Setting out this morning to conquer what was still an accessible podium place, Edmond de Rothschild Group saw its hopes go up in smoke during the start of the fourth race after another collision. With the starboard bow impacted and the bowsprit damaged, Pierre Pennec and his three crew bowed out of this Grand Prix without being able to defend their chances. This evening, there was great disappointment within the Gitana Team as the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group explains: “Today, it’s the work of the whole team, as much on shore as my crew on the water, which has been destroyed by a decision which was made in the space of a few seconds. My choice of course following our start on port tack in the fourth race of the day had a very serious consequence. This morning, we were still battling for a podium place and a chance to snatch back the head of the annual standing, and this evening the disappointment is tangible. We’re going to have to analyse the mistakes made here so we can set out with a sound base in mid-September as the season isn’t over yet.”
It’s at the end of six days of competition, and not seven as initially planned, that the Cowes Grand Prix has delivered its verdict. Indeed, given the overly boisterous weather conditions on Wednesday, the race committee had to resort to cancelling the races for the first time since the creation of the circuit. The Wave Muscat takes victory in Act five of the Extreme Sailing Series 2011, whilst Luna Rossa and Alinghi respectively complete the top three spots. Forced to leave the race zone and as such incapable of defending its chances, Edmond de Rothschild Group ranks eighth. This position is all the more frustrating given that the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group had earlier demonstrated how at ease they were in the breezy conditions which coloured this Cowes Week: “Despite our setbacks, there are some positives at the end of this Grand Prix. We’ve done some very good things here. Overall our starts were better than during previous Grands Prix and we won a lot of races (ten in total), even though the fleet racing distorts the scenario somewhat. I have a really good crew. My crew are extremely competent, physical and technically minded. We had all the cards to win this Grand Prix, but in the Extreme Sailing Series nothing is set in stone and this Cowes Week serves as a reminder of that if there were such a need”, concluded Pierre Pennec.
In the annual standing for the Extreme Sailing Series, the Kiwis from Emirates Team New Zealand hang onto the lead in the championship, one point ahead of Max Sirena’s crew. The catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has however managed to hold onto the third step of this provisional podium place, despite the difficult week that Pierre Pennec, Thierry Fouchier, Hervé Cunningham and Christophe Espagnon have just endured.
There are four Grands Prix left to race to round of the 2011 season. The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group will be keen to erase the memory of this result on English waters and just knuckle down so that they can regain their previous form. Trapani, to the West of Sicily, is the next venue for further confrontations from 14 to 18 September.
A recap of the collision with Artemis Racing
After an impressive introduction to play, Pierre Pennec and his crew had won three of the four races run on the first day and were logically leading the way in the 5th act, Edmond de Rothschild Group was stopped violently in its tracks following a collision with Santiago Lange’s crew during the first regatta of day 2. The two catamarans, both seriously damaged, had to return to port and were lifted out of the water for repairs. However, the story didn’t end there and the affair was carried through to a later conference. On the morning following the incident, the Extreme Sailing Series jury returned its verdict following protests lodged by both protagonists. Artemis Racing was deemed responsible as it tacked too slowly which led to an unavoidable collision for Pierre Pennec’s men. The remarkable work done by the shore crew, made up of Marie Dixneuf and Cyril Ducrot, who weren’t sparing in their efforts to enable the crew of Gitana Extreme to get back to the competition as quickly as possible, was one of the real high points of this Grand Prix. In one night, Marie and Cyril fabricated a new bow for Edmond de Rothschild Group… Such a repair in so little time was quite simply incredible. As such Pierre Pennec’s men were able to get back down to business for the third day of racing with a boat ready to race and a redress of 19.4 points awarded to them by the jury. However, that very evening, Artemis Racing rejected the decision and put in a request for the case to be reopened. Accompanied by several of Edmond de Rothschild Group’s direct rivals, who came to testify against the men from Gitana Team, Santiago Lange managed to cancel the initial judgement so that both boats were considered be at fault. Respectful of the jury and its decisions, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group renounced the opportunity to make a counter appeal, opting instead to do battle on the water rather than on shore.
Ranking for the Cowes Grand Prix after six days of competition
- The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – 236 points
- Luna Rossa (ITA) – 228,8 points
- Alinghi (SUI) – 214 points
- Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – 188 points
- Oman Air (OMA) - 179 points
- Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 160 points
- Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) – 139 points
- Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) – 135 points
- Niceforyou (ITA) - 132 points
- Aberdeen Asset Management (UK) - 126 points
- Team Extreme (EUR) - 71 points
- Artemis Racing (SWE) - 23 points
Ranking for the Extreme Sailing Series 2011 after five Grands Prix
- Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) – 44 points
- Luna Rossa (ITA) – 43 points
- Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) – 40 points
- The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – 38 points
- Artemis Racing (SWE) – 38 points
- Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – 36 points
- Alinghi (SUI) – 33 points
- Oman Air (OMA) – 22 points
- Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 13 points
- Niceforyou (ITA) – 12 points
- Team Extreme (EUR) – 11 points