Edmond de Rothschild Group settles into 4th place
The Qingdao race zone is certainly not lacking contrast. Whilst the wind was pumping out over twenty knots of breeze yesterday, today it only just managed a little over five knots at best. In these light conditions, the Extreme Sailing Series’ race committee did manage to launch six races however, four of those being fleet races. For Pierre Pennec and his three crew, the results on this fourth and penultimate day of competition were mixed. Satisfied with having moved up a place in the provisional ranking, the sailors from Edmond de Rothschild Group also lamented the loss of points and hence the increased separation from the top trio. However, their deficit is not insurmountable and a podium place remains within their grasp. The Grand Prix will be decided tomorrow and it may well all come down to the final race of this Chinese event.

The eleven Extreme 40s were all on the start line of the seventeenth race of this Chinese Grand Prix this Saturday. This was great news for the public who were out in force once again to admire the spectacle thanks to the shore crews of those one-designs which were damaged during yesterday’s capsizes. The préparateurs had to work throughout the night to make it all possible. Bravo!

In order to mix things up a bit today, the organisers chose to begin the afternoon with some Match Racing duels followed by some one-on-one speed runs. The duos were formed according to the ranking at the time and the men on the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild had to do battle with the Swedish team on Artemis Racing. They managed to beat Santiago Lange and his crew on two separate occasions. In a bid to try to decipher the strategic complexity of the playing field to us, Pierre Pennec painted us a picture of Saturday’s sailing conditions on his return to the pontoons of the Olympic marina: “Today we had between 2 and 5 knots in the port of Qingdao. On a tactical level, one side of the race course was more favourable than the other, even though the situation was reversed over the course of the afternoon. Early on, the wind was stronger on the left whilst towards the end of the afternoon it favoured those boats tracking down the right hand side of the Olympic marina. In these very light conditions and with one clearly favourable side of the race zone, getting the start right was paramount as it was very difficult to make up any lost ground after that point. Naturally the problem there is that we were all looking to cross the line in the same place, but there wasn’t enough room for everyone, quite the contrary in fact. I managed to get us into the right position at the end of the line once, but that was the only time today unfortunately. Then an added difficulty cropped up during the starting procedures as the current was pushing us over the line.”

As regards the ranking, Edmond de Rothschild Group managed to snatch fourth place from Roman Hagara’s crew in the provisional ranking. At the same time however, Pierre Pennec and his men have seen the top trio, now led by Luna Rossa, steal a bit of a lead from them, as the sailor from La Rochelle explained: “it was a good move to get up to fourth place a day before the end, but a lot more could still happen tomorrow and if we look at the points tonight, Roman Hagara is very close behind with a deficit of just two points. As such nothing is set in stone and we won’t know which way the results will go before the end of the last race of this Grand Prix. The podium remains in our grasp, even though we’ve got a lot to do as the top trio has got away from us slightly. Despite all that, there are still some races left to run, not to mention the famous last race of the Grand Prix where the usual points system (ref. eleven points for the winner, ten for the second, nine for the third and so on until the last boat) are doubled, which equates to no less than twenty-two points to be awarded in the event of a victory” recalled the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group.

Tomorrow is the last day of racing in Qingdao! Strong gales are expected in the evening so the organisers of the Extreme Sailing Series have decided to bring the start of racing forward to 1100 hours. Indeed the conditions promise to be windier, which will certainly spice up what is already set to be a very tense scenario.


The crew speak out

Christophe Espagnon, mainsail trimmer
In contrast to yesterday, where the strong winds didn’t permit it, we contested all today’s races right inside the arena of the port of Qingdao. It’s clear to see that with eleven boats, with a relatively high level, it’s really hard to position yourself well on the start line every time. However the start wasn’t the only problem today as the wind was really variable in terms of intensity on the race zone and it was necessary to constantly adapt and modify your strategy. Indeed you could be correctly positioned at the start and then end up forced to pass behind the majority of the fleet 300 to 400m further down the track… With the very light wind, we tried to move as little as possible on the boat so as not disrupt the boat’s ability to make fast headway. In that respect I think we pulled off some good manoeuvres. Tomorrow the wind conditions will change again and I think the crew which manages to adapt to that the quickest will come off best.”

Hervé Cunningham, bowman
“We’re here to win races and that’s always more pleasant, but we have to keep in mind the bigger picture which is victory in the 2011 championship. This evening we’re fourth ahead of Red Bull and a podium place is still feasible with a deficit of sixteen points in relation to those in second and third place, and nineteen points behind the leader. Tomorrow we’re going to have to stay lucid and determine fairly early on, according to the results of the first races, if we’re still seeking a podium place or if it’s better to focus on holding onto our fourth place. Given the level of the competition the latter isn’t a bad place.”


Provisional ranking in the Qingdao Grand Prix on 16 April (after twenty-two races)

  1. Luna Rossa – 165 points
  2. Emirates Team New Zealand – 162 points
  3. Alinghi – 162 points
  4. Edmond de Rothschild Group – 146 points
  5. Red Bull Extreme Sailing – 144 points
  6. Artemis Racing – 114 points
  7. The Wave, Muscat – 111 points
  8. Team Extreme – 101 points
  9. Niceforyou – 94 points
  10. Oman Air – 90 points
  11. Team GAC Pindar – 37 points

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