of the Multi One Championship after the Krys Ocean Race, the European Tour will take the five competing crews from Kiel to Dun Laoghaire (Dublin), then Cascais (Portugal) and Marseille (France), not to mention Genoa (Italy), where the final results will be decided on October 2nd and hence the name of the winner of this first edition. In total there are over 5,000 nautical miles to cover in five weeks! In addition to the so-called offshore races between the host cities and contested in crews of six per boat, the MOD 70s will do battle in races around the bay referred to as City Races, where the number of sailors will be fleshed out to eight. The adventure promises to be both intense and varied in terms of the weather conditions, which is sure to please Sébastien Josse and his men, who are delighted at the prospect of heading back out to sea and linking up with their adversaries again.
From tomorrow, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group will be getting in some practice on the German race zone as a dress rehearsal for the two days of competition that make up the Kiel City Races, which will be run on Friday and Saturday, 31st August and 1st September.
The crew of the MOD Edmond de Rothschild Group: Sébastien Josse (Skipper), David Boileau, Florent Chastel, Cyril Dardashti, Olivier Douillard, Christophe Espagnon, Antoine Koch, Thomas Rouxel
The European Tour in five legs:
Leg 1: Kiel – Dun Laoghaire (Dublin) / 1188 miles, start 2 September
Leg 2: Dun Laoghaire (Dublin) – Cascais / 1215 miles, start 9 September
Leg 3: Cascais – Cascais (Around Portugal Race) / 558 miles, start 17 September
Leg 4: Cascais – Marseille / 1071 miles, start 20 September
Leg 5: Marseille – Genoa / 672 miles, start 30 September
Gitana Team website