The tone is set!
The first day of racing at the Grand Prix of Cowes offered up a range of contrasts, both in terms of the weather conditions encountered and the leaders’ jockeying for position during the six races contested this Saturday. The author of two victories this afternoon, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group is in third position in the provisional ranking this evening, just a point behind the surprise 2nd placed Ecover and eight points behind the leader.

Though light airs characterised the first race this Saturday, the breeze really kicked in for this afternoon’s races. After a delay of around thirty minutes due to a change of course and the desire to make the race zone safe, the nine Extreme 40s got going at around 1530 GMT in a wind oscillating between 15 and 18 knots. Setting off from the middle of the line, Edmond de Rothschild Group didn’t manage to get clear of her rivals and suffered from her position from the outset. It was a trend that Yann Guichard and his men weren’t able to reverse despite some fine manœuvres and a good pace. They ranked 8th in this second race of the day, which was won by the Austrians on Red Bull. “This afternoon saw a change of setting in relation to this morning, as there was a lot more wind and current. The SW’ly air flow was pumping out an average of 15 knots, but it gradually picked up as the day went on. During the last race, I think we had between 22 and 23 knots in the gusts. Such conditions aren’t an ideal introduction and the first race proved a little complicated for us to handle. The main thing I want to take with me today is the fact that we very quickly learnt how to up our game” admitted the Gitana skipper.

Cut to the quick by their 8th place, the crew of the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild didn’t take long to come back. Third in the following race, Yann Guichard and his men then went on to win two of the next races. It was a great reaction which the Gitana skipper was keen to highlight on his return to shore: “It’s never a nice feeling to let a race slide but in this case it was more constructive to have a quick debrief about the errors we’d made so we could get off on the right foot again. I’m fairly confident about the next stage as we have a new crew member aboard, who we haven’t had a chance to do a lot of training with beforehand, yet we made good progress between the first and sixth race today, which is very positive.”

And so here ends what has been a long day for the men of Gitana Team and the gruelling conditions for the sailors’ bodies will mean that they’ll be ready for sleep this evening: “Today we sailed in a SW’ly wind and as it picked up, as it did this afternoon, we found ourselves in short, cross seas. The chop and the 3 to 4 knots of current we encountered in places, create an extra 4 knots of true wind. This phenomenon makes the race zone tricky and very physical for the whole crew. This is further heightened by the fact that the current increases the complexity of the manœuvres as the boats drift quite a lot. In races such as those contested this afternoon, I’d say we’re really on a razor-edge: there are a lot of boats (the Grand Prix of Cowes is taking place during Cowes Week and there are over 1,000 yachts sailing on the Solent each day), marks and current, and there was a point today when we ended up making headway with our rudders out of the water! The racing lasts for six days and as such you can’t give it your all on the first day. I think that consistency in our efforts will pay off” concluded Yann Guichard.

Tomorrow the organisers are proposing a similar day to today’s, with a coastal course in the morning and Extreme Sailing Series type races during the course of the afternoon.

Provisional ranking of the Grand Prix of Cowes on 31st July (after 6 races)
1. Oman Sail Masirah (Loïck Peyron) - 46 points
2. Ecover Sailing Team (Mike Golding) - 39 points
3. Edmond de Rothschild Group (Yann Guichard) - 38 points
4. The Wave, Muscat (Paul Campbell-James) – 37 points
5. Groupama 40 (Franck Cammas) - 30 points
6. The Ocean Racing Club (Mitch Booth) - 29 points
7. Team GAC Pindar (Nick Moloney) - 22 points
8. Red Bull Extrême Sailing (Roman Hagara) - 21 points
9. Veolia Environnement (Roland Jourdain) - 1 point

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group
Yann Guichard - Skipper, helm / Pierre Pennec – Mainsail trimmer / Thierry Fouchier – Headsail trimmer / Nicolas Heintz – Bowman

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