Start imminent in the Boston Grand Prix
The fourth act of the Extreme Sailing Series 2011 begins in Boston this afternoon. The city on America’s East coast, synonymous with success for the Gitana Team since it hosted the victorious arrival of Gitana Eighty in The Transat 2008, is now playing host to the 40 foot circuit for the very first time. The eleven competing crews – which include Team Extreme’s return to the race zone after the violent collision she and Alinghi were involved in during the Istanbul stage – will have five days to settle the scores on American shores. With three Grands Prix contested to date and as many winners, the competition promises to be tighter than ever.

Still at the top of the leaderboard in the overall ranking after three events, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group is nevertheless witnessing their pursuers edging ever closer. Runners-up in the Istanbul Grand Prix, Dean Barker’s men are also on the second step of the season’s provisional podium. With a one point deficit in relation to the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, they are very serious adversaries, as is Artemis Racing, heading the bill in Turkey, which completes the top three. However, Pierre Pennec’s men are ready to take up the pressure that is on their shoulders: “The team feels like they are in good shape and our last Grand Prix in Istanbul was very encouraging as we scored our third podium in a row. A second victory, after that in Oman, was clearly within our grasp but, as is always the case in the Extreme Sailing Series, there was very little to separate the teams ultimately. Despite all that, our 3rd place and the consistent performance we put up augur well for this event. We arrived in Boston a few days before the start of racing to really get into the rhythm and be at 100% from the opening races.”

As the race rules in the Extreme Sailing Series stipulate, the crews competing in the 2011 circuit aren’t allowed to sail the Extreme 40s between the different events. Such a rule is in keeping with the architectural one-design of the 40 foot catamarans and thus guarantees an excellent competitive equity. In this way, the men on Edmond de Rothschild Group, like their adversaries, will get straight down to action without an observation round: “Although we haven’t yet been able to sail on the race zone, we have had the chance to get a look at it and begin to get an idea of the playing field that awaits us. The race zone appears to be less cramped than in Istanbul for example, but the courses proposed here will be just as short. The virtually permanent contact phases we encountered in Turkey should also be a theme in the five days of competition in Boston. As regards the weather, several configurations can be envisaged here. If the wind comes from the land and hence the city, as the forecasts appear to indicate to date, we’ll have to get used to some very shifty winds with considerable acceleration due to the numerous obstacles on the site. This will inevitably spice things up during the races. However, with an ESE’ly wind, namely a breeze coming from the sea, it’ll be a completely different scenario with a lot steadier wind,” explains Pierre Pennec before leaving the pontoons of Fan Pier.

In this Boston Grand Prix, the fleet of Extreme 40s are once again set to put on a top class programme, where intensity and suspense will unquestionably be the key words. To hold onto their leadership in the annual ranking, Pierre Pennec and his three crew are very much aware that they’ll have to continue their very fine progress and earn a place at the top of the ranking after the five days of competition in America. To achieve this, the men from Gitana Team will once more have to take the right amount of risk and be daringly opportunistic.

Kick-off for the event will take place today, shortly after 1400 hours local time, which equates to 1900 hours GMT.

Ranking for the Extreme Sailing Series 2011 after three Grands Prix
1. Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) –  29 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) – 28 points
3. Artemis Racing (SWE)  –  27 points
4. Luna Rossa (ITA) – 25 points
5. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – 23 points
6. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – 18 points
7. Alinghi  (SUI) –  18 points
8. Oman Air (OMA) – 11 points
9. Team Extreme (EUR) – 8 points
10. Niceforyou (ITA) – 6 points
11. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 5 points

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