After Act 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series, it is now three podiums in a row for the Edmond de Rothschild Group! After four days of lively, windy competition on the Marmara Sea, the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has secured second place in the event.
Great work by Pierre Pennec and his crew, who have shot up from fourth to second place in the annual standing for the Extreme Sailing Series. Though victory in Act 3 went to The Wave Muscat, the men on Gitana Team demonstrated solid potential and real confidence, which they intend to turn to their benefit in a few weeks’ time during the Porto Grand Prix.
Pierre Pennec and his four crew gave everything they had to add a win to their list of podium places in 2012. Prior to the twenty-ninth and final race of the Istanbul Grand Prix, which scores double points, the men on Gitana Team were still in with a chance of snatching the top spot. At that stage, they were just nine points shy of The Wave Muscat, but also under threat from Red Bull, with whom they were tied on points.
It was a tricky mission, but not impossible. To secure a win, Edmond de Rothschild Group had to ensure there were five boats between them and the Omani one-design. The French team didn’t falter on the start line and were at the front of the fleet out of the starting blocks, whilst Roman Hagara overshot the line and had to watch the fleet make good their escape as he paid the penalty for his early start. Back on the racetrack, the duel was on though. Putting in some solid tacks and managing to contain their main adversary, Pierre Pennec, Christophe Espagnon, Hervé Cunningham, Bernard Labro and Romain Petit carried the race.
However, just a few seconds later, McMillan crossed the finish line and went on to take outright victory in the Grand Prix: 'First place just escaped our clutches but it’s a very positive result for us on every level after four days of competition and for me that’s the important thing at this stage of the event. First of all, we’re consistent because in three events we’ve made the podium three times. Furthermore, compared with the previous two Grands Prix we’ve progressed by moving up a place and finishing second. That’s nothing to be sniffed at as the line-up boasts some top-level performers. A move up the ranking isn’t the only area where we’ve progressed so that’s very encouraging,' explains Pierre Pennec.
'The most positive point for us is the way the crew pulled together and the atmosphere on board. We’ve really enjoyed ourselves over the past four days. Gitana Team is a great team, both on land and on the water! In this Grand Prix, my approach to the racing has been more confident and I think that is translated by our results. In Oman and in China, I didn’t manage to make a stand for myself at the starts and that put us in the position of chasers rather than attackers. In Istanbul we managed to reverse the trend by getting off to some good starts and by increasing our success rate over the course of the event. We had to call ourselves into question, but the communication aboard the boat, combined with a better vision of what was happening on the line for my part, paid off. It’s hugely satisfying to have made progress with this phase of the game, which is such a crucial element. We need to build on that during the next meetings and the event in Porto is fast approaching.'
In the annual standing for the Extreme Sailing Series, this Istanbul Grand Prix has made things clearer at the top of the leaderboard. Indeed, at the end of the race contested in Qingdao back in April, Oman Air, Red Bull Sailing Team and Edmond de Rothschild Group were tied on points but were ranked in that order according to the best performances per event. The French team’s second place in the Marmara Sea means that the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is now in second position overall, whilst the Austrian one-design completes the podium. Meantime, The Wave Muscat has confirmed her position at the head of the fleet by securing a second consecutive win. Leigh McMillan’s team are leading the way in this championship and now have a few points on their pursuers.
However, the men on Gitana Team have shown that they’re still a force to be reckoned with and are determined not to rest on their laurels: 'In the overall standing, The Wave has extended their lead again but the season is far from over and we need to keep up the pressure all the way to Brazil in December. We’re certainly up for the challenge!' said an assured Pierre Pennec, before heading off to the closing ceremony.
In Porto, the crew will welcome a new member to the crew. Indeed, Christophe Espagnon, who joined the team’s ranks for the Istanbul Grand Prix, will be alongside Sébastien Josse for the next event and will be focused on the stable’s first transatlantic race aboard their 70-feet trimaran: 'I’m happy to have been able to participate in an Extreme Grand Prix this year. It’s a craft on which you learn a great deal and it’s always a lot of fun. We may be lacking a place in this evening’s standing to be entirely satisfied with our performance, but we still managed to sail well and we’ve secured a fine second place. We also ended the day with a victory, which is always very important for the crew’s confidence, and most importantly we gained in strength over the past two days of racing. I’d like to wish Pierre and his crew the best of luck for the rest of the season and I’ll certainly be glued to their upcoming races,' admitted the sailor, based on Ile de Ré offshore of La Rochelle.
To replace Christophe Espagnon as mainsail trimmer, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group has turned to a Swiss sailor: 'We’ve chosen to bring in Arnaud Psarofaghis. He’s an excellent Swiss sailor, whom I sailed with last year in the AC45 series during the event in San Diego. He’s also a real talent on the D35 circuit, where he’s excelling with his crew. I have absolutely no concerns about his ability to adapt to this format and we’ll be there to give him all the help he needs. We’ve really got the manoeuvres sussed now and we’ll make the most of our two days of training prior to the Grand Prix to quickly get our bearings as a team.'
The Extreme Sailing Series fleet will have just three weeks’ break before they head for the waters of the Douro to contest the fourth act of the 2012 sailing season. Set a date with Pierre Pennec and Edmond de Rothschild Group in Portugal from 5 to 8 July 2012.
Standing in the Istanbul Grand Prix (29 races run)
1. The Wave Muscat – 174 points
2. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 169 points
3. Red Bull Sailing Team - 159 points
4.Oman Air - 146 points
5. SAP Extreme Sailing Team - 131 points
6. GAC Pindar - 113 points
7. Alinghi - 99 points
8. Zoulou - 86 points
Provisional standing for the Extreme Sailing Series after three Grands Prix
1. The Wave Muscat – 29 points
2. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 25 points
3. Red Bull Sailing Team – 24 points
4. Oman Air – 23 points
5. GAC Pindar - 18 points
6. Zoulou - 13 points
7. SAP Extreme Sailing Team - 13 points
8. Alinghi – 11 points
Extreme Sailing Series website
by Translated by Kate Jennings
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8:01 PM Sun 10 Jun 2012GMT
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