War of nerves in Boston
Decidedly ruthless, the Boston race zone today decided to play on the nerves of the eleven competing crews. Extremely shifty in the first races, the wind conditions did improve over the course of the afternoon, enabling the sailors to contest some more consistent races. In the top three five times in a row out of a total of seven races run this Friday in Boston: the men of Edmond de Rothschild Group regained the consistency which was lacking in their performance yesterday. Though they’re still in fourth place in the provisional ranking, Pierre Pennec and his three crew have closed on the top trio and proven, if there were a need, that they’re very much in contention for victory in the American event of the 2011 circuit.

Incisive and thus consistent in their results, the men from Gitana Team made it back to the quays of Fan Pier with more of a spring in their step than the previous day: “It’s been a good day. We’ve made progress with the way things worked on the boat, especially in terms of communication, as well as in the analysis of the race zone. This progress could be felt in the start phases, which were better today and we managed to make up points on our direct adversaries, with the exception of Emirates Team New Zealand, who enjoyed the best day of the fleet. This evening, we’re in the same position as yesterday in the provisional ranking, but in terms of the points which separate us from the podium, we’re already doing better” admitted Pierre Pennec.
Fourth after the seven races contested this Friday, Edmond de Rothschild Group is now just five points shy of its closest rival, whilst it is thirteen points ahead of its pursuers on Luna Rossa, compared with just two yesterday. For its part, Terry Hutchinson’s crew is holding onto the lead in the Boston Grand Prix, but with three days left to go, they can feel their adversaries breathing down their necks.

Edmond de Rothschild Group’s crew finished this second day of the competition with a slightly over-zealous indiscretion: lying in second behind Team Extreme during the final race of the day, Pierre Pennec and his men glimpsed the possibility of a victory down the home straight. They risked all but copped a penalty for hitting one of the marks that defines the finish line. This disappointment cost them precious points, but it just goes to show how much the four sailors want to win: “The slightly timid way we operated yesterday was replaced with a more aggressive attitude. We got off to some good starts today, which had a favourable effect on the rest of the race. We committed errors in the first and last race of the day, but all in all it was a positive day as these failings are easy to correct. We’ve got our bearings and we’re ready to do battle!” said a smiling Christophe Espagnon.

The long weekend, which will conclude on Monday with the American national holiday, begins this evening. As such big crowds are expected on the quays of Fan Pier over the next three days to admire the Extreme Sailing Series fleet in action. Sticking to its familiar routine, the race committee will launch the first race of the third day of competition shortly after 1400 hours (local time).

The team speaks out

Christophe Espagnon, mainsail trimmer: “The first two races were run in the forecast wind conditions, namely light and very shifty airs which, like yesterday, led to great upset in the rankings during the races. It was a bit of a lottery. Fortunately though, a thermal breeze kicked in over the course of the afternoon, which enabled us to sail in slightly more wind. In the zone where we were racing, there aren’t really any offshore zones as we’re surrounded by buildings or sea walls. However, the wind was a lot more open coming from the sea. The mistakes we made today were due to a lack of concentration or rather too much focus on what our adversaries were doing and on getting the boat making headway. During the first race, we kind of forgot a bit about the playing field set by the race committee. Such an error earns an immediate penalty, which ultimately led us to finish outside the time in the first race.”

Thierry Fouchier, headsail trimmer: “As soon as there’s more wind, as proved to be the case during the second part of the afternoon, we’re more at ease and our good speed enables us to get away from the bulk of the fleet more easily. However, the race zone still remains hard to read as the winds change a great deal in terms of direction and intensity. In such conditions, it is really important to stay calm aboard the boat and to very quickly move onto the next race if the desired result isn’t achieved on the previous race. That’s what we did on Edmond de Rothschild Group as, despite finishing outside the time on the first race, we quickly refocused and racked up five races in the top 3.”

Ranking for the Boston Grand Prix on Friday 1 July (after 14 races)
1. Artemis Racing (SWE)  –  114 points
2. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – 107 points
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) – 106 points
4. Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) –  101 points
5. Luna Rossa (ITA) – 88 points
6. Alinghi  (SUI) –  78 points
7. Niceforyou (ITA) – 76 points
8. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – 70 points
9. Oman Air (OMA) – 69 points
10. Team Extreme (EUR) – 57 points
11. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 44 points

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