The famous four
The crews competing in today’s Extreme Sailing Series were mindful of their past experiences in a windy and rainy Kiel Grand Prix. This Thursday though, they were treated to a very different race zone in Germany. Conditions were very light, with the wind oscillating between 2 and 6 knots, leaving the racers with some fine spells of weather on this first day of the competition. Nevertheless, five races were able to be contested, one of which saw Edmond de Rothschild Group taking victory. This evening, Yann Guichard’s men are in third place on the provisional podium, behind Ecover and Oman Masirah, respectively first and second.

The catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has enjoyed a great introduction to racing in this Grand Prix of Kiel: “With the exception of the fifth and final race of the day, we got off to some good starts. As is always the case on these very short courses, the opening stage of the race is decisive. Looking back at race 5, our timing was slightly out and we were already late with five minutes till the race start. As a result we didn’t select our start position and suffered as a consequence. Today the wind was very light and it was necessary to position ourselves a little to windward of the start line so as to be able to make a last-minute decision about whether to favour the left or right hand side of the race course” explained the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group.

The crew were sailing in a new configuration today, with Thierry Fouchier replacing Nicolas Heintz but taking up the position of headsail trimmer, a post usually reserved for Hervé Cunningham. Despite this though, Yann Guichard wasn’t unhappy with the gentle introduction to proceedings for the nine competing teams: “It’s very good to begin this Grand Prix in light airs as it gives us a chance to calmly find our bearings, communicate well with each other and ensure the organisation onboard runs smoothly. This is something that just isn’t feasible in breezy conditions. However, the race zone in Kiel remains a technical one and this first day of racing has been proof of this as the wind was very shifty, both in terms of strength and direction.”

During the last Grand Prix, contested in Cowes in early August, four crews really stood out: Edmond de Rothschild Group, Ecover and the two Omani one designs. Today it’s these same four who are at the top of the provisional leaderboard once again. Things are very close between them and there will doubtless be a merciless battle for supremacy, as Yann Guichard confirms: “This evening the four boats leading the championship – including Edmond de Rothschild Group – are at the top of the ranking once more. As per usual there is little to set them apart as regards points. Victory among the top four would be impossible to call at this stage so it’s going to be really interesting. The standard on the water is really very close and the team that wins will be the one that has made the fewest errors. We’re going to have to apply ourselves to every race.”

Tomorrow racing will begin shortly after 1400 hours and, if the weather forecasts hold true, the wind is likely to pick up a notch.

Provisional ranking for the Grand Prix of Kiel on 26th August (after 5 races)
1. Ecover Sailing Team (Mike Golding) - 37 points
2. Oman Sail Masirah (Loïck Peyron) - 34 points
3. Edmond de Rothschild Group (Yann Guichard) - 32 points
4. The Wave, Muscat (Paul Campbell-James) – 27 points
5. The Ocean Racing Club (Mitch Booth) -  25 points
6. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (Roman Hagara) - 22 points
7. Audi Sailing Team Germany (Johannes Polgar ) – 20 points
8. Groupama 40 (Franck Cammas) – 16 points
9. Wirsol Team Germany (Roland Gaebler) – 12 points

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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