Change of scene and leader in Trapani
The setting for this third day of competition was picture perfect today. A generous sunshine and temperatures in the upper 20°C, the whole lot coloured by the backdrop provided by the Egades Islands just a few miles from Trapani. However, as the Extreme Sailing Series crews arent in Sicily as tourists, the most important information of the day remains the fine 15 knots of breeze throughout the course of the afternoon. Indeed conditions were similar to those encountered yesterday by Edmond de Rothschild Group and their adversaries, but they proved to be somewhat tougher on the narrower race zone formed by the port of Trapani. In the standing, theres been a change of leadership today, but the battle remains very close so this weekends racing is set to be promising.

“There was a bit more wind towards the start of the afternoon rather than at the end, but overall we had some very fine sailing conditions today, with a well-established breeze of around 15 knots. Even though the results weren’t always tip-top for Edmond de Rothschild Group, we had a great day of racing, where we really enjoyed being on the water” explained Pierre Pennec, though he did have a slight reservation. Indeed, despite the optimum conditions described by the skipper of Gitana Extreme, the race committee was only able to run six races this Friday: “It’s a bit frustrating to have such fine conditions on the water and not be able to sail for nearly forty-five minutes out of three hours of racing, due to having to respect the shipping. However, we know that that’s part and parcel of the constraints with inshore races.” Clearly racing in the nautical stadium has unquestionable appeal when it comes to getting up close and personal with the public. However, on the flipside of this proximity is the fact that today the Extreme Sailing Series fleet had to share its playing field with the ferries and cargo ships which liven up proceedings in the Sicilian port.

In the so-called ‘stadium’ races, a good start is the key to success as Pierre Pennec confirmed once again: “Today part of the line was more favourable than the other, at the committee boat end. However, it was a difficult position to make your own as a lot of us had our sights set on it. We did manage to get to it but more so in the second half of the afternoon. We made progress throughout the six races as regards the position to choose for the starts as well as the timing we needed to power the boat up in the start phases. On paper, today’s results don’t necessarily appear positive and yet they are. On a personal level I learnt from it by confronting situations we haven’t yet had to deal with. That’s how you make progress and that’s the aim here.” This is a sentiment shared by Christophe Espagnon, who gave us his impressions of the day’s action on his return to the dock: “In terms of manœuvres, things are going really well and I don’t think we had a lot of wastage on that score. At the starts, we tried different things with varying degrees of success, but we were making progress in the last three races. We’re still lacking a bit of consistency and we’re going to have to improve on that. Aboard the boat we’re extremely motivated and the atmosphere and communication are excellent, which is also one of the keys to success in yacht races” concluded the mainsail trimmer on Edmond de Rothschild Group.

This third day of competition in Trapani has reshuffled the cards in relation to the hierarchy established yesterday. Indeed the Swiss team of Alinghi has lost pole position having given up the top step of the provisional podium to the Omani catamaran, The Wave Muscat. Third prior to the six races contested this Friday, Leigh McMillan’s men had a consistent day, winning four races. Luna Rossa has dropped a place to complete the top trio, whilst Ben Ainslie’s team has pipped Edmond de Rothschild Group to the post to take fourth place by just half a point. As such, Pierre Pennec and his men are lying in fifth position in the Grand Prix this evening with two days of racing to go and the deficits in points are more an indication of the state of play than a true ranking. Indeed, the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has actually moved closer to the second and third spots than they were yesterday.

Tomorrow the forecasts are indicating a lighter wind of between 8 and 10 knots. Conditions are set to be less boisterous then, but they will still be enough, given the size of the race zone, for the fleet to put on a show for the Sicilian public. Furthermore, this wind strength will mean that the crews in the Extreme Sailing Series will be able participate in fleet racing from 1500 hours.

Ranking for the Trapani Grand Prix after the 3rd day
1. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) - 142 points
2. Alinghi (SUI) - 136 points
3. Luna Rossa (ITA) - 129 points
4. Oman Air (OMA) - 124,5 points
5. Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) - 124 points
6. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) - 119 points
7. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) - 100,5 points
8. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) - 84 points
9. Niceforyou (ITA) - 78 points
10. Team Extreme (EUR) - 64 points
11. Artemis Racing (SWE) - 0 point

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