Today the strength and direction of the weather conditions on the race zone enabled the race committee for the Extreme Sailing Series to bring the start as close as possible to the walls of the port of Trapani. As such the big Italian crowds on the race site had a front row seat to admire the spectacle. However, for the sailors, this new configuration made racing all the more difficult and a lot of the crews were called back for jumping the starts. On his return to shore, Pierre Pennec described this for us: “With the wind coming from a different direction today, the race committee gave us the chance to take some starts with the wind on the beam. This adds to the difficulty because with this angle, whatever the helmsman does (whether he luffs up or bears away) the boats move forward on the line. Given the really high level of the competitors, it was out of the question to let the others get the edge and set off in the second wave of competitors, otherwise you can’t expect to get better than sixth or seventh. As such you had to be attentive and pertinent as regards the timing, because if you set off too close to the line you end up with an individual recall for overshooting the start, while if you set off too far back you’re bound to end up being poorly placed in the ensuing race. This configuration was something new for me as a helmsman but the crew backed me up really well and the results are encouraging.”
The cohesion between the four sailors is essential for getting good results. And this is only possible thanks to repeated discussions to analyse the errors committed after each race, as well as at the end of each day. In fact this is how Pierre Pennec and his men have always operated: “This afternoon, after the third race, we went over everything as a crew because there were things which cropped up again. Everyone expressed how it felt for them and their viewpoint and that enabled us to sort ourselves out and enjoy a better second part of the day”, admitted the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group. “The atmosphere aboard the boat was very calm, even at difficult moments, like in the second race where we got off to a very bad start and ended up in last position. However the crew remained united and positive. My crew know that I’m learning and they let me get on with it without pressuring me too much.”
With a day to go until the end of the Grand Prix, it’s impossible to predict the outcome given how little separation there is between the top six boats. This evening, it’s Leigh McMillan’s men who have managed to take the lead in the provisional ranking. However, their stablemates – the second Omani one-design helmed by Ben Ainslie – are hot on their heels. The same is true of the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, which completes this trio, just nine points astern of The Wave Muscat. As such it’s an exciting scenario ahead and the nautical stadium will enjoy a very tense atmosphere in Trapani tomorrow: “We knew that the level on the water was going to rise from one event to the next and this is very clearly confirmed here. Proof of this lies in the fact that you need to take a lot more risks than in previous Grands Prix to score a place in the top three in a race. This is likely to be even more true in the last races. Indeed, though up till now everyone has been hunting for the prime spot on the line without worrying too much about what the adversaries are doing, tomorrow proceedings will be a bit more complicated. There’s going to be some marking on the cards as the teams try to put penalties on their rivals. It won’t be a surprise to see boats colliding, especially as the forecasts are currently announcing a wind of between 12 and 14 knots” announced Christophe Espagnon, the mainsail trimmer.
For the last day in Sicily, the organisers of the Extreme Sailing Series have just announced that the start of races initially scheduled for 1500 hours, have been moved forward to 1300 hours. As such the winner of Act 6 is expected to be announced at around 1600 hours.
Ranking for the Trapani Grand Prix at the end of the 4th day
1. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) - 195 points
2. Oman Air (OMA) – 190,5 points
3. Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) - 184 points
4. Alinghi (SUI) - 183 points
5. Luna Rossa (ITA) - 182 points
6. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) - 180 points
7. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) - 141,5 points
8. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 129 points
9. Niceforyou (ITA) - 109 points
10. Team Extreme (EUR) - 102 points
11. Artemis Racing (SWE) - 0 point