Regained confidence aboard Edmond de Rothschild Group
The Trapani Grand Prix drew to a close this Sunday after five days of competition which enjoyed a degree of intensity never before seen in the Extreme Sailing Series. Right up till the final race, four crews were still in contention for outright victory. Sixth in the provisional ranking after the first day of racing, Pierre Pennec and his three crew - Christophe Espagnon, Hervé Cunningham and Thierry Fouchier continued to up their game from one race to the next to round off the sixth act of 2011 with second place. Thanks to this performance, the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has moved up a place in the overall standing and is currently lying in second just a point shy of the leader. As such the men from Gitana Team have regained all the confidence theyll be needing for the last three meetings of the season.

Eighth at the Cowes Grand Prix, contested a month earlier in the waters of the Solent, the men from Edmond de Rothschild Group were keen to get back in contention in this Sicilian stage and show their rivals that, though they’d taken a knock, they were far from out of the running. By earning themselves a second place in the Trapani Grand Prix, after an incredible, ruthless battle, Pierre Pennec and his three crew really pulled this off: “After our disappointments in Cowes, our result here is the best possible response we could give. We called ourselves into question, focused and managed to adopt our usual sailing method by applying ourselves. Out of the thirty-four races we contested in Trapani, we only copped one penalty. That means that we were always in a position to avoid the risky situations which cost us so dearly in Cowes” explained Thierry Fouchier. For Pierre Pennec, who helms the catamaran and directs the crew, the English “trauma” was even more personal: “We’ve come a long way since the Cowes Grand Prix. That’s especially true of my own mindset because our counter performance there was something I found very hard to digest. It was a bit of a battle with myself to make a comeback here and put the disappointment and bitterness to one side. The emotion I feel this evening with this second place is on a par with the tension we’ve experienced on the water over the past five days. Battling against sailors like Ben Ainslie, Dean Barker and Terry Hutchinson is a fantastic opportunity and when you manage to get ahead of them it’s even better. I cannot thank Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild and the Gitana Team’s managers enough for having given me this opportunity and shown such trust in me.”

In 2010, the Trapani Grand Prix was particularly rainy and windy, but this year, the Sicilian city provided us with a perfect race zone and sailing conditions. With the exception of Saturday, which was marked by light airs of between five and eight knots, the wind always kicked up above twelve knots. Similarly, the sun and high temperatures coloured the whole of the Grand Prix for the Extreme Sailing Series fleet: “We’ve been extremely spoilt by the weather conditions because, with the exception of one day, we always had perfect sailing conditions. I’ve really enjoyed racing here.” However, the weather isn’t everything and Pierre Pennec also wanted to give credit to the cohesion of his crew: “My crew are very strong and they’ve done an incredible job once again. The atmosphere aboard has been excellent and always calm, and the group has come out of this leg even more united.”

At the end of the Trapani Grand Prix, the head of the overall ranking has changed. Indeed, fourth here on home waters, Max Sirena’s men have moved up into pole position overall. However, the very fine second place gleaned here by the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has enabled Pierre Pennec and his crew to come back to within just one point of the Italians to take the second step of the podium. Meantime, The Wave Muscat, winner of this Sicilian leg, makes its entrance into the top three, tied on points with the circuit’s New Zealand team. “Our main objective is to win the Extreme Sailing Series 2011. When you look at the ranking, our result in Cowes is all the more infuriating because we’d be in the lead now by a few points. You can’t change history though! We’ve learnt the lessons from that and our second place is proof of this. There’s no two ways about it. In Boston and in Cowes, we weren’t up to scratch. The fleet had made progress but we hadn’t, whilst in Trapani we’ve learnt from one day to the next. To achieve this you have to be lucid and humble before the Grand Prix. We started over so as to familiarise ourselves with the basics again and regain our competitive form” admitted Hervé Cunningham, bowman on Edmond de Rothschild Group. Christophe Espagnon’s reactions backed up this sentiment whilst already casting us forward to the next Grands Prix: “We knew how to raise our game throughout this Grand Prix and at the key moments in particular. We ended up just a handful of points shy of the frontrunner despite two fairly average first days in terms of results. For the next stage in proceedings this augurs very well to round things off in this way as it means that we’re still making good progress. Even on days like today, where we performed pretty well, we also saw situations where we can improve. Edmond de Rothschild Group isn’t expressing its true potential yet.”

In just ten days’ time, the Extreme Sailing Series fleet will be on the Côte d’Azur to contest the seventh act of the 2011 season. The only French leg of the championship, Nice will play host to the Extreme 40s for the first time from 28 September to 2 October. Edmond de Rothschild Group, the only French team to compete in the nine events which make up the circuit, will be temporarily joined by a second French team led by Jean-Pierre Dick. With the return of Dean Barker and Terry Hutchinson, respectively at the helm of Emirates Team New Zealand and Artemis Racing, the Nice Grand Prix promises to be just as intense a battle as the one which concluded here in Trapani today.

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 Trapani Grand Prix (after 34 races)

  1. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) - 283 points
  2. Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) - 274 points
  3. Oman Air (OMA) – 266,5 points
  4. Luna Rossa (ITA) - 263 points
  5. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) - 260 points
  6. Alinghi (SUI) – 256,9 points
  7. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) - 206,5 points
  8. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 171 points
  9. Niceforyou (ITA) - 161 points
  10. Team Extreme (EUR) - 145 points
  11. Artemis Racing (SWE) - 0 point

Ranking for the Extreme Sailing Series 2011 after six Grands Prix

  1. Luna Rossa (ITA) – 51 points
  2. Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) – 50 points
  3. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – 49 points
  4. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) – 49 points
  5. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – 43 points
  6. Alinghi (SUI) – 39 points
  7. Artemis Racing (SWE) – 37 points
  8. Oman Air (OMA) – 31 points
  9. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 17 points
  10. Niceforyou (ITA) – 15 points
  11. Team Extreme (EUR) – 13 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.

Inspired by the methods of British Sailing associations, which help young people in difficulty, some enthusiastic sailors who have settled in Palma, Mallorca, decided to create Joves Navegants. Aware of the complicated situation for certain youngsters on the island in serious economic and family difficulties, they have chosen to share their passion. The foundation organises several types of trips out to sea on the yacht, Galaxie. These days out involve journeys of discovery, awareness campaigns for sustainable development, participation in races and training aids to enable certain youngsters to envisage sailing as a professional career.

The Edmond de Rothschild Foundation will be supporting Joves Navegants in the organisation of trips out to sea during the summer, enabling the necessary technical improvements to be made on the Galaxie and making it possible for a team to take part in the “Ruta de la Sal” race in April.

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