The pretenders out in force
Five races were able to be contested on this the opening day of the Singapore Grand Prix and the last event of the Extreme Sailing Series 2011. However, the race committee had to reckon with the vagaries of the weather and contend with the storms in order to provide the ten competing crews with the optimum sailing conditions. At the end of this first day, the Austrians on Red Bull Sailing Team have taken an early lead. The author of two race victories, just like Pierre Pennec and his men, Roman Hagara’s team was rewarded for its consistent performance. The catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is positioned in third place in the provisional standing, just two points shy of Luna Rossa, the team’s direct rival for the title. The battle, which will crown the 2011 winner, has well and truly commenced!

The setting is on a par with the competitive stakes. The numerous buildings, with their futuristic architecture, which encircle the Extreme Sailing Series race zone, provide a unique backdrop as well as demanding conditions for the ten one-design catamarans. Concerned about the weather conditions which could reign in Singapore for this final event of the season, the men from Gitana Team have been partly reassured today, as Pierre Pennec explains: “It’s true that we were prepared for the worst here as the race zone is very cramped and lined with numerous skyscrapers which can really disturb the wind. However, to our great delight, conditions were just fine today. The wind oscillated between five and eight knots. This enabled us to express ourselves without it turning into a free-for-all on the water. We hope it will be same over the next four days.” However, to provide such sailing conditions, the race committee had to be patient and didn’t think twice about interrupting the racing for a good hour as they waited for a storm roaring over the city to pass over so the wind could re-establish itself.

Victorious in two of the five races run this Wednesday, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group is out to prove, if need be, that it’s very much in contention for the grand finale. Indeed it’s worth remembering that in order to win the 2011 season, it is imperative that the men on Gitana Team finish ahead of those skippered by Max Sirena. Well aware of the fact that, for a number of weeks now, Luna Rossa hasn’t made this easy, Pierre Pennec and his crew had further confirmation of this on the first day of the competition: “There weren’t any special instructions aboard for these initial races as we are very much aware that, in this series, you have to take each day as it comes, applying ourselves in every race. The men on Luna Rossa don’t appear to see things in this way and they have been aggressive from the off, particularly at the start of the last race”, admitted Thierry Fouchier, the headsail trimmer on the boat. Pierre Pennec backed up this view: “They hunted us down on the line and we got off to a bad start. However, the crew remained very calm and was able to snap up the first opportunity which presented itself to slip ahead of them during the race. We were expecting things to pan out in this way as Paul Campbell James is famed for sailing like this. We will have to ensure we don’t let anything slide and give back as good as we get. It’s going to be very close, but that’s why we’re here and our team is ready to defend itself and battle to win the annual championship.”

Satisfied with their introduction, the men on Edmond de Rothschild Group are also pleased with their boat speed on the racetrack. In fact this was an area that Pierre Pennec and his three crew had hoped to improve on, so the outlook is positive.

Standing for the Singapore Grand Prix after the first day

  1. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – 45 points
  2. Luna Rossa (ITA) – 39 points
  3. Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) – 37 points
  4. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) – 29 points
  5. Oman Air (OMA) – 27 points
  6. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 22 points
  7. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – 22 points
  8. Alinghi (SUI) – 21 points
  9. Team Tilt (SUI) – 18 points
  10. Team Extreme - the first club™(EUR) – 15 points

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group

Pierre Pennec (skipper / helmsman), Christophe Espagnon (mainsail trimmer), Thierry Fouchier (headsail trimmer), Hervé Cunningham (bowman)

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