Amsterdam marks the penultimate round
After Venice, Hyères, Cowes then Kiel, it’s the turn of Amsterdam to play host to the Extreme 40’ circuit. Racing in this penultimate event of the 2009 will take place from 25th to 27th September, right in the heart of the Dutch capital. Though the setting is an impressive one, the battle on the water is likely to measure up. Indeed, with two grands prix to go till the end of the championship, and with a tightly bunched top trio, the competition promises to be both exciting and tense. For Yann Guichard and his three crew, currently second in the provisional general ranking, their slogan is clear: “we’re entering the home straight, so we have to give it our all!”

Like the inaugural event, which we recall took place in the famous Italian city of Venice, the fifth and penultimate confrontation of the season will take place this weekend – from 25th to 27th September – in another aqueous city, that of Amsterdam. The Dutch capital, particularly renowned for its countless canals, will play host to three days of racing to the rhythm of the Extreme 40s for what will be the third consecutive year. Indeed it’s amidst the city’s buildings that the nine competing one designs will do battle. Yann Guichard gives his view of this very specific playing field: “I don’t know the race zone personally but on paper it’s a narrow area which may completely change the face of the rankings. We’re going to sail right in the heart of the city and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a boat win one race and bring up the rear in the next” warned the skipper of Gitana Extreme - LCF Rothschild Group.  

In this configuration and with two rounds to go to the end of the season, the crew’s opportunism and ability to constantly adapt to the vagaries of the race zone will be indispensible assets. By winning the racing in Venice, the men of Gitana Team gave a fantastic demonstration of their prowess in light conditions. Such an aptitude augurs well given the weather forecasts for this weekend in Holland: “It’s still a bit far off to say but overall we’re likely to have light conditions (light wind). Last year, racing took place in the same kind of conditions. Here though we have to observe a general system and take into account the race zone environment (buildings, trees…), which will inevitably cast a new light on matters.”

The verdict from the 2009 championship is approaching and the very slight separation between today’s top three crews on the provisional iShares Cup podium suggests that we’re in for some fierce battling. With its three successive victories, the Oman Sail Masirah crew are logically in the top spot with 37 points, but behind them, for Gitana Extreme – LCF Rothschild Group and Oman Sail Renaissance, who are tied on second with 33 points, first place is still within grasp. An ideal scenario then for both fans of suspense and fervently competitive sailors galvanised by adrenalin.

As such the last two events of the season shouldn’t lack spice with their atypical race zones and the associated weather conditions, which may well prove to be a killjoy for certain crews.

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 four events)
1/ Oman Sail Masirah – 37 points (4th, 1st, 1st, 1st)
2/ Gitana Extreme- LCF Rothschild Group – 33 points (1st, 4th, 2nd, 4th)
3/Oman Sail Renaissance – 33 points (3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd)
4/ Groupama 40 – 25 points (5th, 5th, 6th, 3rd)
5/ BT – 17 points (6th, 6th, 4th, 8th)
6/ BMW Oracle – 18 points (2nd, 2nd, DNC, DNC, DNC)
7/ iShares – 17 points (9th, 7th, 5th, 6th)
8/ Luna – 16 points (7th, 9th, 7th, 5th)
9/ Holmatro – 13 points (8th, 8th, 8th, 7th)
10/ Ecover – 6 points (10th, 10th, 9th, 10th)

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