Edmond de Rothschild Group back in the match
The second day of competition in the Qingdao Grand Prix took place in a very misty setting with the wind struggling to become established at a maximum of 8-13 knots. Despite the chilly temperatures which reigned throughout the afternoon, the Chinese public were out in force on the pier stretching into the Olympic port to admire the fleet of Extreme 40s for the first time. Given a rough ride during the first day of racing yesterday, Pierre Pennec and his three crew bounced back and managed to reset the balance today. They gained two places in the provisional ranking for the Grand Prix; encouraging progress that bodes well for the next stage in hostilities.

Seventh yesterday, the men of Gitana Team have managed to gain two places in the provisional ranking and are lying in fifth place, just fourteen points astern of the New Zealanders skippered by Dean Barker, who continue to lead. “It was a better day for Edmond de Rothschild Group, even though we still made a few mistakes and managed to overshoot the start line in the third race. The crew was more coordinated and that’s paid off in the evening’s ranking. We still have a way to go to get up with the frontrunners but we’re heading in the right direction”, explained Pierre Pennec after the six races run today. “Tomorrow the Grand Prix switches to ‘stadium’ mode. It won’t be easy to extricate ourselves but my crew is familiar with this type of configuration. We’ll have to remain calm.”

Team spirit remains a fundamental value in the mission to do battle at the highest level. Despite mixed results on the first day, Pierre Pennec and his men have managed to reverse the trend thanks to the cohesion between the four sailors, as Hervé Cunningham testifies: “On the third race of the day, we were early across the start line and, by the time the committee had announced that and we’d re-crossed the line as a penalty, we were in last place. We stuck together because every point is worth grabbing. As such we managed to move up three places to come eighth in that race. You always have to bear in mind that the results of a Grand Prix can come down to a single point and we mustn’t have any regrets on Sunday so we’re giving our all in every race.”

Today the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild finished four of the six races run in the top three and took victory in the 2nd race. A fine display of consistency then, which enabled the team to get the best score of the day, along with Luna Rossa, both of whom added fifty points to their ranking.

The finish of the last race of the day took place right inside the port of Qingdao as if to herald the switch from ‘long distance’ courses to the next three days of ‘stadium’ racing. The latter more specific races will call for the 40 foot catamarans to battle it out on a restricted, closed race zone. This change of playing field doesn’t appear to be unsettling Edmond de Rothschild Group however: “We’re confident about the three days of upcoming ‘stadium’ races. In Oman the second part of the competition wasn’t our forte but I think we were under pressure because we’d done well in the first two days of the long distance races. Here, we won’t have anything to lose and everything to gain” concluded the bowman.

Tomorrow the fleet of Extreme 40s will again be taking to the water at 1300 hours (Qingdao time).


The team speaks out  

Hervé Cunningham, bowman
“The first races have been a fine demonstration of the fact that victory in the Grand Prix will come down to very little as we’re all extremely close in terms of points. Yesterday we missed the train. Today we managed to hook onto the last carriage. I’d say that this evening we’re in the 2nd class carriage and tomorrow we’re going to have to continue to move up through the train till we’re in 1st class. Ultimately we want to be the driver of the train by Sunday!”

Christophe Espagnon, mainsail trimmer
The wind oscillated between 8 and 13 knots today but the SW’ly wind promised on the forecasts wasn’t right as we end up with E’ly wind so there was a 100° discrepancy. However, it’s not that surprising because the race zone is famed for its very erratic, shifting winds. I’d already had a taste of that during my previous sailing experiences here in Qingdao (ref. Christophe was among the French representatives during the Olympic Games 2008, which took place in Qingdao, so he has a sound knowledge of the Chinese race zone).Tomorrow the start of the arena racing right inside the port itself will make our task a little more tricky. There are sea walls and the race zone is very small inside the marina. If you add to the mix an erratic wind which is constantly shifting direction, inside the arena conditions will be even more varied. We’re going to have to be opportunists.”


Provisional ranking for the Qingdao Grand Prix on 14 April (after twelve races)

  1. Emirates Team New Zealand – 98 points
  2. Red Bull Extreme Sailing – 96 points
  3. Alinghi – 92 points
  4. Luna Rossa – 92 points
  5. Edmond de Rothschild Group – 84 points
  6. The Wave, Muscat – 81 points
  7. Artemis Racing – 70 points
  8. Team Extreme – 56 points
  9. Niceforyou – 54 points
  10. Oman Air – 54 points
  11. Team GAC Pindar – 18 points


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