For the third confrontation of the 2009 Extreme 40 season, the organisers have opted for some prestigious surroundings as the backdrop. For three days the nine competing crews – following BMW Oracle’s withdrawal (see below) – will race across the waters of the Solent, which is the stretch of sea separating the Isle of Wight from the British mainland. This year, the races will be disputed just a stone’s throw from the legendary Royal Yacht Squadron. As such it is a unique race zone, which is ideally situated to enable spectators crowded around the Cowes esplanade to feel right in the thick of the action during racing. This sensation will be further heightened by the fact that this English stage is being held during “Cowes Week”, the oldest sailing regatta in the world. Considered here and elsewhere as an institution, Cowes Week gathers together over a thousand yachts, so both spectacle and extravaganza are guaranteed.
“The dream team” together again!
Winners of the opening event held in Venice in mid May, and fourth in the French stage of the circuit at the start of July, Yann Guichard and his three crew have begun their on-the-water reconnaissance this Tuesday 28th July. The Cowes Grand Prix marks the return of Hervé Cunningham to the Gitana Team. Temporarily and brilliantly replaced by Simeon Tienpont during racing in France’s Var region, Hervé has regained his position as trimmer alongside Christophe Lassègue. In short, the crew which stood out in the Venetian lagoon is back and will doubtless try to put in a repeat performance of its first place in Italy.
The absent few for the 3rd meeting
A few days ago the BMW Oracle one-design, helmed by James Spithill, announced their withdrawal from the Cowes Grand Prix. The men from the American challenge have been retained on the other side of the Atlantic for the fine tuning of the trimaran upon which they’ll be competing in the 33rd America’s Cup in six months’ time. Their absence is lamented by the skipper of Gitana Extreme – LCF Rothschild Group: “It is regrettable that an adversary of the calibre of Oracle has withdrawn. The higher the level, the more sizeable the competition and the more exciting the races… We hope that James Spithill and his men will quickly return to the iShares Cup” said Yann Guichard, who had just arrived on the Isle of Wight, before casting his mind to the upcoming races: “Despite all that, the battle promises to be interesting as the race zone proposed for this season’s third meeting will be hard going for us again. We’re going to have to deal with the currents and specifics of the Solent, so it’ll be a whole new ball game. My crew and I are keen to hit the start line on Saturday afternoon.”
Finally, as was the case in Venice, and if the weather conditions pan out in the North Atlantic, the helm of Groupama 40 will be entrusted to Gildas Philippe. The reasons for this are that the title skipper of the Extreme 40’ announced this morning that his maxi-trimaran has switched to code green, which means that their departure is imminent in their attempt to improve on their Transatlantic Record crossing. It’s a prestigious reference time which Yann Guichard is one of the rare few to have earned the title of on two separate occasions; first off as one of the crew to Bruno Peyron in 2005 then with Franck Cammas in 2006.
The kick-off for this 3rd event will take place early afternoon on Saturday 1st August and racing will draw to a close on Monday.
Crew of Gitana Extreme - LCF Rothschild Group
Yann Guichard (skipper-helm)
Pierre Pennec (mainsail traveller trimmer, tactics), Christophe Lassegue (headsail trimmer, control of manœuvres) and Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer, control of manœuvres)
Provisional Championship Ranking (after two events)
1/ BMW Oracle – 18 points (2nd, 2nd)
2/ Oman Sail Masirah – 17 points (4th, 1st)
2/ Gitana Extreme- LCF Rothschild Group – 17 points (1st, 4th)
4/Oman Sail Renaissance – 16 points (3rd, 3rd)
5/ Groupama 40 – 12 points (5th, 5th)
6/ BT – 10 points (6th, 6th)
7/ iShares – 6 points (9th, 7th)
8/ Luna – 6 points (7th, 9th)
9/ Holmatro – 6 points (8th, 8th)
10/ Ecover – 2 points (10th, 10th)