On the attack down the home straight
The waters of the Solent certainly don’t lack contrast. After the first three days of competition contested in a boisterous wind, which forced the race committee to split the Extreme Sailing Series into two, this fourth day of the Cowes Grand Prix was coloured by a light breeze, which all too seldom rose above 10 knots. In these summery conditions, the eleven catamarans still competing were able to sail five races, which saw The Wave Muscat take the lead in the provisional ranking. Pierre Pennec and his three crew, who alternated between good and not such good races, have held onto second position and are fired up to tackle the three remaining days.

It’s a quieter race zone which welcomed the Extreme Sailing Series fleet this Tuesday. Indeed it was as if the wind gods had chosen to give the crews a bit of respite before kicking back in with a vengeance. Whatever the case, it was a total change of scene today and the rooster tails left in the wake of the hulls on previous days left the way clear for catamarans labouring to make headway. However, despite what you might think, the light airs didn’t necessarily make the sailors’ job any easier: “Conditions were a lot lighter today. The wind was blowing at between 8 and 10 knots compared with around twenty knots on previous days. Despite all that though, the race zone was very tactical and the crews had to deal with the current. The left-hand side of the race course was more favourable on the whole and, as such, everyone was trying to set off from there. That made the starts tricky. However, we did manage to position ourselves there in certain races and notably the one we won and again on the last race of the day where we earned ourselves a second place. The gusts were also pretty random and hard to read”, explained Thierry Fouchier, the headsail trimmer aboard the boat, before giving us his assessment of what proved to be a day of mixed results: “Today, we sailed some good and not so good races, but we’ve already managed to identify our mistakes during the debriefs aboard the boat between the races and we’ll be working to erase them tomorrow. The first two races of the day were duels and they took place in rather light conditions. We won one race and lost one, so they cancelled each other out in terms of points. In the light airs, we can’t seem to get enough separation when we set off with the bulk of the fleet. We’re less able to predict how things are going to play out and we’re less at ease than we are in breezy conditions, where the crew is particularly comfortable.” This sentiment augurs well for the next stage in proceedings then as the wind will be back in the Isle of Wight tomorrow and through until Friday, the final day of the Cowes Grand Prix.

After four days of competition, three boats seem to have a slight edge in terms of the top of the provisional ranking. Putting in a very consistent performance throughout the afternoon, Leigh McMillan’s men have taken pole position tonight to the detriment of Luna Rossa, which is now in third place. Meantime the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group has managed to hold onto second position and has a deficit of just four points in relation to The Wave Muscat. Suffice to say that there’s everything to play for, as Thierry Fouchier highlights: “Our second place midway through the event is very satisfying as it means that we’ve done the necessary to raise our game. This evening the separation between the top three is really minimal and so much the better because that’s what we came here for! We’re going to have to apply ourselves over the last three days and not let anything slip because we know all too well that in the Extreme Sailing Series the final places can come down to a matter of just one point."

Tomorrow, racing begins at 1500 hours, just like on previous days, but the race zone could well be modified slightly in order to adapt to the race schedule for the other fleets currently competing in Cowes Week.


Ranking for the Cowes Grand Prix after the 4th day (23 races)

  1. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – 118 points
  2. Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) – 114.4 points
  3. Luna Rossa (ITA) – 114 points
  4. Alinghi (SUI) – 99 points
  5. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 89 points
  6. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – 86 points
  7. Oman Air (OMA) - 83 points
  8. Niceforyou (ITA) - 66 points
  9. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) – 58 points
  10. Aberdeen Asset Management (UK) - 58 points
  11. Team Extreme (EUR) - 48 points
  12. Artemis Racing (SWE) - 21 points 


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