The breeze livens up proceedings
At last! The wind, forecast for several days now, finally showed up in Andalusia on this fourth day of the Almeria Grand Prix. As such the eleven crews were able to express the true potential of their Extreme 40s today, pulling out all the stops for the Spanish locals, who were out in force on this first day of the weekend. Manhandled yesterday in the light airs, Pierre Pennec and his men got their bearings today in the more boisterous conditions. Tonight the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is back in third position on the provisional podium, but this recovery wasnt without difficulty.

Lacking wind for the bulk of the races so far, if we include those contested during the previous Grand Prix in Nice, the sailors were keen to see their hulls flying again. Today, their wishes were finally heard and granted. A fine easterly breeze of between 10 and 14 knots, losing intensity over the course of the afternoon, enabled the race committee for the Extreme Sailing Series to launch no less than ten races.The wind conditions we benefited from during the open water races really suited us, but we weren’t able to make the most of them. Out of four races, we scored two good results and two rather average ones. In fact I was too greedy at two of the starts (Edmond de Rothschild Group crossed the line early). However, we managed to refocus so we were back in our stride as soon as we entered the marine stadium. In the breezy conditions, my crew manœuvres extremely well. It is very powerful and that enables us to rack up some good races” explained Pierre Pennec.

However, this return to business wasn’t all idyllic and rather like the French rugby men this morning, it was rather painful getting back into the game for Pierre Pennec and his three crew. Indeed in the penultimate race of the day, the ninth, Edmond de Rothschild Group was battling at the front of the pack when it impacted with Emirates Team New Zealand: “We all know that in these boisterous conditions, coming into contact with the other boats is never far away. As such, we were all being careful so the races didn’t turn to carnage. Some of our rivals foul us, while others come in on starboard, but we certainly don’t cut them up. In race nine, we fouled Luna Rossa so yes, the Italians were quite within their right, but aboard our boat we were trying our best to avoid a collision, which is not something they attempted to do at any point. Ultimately, it was a third boat which had to pick up the pieces and I’m not really happy about it!” Indeed Pierre Pennec and his men were then unable to avoid colliding with Emirates Team New Zealand, which was going across their bow. Seriously damaged on the port float during this misfortune, the Kiwi one-design had to quickly make for the pontoon where she was immediately lifted out onto the hard. It was a race incident which the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group are very sorry about: “I’d really like to apologise to the New Zealand crew. They are really talented, nice sailors and they always sail cleanly on the water. I already apologised just after it happened but I’d like to reiterate that. I really hope that they’ll be able to return to the race zone tomorrow. Marie, who’s in charge of the composite materials for us, will naturally offer her services to make that possible.It’s no fun whatsoever to break boats because we know how much work that requires!” concluded Pierre Pennec, who of course recalls the work done by Gitana Team’s shore crew during the Cowes Grand Prix.

With one day to go until the end of the Spanish meeting, the Swiss on Alinghi, winners of three races and very consistent this Saturday, have taken the lead in the provisional standing. However, at this stage of the championship, Pierre Pennec and his three crew are more focused on their main rival in the annual ranking, namely Luna Rossa. The two boats didn’t leave each others sides all day long, proof if need be that the duelling has already commenced. This evening, the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has just a seven point deficit in relation to the Italian one-design, despite a rather chaotic day. However, tomorrow the danger won’t just come from Max Sirena’s men as their pursuers are also hot on their heels and certainly haven’t had their final say.

Ranking for the Almeria Grand Prix at the end of the 4th day

  1. Alinghi (SUI) – 187 points
  2. Luna Rossa (ITA) – 169 points
  3. Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) - 162 points
  4. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) - 159 points
  5. Oman Air (OMA) – 157 points
  6. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) – 155 points
  7. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – 155 points
  8. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 144 points
  9. Team Extreme (EUR) – 100 points
  10. Niceforyou (ITA) – 94 points
  11. Team Tilt (SUI) - 93 points

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