Edmond de Rothschild Group given a rough ride during the first day
The first races in the Grand Prix of China were contested near the exit from the Olympic port in Qingdao. A light breeze of eight knots, increasing very slowly over the course of the afternoon and glorious sunshine, despite a persistent veil of mist over the large buildings lining the shore, formed the backdrop for this opening day. Optimum conditions for sailing Extreme 40s then and the race committee for the Extreme Sailing Series made the most of this to launch six races. Winners of the Grand Prix in Oman, contested at the end of February, Pierre Pennec and his men had some difficulty getting into the swing of things today.

“We had mixed results today… We really missed our chance in two of the races. In the first we got off to a poor start because one of our adversaries got in our way and I didn’t manage to get clear of them correctly. Then in the other races, with the exception of the last one where we came second, I made a few mistakes related to judgement and positioning at the start and that cost us dearly on the racetrack. You really have to avoid doing that and that’s why it’s better to accept that you’re going to lose a few places and a few points as a result and then move on,” explained the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group on their return to the Olympic port of Qingdao.

The men of Gitana Team already knew it: the level of the fleet of Extreme 40s is very similar and on the Chinese race zone, the slightest error results in an immediate penalty, as was perfectly illustrated in today’s fifth race. The author of a very good start, the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild was leading the way at the windward mark but copped a penalty for reasons Pierre Pennec explains to us:With this wind strength we were powering across the race zone and you can’t get away with penalties in the ranking. In the 5th race, during the first beat, we were to leeward but quicker than our direct rival, Artemis. It was only once we’d got past them that we were able to see Alinghi, but it was too late. There was a port-starboard issue at the mark and we picked up a penalty. All of sudden we plummeted from the head of the fleet to last position…”

Edmond de Rothschild Group concluded this first day on a positive note however as they came second in the last race. In the provisional ranking, the pressure’s on with the leaderboard displaying very little difference between the top six boats. Leading the way this evening, the New Zealanders helmed by Dean Baker have just a seven point lead over the sixth boat. Just behind, Pierre Pennec and his crew have a deficit of fifteen points in relation to the leader. However, there are still four days of racing left and a number of races to go so there’s everything to play for.

Tomorrow racing will start at 1300 hours, Qingdao time, namely seven hours earlier in the UK, just as the sun is coming up across the land.


The team speaks out

Hervé Cunningham, bowman
“I’d say that we were using our slick tyres for rallying today, which naturally doesn’t work. The results aren’t very good at the end of the first day. You’re used to better from us but, on a positive note, we know where we went wrong. This evening we’re going to have a good debriefing about the day so we can set off on the right foot tomorrow. It hasn’t been a catastrophic day, far from it, but we were a bit too aggressive and not conservative enough. We have to take risks sometimes but we also have to know how to avoid getting carried away and make sure we don’t lose sight of our goal: to win the 2011 championship. The aim is to be consistent over the year and not get too greedy. If we make it onto the podium here, it’ll be a good result, so now it’s up to us not to spoil the potential we have.”


Thierry Fouchier, headsail trimmer
“We committed some stupid errors today; errors we didn’t make in the Oman Grand Prix. We got hit with two penalties out of the six races run and that’s too many if you want to stand a chance of ranking highly. We’re going to have to find our form again and erase our weaknesses to get back into the match. However, only six races were contested today, which doesn’t amount to much on the scale of a Grand Prix. The level is going up as predicted and you can really see that with a crew like Emirates Team Zealand, who learn quickly and are leading this evening.”


Provisional ranking for the Qingdao Grand Prix on 13 April (after six races)

  1. Emirates Team New Zealand – 49 points
  2. Artemis Racing – 47 points
  3. Red Bull Extreme Sailing – 47 points
  4. The Wave, Muscat – 47 points
  5. Alinghi – 44 points
  6. Luna Rossa – 42 points
  7. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 34 points
  8. Niceforyou – 28 points
  9. Team Extreme – 24 points
  10. Oman Air – 24 points
  11. Team GAC Pindar – 10 points



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