24 hours to go till the Trapani Grand Prix
For the second year running, the Extreme Sailing Series is back on Sicilian waters to contest the Trapani Grand Prix. The sixth meeting of the season, this event marks the return to a more traditional Grand Prix format since the first two days of competition will be run on open water before the fleet of ten one-design catamarans race in the marine arena formed by the port of Trapani. Experiencing testing conditions during the last Grand Prix contested in Cowes in August, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group doesnt want to retain the sour taste of its result on English waters. Pierre Pennec and his crew will obviously be keen to do well in Trapani, without putting unnecessary pressure on their shoulders. Sailing cleanly and enjoying themselves on the water are the watchwords for the men of Gitana Team who are eager to get back to competition after a months break.

The Sicilian town is preparing to play host to the Extreme 40s. Assembled and launched on Sunday and yesterday, Monday, the Extreme Sailing Series fleet will be doing some sail trials this afternoon, before really getting down to business tomorrow. If the announced weather forecast holds true, this sixth confrontation of the season is set to become ever greater. Indeed, with Sicily currently influenced by a high pressure system, the start of the Grand Prix should be marked by light to medium wind conditions (8 - 10 knots), but the setting may well change by the end of the week. Everything will depend on the trajectory and how the cold front forecast for the North of the Mediterranean develops over the weekend. Pretty renowned by now for his penchant for breezy, boisterous conditions, Pierre Pennec declared himself to be satisfied by the scenario that’s taking shape: “We’re likely to have some fine sailing conditions. There won’t be anything extreme, at least over the first few days, but the wind is still set to be strong enough to enable us to race. Aboard Edmond de Rothschild Group it’s no secret that we prefer breezy conditions, but the forecast wind will enable us to race with the whole fleet and not just in groups, which was predominantly the case in Cowes. As such I’m delighted at the idea of being able to compete in some real races with all of our rivals together.”

A few changes within the rival crews

As in Cowes, Dean Barker, the regular skipper on Emirates Team New Zealand, is once again absent from the Extreme Sailing Series match card. Indeed the sailor is currently competing in Plymouth in the races to prepare for the America’s Cup, which were unfortunately scheduled in for the same dates as those of the Extreme Sailing Series, despite the latter being announced beforehand. Adam Beashel will take over the role as helm of the New Zealand boat in the meantime. The Artemis Racing team, which is in the same situation as the New Zealanders, has taken the decision not to race in Sicily, but it will be back on the circuit for the next Grand Prix. As regards the helmsmen, the main change is the arrival of Ben Ainslie on Oman Air. The English sailor, a triple Olympic gold medallist (in Laser and in Finn) is replacing Frenchman Sydney Gavignet, who has chosen to give up his place to devote all his time to receiving the future Omani MOD (Multi One Design). Finally, Team Extreme will be led by Sebbe Godefroid on this occasion.

In Trapani, the race zone is more complicated than it seems, especially when the unpredictable reputation familiar to the Mediterranean weather forecasts kicks in. Indeed, it was a Grand Prix full of contrasts last year, with breezy conditions prevailing which gave rise to some of the most spectacular scenes from last season. For the time being, the weather forecasts are gearing up for sunny conditions brushed by a medium breeze. However, this isn’t taking into consideration the thermal breeze which could spice things up in this sixth act of the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series season by dishing out a few more knots.

Racing will begin tomorrow, Wednesday 14 September, at around 1430 hours, rounding off on Sunday evening, after five days of competition. Given the standard of the competition observed in the Solent in mid-August, this event promises to be fiercely disputed. Indeed, out of five Grands Prix, five different teams have taken leg victory, but Trapani may well play host to the first double of the season. Verdict on Sunday evening.

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group

Pierre Pennec - Skipper / Helmsman
Christophe Espagnon – Mainsail trimmer
Thierry Fouchier – Headsail trimmer
Hervé Cunningham - Bowman

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

  1. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – 38 points
  2. Artemis Racing (SWE) – 38 points
  3. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – 36 points
  4. Alinghi (SUI) – 33 points
  5. Oman Air (OMA) – 22 points
  6. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 13 points
  7. Niceforyou (ITA) – 12 points
  8. Team Extreme (EUR) – 11 points

The Extreme Edmond de Rothschild Group supports the Joves Navegants foundation

The family of Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has always had a passion for nautical activities, a commitment embodied today by the Gitana Team. As such the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations have quite naturally been sensitive to the mission of Joves Navegants and touched by the profound collective commitment to helping these young people in precarious situations.

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