Brushing up the gambit
A heavy heat and spells of sunshine coloured this first day of racing at the Boston Grand Prix. In some very shifty wind, which was particularly unstable both in terms of strength (between two and fifteen knots) and direction, the Extreme Sailing Series fleet competed in seven very hotly disputed races. At the end of the opening day of this competition, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group, whose performance alternated between good and not so good, is in fourth place in the provisional ranking. Pierre Pennec and his men are lying in ambush behind a top trio made up respectively of Artemis Racing, The Wave Muscat and Red Bull Exteme Sailing.

Pierre Pennec, skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group, led us to believe this morning that the race zone in Boston would make life difficult for them. He confirmed this sentiment at the end of the afternoon on his return to the dock: “The race zone proved to be true to form with several pitfalls and it was hard to read. We sailed today in wind coming from the land and hence from the city. As such, as the air flow hits the race zone it is cut up by the presence of numerous buildings dotted about the port of Boston. It’s a warm, dry wind which is very shifty. There are constant oscillations and getting the boat to make headway in these conditions is rather technical. The start remains a very important phase of the race, because a good position in the opening gambit very often enables you to hook onto the right gust, but here it isn’t everything. Today we saw and unfortunately experienced races where the cards were totally reshuffled. This was the case on the last race of the day for example, where we got off to a really good start and were in second position for a large part of the race and then ended up bringing up the rear…”

The starts of the Grands Prix aren’t the greatest speciality of the men from Gitana Team. This effectively means that the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group very often put in a tentative bid to get into the thick of the action initially, but up till now such starts haven’t proven to be detrimental to the final result, quite the contrary in fact. Indeed the foursome has racked up three podium places out of three events, including one victory… This evening, they all agreed that they’ve lacked pertinence in certain situations, as Pierre Pennec explained: “We’re going to have a good debriefing, as we had a few shortcomings in terms of communication aboard today. We lacked fluidity in our exchanges. However, everything happens so quickly and there is a lot of information bandying about and, given the shiftiness of the wind, this is easily explained and perhaps easily corrected.” This analysis was backed up by the bowman, Hervé Cunningham, who had predicted a very full-on Grand Prix: “After a good shower, we’re going to talk things through to erase the errors committed during today’s seven races. The Grand Prix has only just begun and in view of this first day of the competition, we’re going to need nerves of steel as the die certainly hasn’t been cast yet. However, that’s exactly what makes it enthralling.”

Tomorrow, same place, same time: the Extreme Sailing Series fleet will meet tomorrow at 1400 hours local time (1900 hours GMT) on the Fan Pier race zone for another day of racing. If the weather forecasts hold true, light airs are set to mark this second day of the competition in Boston.

The team speaks out

Hervé Cunningham, bowman: “Today was fairly representative of the Extreme Sailing Series in a capricious wind which never lacked surprises. It was necessary to find the right timing to move around the boat and prepare the upcoming manœuvres, without disturbing the boat’s ability to make headway in the light patches dotted about the race zone. We had some good and some not so good races. We were lucky and unlucky, but that was the same for everyone today, except for Artemis and The Wave who were a notch above everyone. Leigh McMillan has taken the helm of the Omani boat in Boston and he confirmed the potential we knew he had (Ed. it is worth recalling here that he helmed Ecover to third place on the 2010 circuit).”

Christophe Espagnon, mainsail trimmer: “The Boston race zone is fairly unique. With the wind coming from the land, the city and its skyscrapers disrupt the flow of air, which gives us very shifty winds and above all zones without wind which move about very quickly from one end of the race zone to the other. And it’s not always easy to be on the right side of the playing field. Today’s results are correct even though, to my mind, we lacked consistency. Naturally such a deficit stands out in a fleet which is so similar. It’s up to us to correct that tomorrow.”

Provisional ranking in the Boston Grand Prix on 30 June (after 7 races)
1. Artemis Racing – 60 points
2. The Wave, Muscat – 59 points
3. Red Bull Extreme Sailing – 54 points
4. Edmond de Rothschild Group – 46 points
5. Luna Rossa – 44 points
6. Emirates Team New Zealand – 43 points
7. Niceforyou – 41 points
8. Oman Air – 35 points
9. Alinghi  – 28 points
10. Team GAC Pindar – 26 points
11. Team Extreme – 25 points

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