Edmond de Rothschild Group is back on the hunt for the Extreme Sailing Series title
For the second year running, the Extreme Sailing Series is kicking off its world tour in the Sultanate of Oman. Tomorrow, Tuesday 28 February, the start of the 2012 season will begin offshore of The Wave Muscat marina. For four days, Pierre Pennec and his men on Edmond de Rothschild Group will pit themselves against the seven other crews. This initial confrontation will enable them to size each other up against some fresh competition, though the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has also undergone some changes for its fourth season on the circuit.

Though the racing has been shortened by a day, the competition format for the Extreme Sailing Series remains unchanged for this new season. In this way, from tomorrow the Oman Grand Prix will kick off with some so-called “Open Water” races, where the classic courses will be run just a stone’s throw from the shore. This warm-up day will allow the crews to find their bearings before entering the arena for real the next day. Indeed, over the course of the following three days, the emphasis will be on the races contested in the marine stadium provided by The Wave Muscat site. It’s a playing field which the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group has some very fond memories of, as skipper Pierre Pennec recalls: “We’re delighted that the season is kicking off in Oman once again. The whole team has excellent memories of this leg. The sailing conditions and the competition site are perfect: a fine breeze, which guarantees a great show and enables us to get the very best from our steeds, along with the sun and the heat whilst France is in the depths of winter. The Oman Grand Prix 2011 was my first meeting as skipper/ helm of the Extreme 40 Edmond de Rothschild Group. It resulted in a victory against crews of international renown, so naturally we have very fond memories of what was a very emotional time.”

Second in the Extreme Sailing Series and winners of two Grands Prix – including that in Oman - in 2011, Pierre Pennec and his crew fully intend to add some fresh entries to Gitana Team’s list of achievements this season. Their assets will doubtless be their respective experiences and their versatility, though it’s as a team that they will have to try to find the right alchemy to achieve the level of consistency which is essential for securing the title. “It’s with great delight that the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group is returning to the Extreme Sailing Series. Our second place in the 2011 championship, even though it was a very good result, left us with a sense of unfinished business and we’re returning with every intention of climbing the extra step that separates us from victory. Though we have a solid base to rely on, particularly as regards our knowledge of the circuit and the format of the races, nothing is set in stone and we have to start again from scratch each year”, concluded Pierre Pennec.

Some new additions to the 2012 crew

With half the crew replaced, the men on the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild are back on the hunt for the Extreme Sailing Series title. In this way, Bernard Labro and Jean-Christophe Mourniac have joined Pierre Pennec and Hervé Cunningham, who together form one of the most experienced crews on the circuit.

The 2012 season marks the arrival of some fresh faces aboard the French one-design in the colours of Edmond de Rothschild Group. Bernard Labro, an America’s Cup specialist and foredeck expert on a wide range of craft, is taking up the position of bowman in the Gitana Team. He’ll replace Hervé Cunningham, who now fills the role of headsail trimmer. A newcomer aboard the boat, but a very familiar face on the circuit, Jean-Christophe Mourniac (better known as “Kinou”) will be responsible for working the traveller. He replaces Christophe Espagnon, who is now involved with the latest Gitana craft, the MOD 70 Edmond de Rothschild Group skippered by Sébastien Josse.

For the first Grand Prix of the season, the Extreme Sailing Series’ organisers also wished to introduce a new rule, bringing the set number of crew aboard the Extreme 40s to five. As such, Adeline Chatenet, a physiotherapist by profession, is embarking aboard Edmond de Rothschild Group. At the end of the races contested in Oman, we’ll find out if this experiment has borne fruit and will be carried on in the seven other events which make up the 2012 circuit.

Of note is the fact that Thierry Peponnet, double Olympic 470 medallist (gold in 1988 in Seoul and bronze in 1984 in Los Angeles), is working alongside them as sports coach.

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group

Pierre Pennec (Skipper / helm),

Jean-Christophe Mourniac (Trimmer and traveller),

Hervé Cunningham (Headsail trimmer),

Bernard Labro (Bowman)

Adeline Chatenet(5th man)

The 2012 line-up for the Extreme Sailing Series

Alinghi – Ernesto Bertarelli (Sui)

GAC Pindar – Ian Williams (Gbr)

Edmond de Rothschild Group – Pierre Pennec (Fra)

Oman Air - Morgan Larson (Oma)

Red Bull Sailing Team – Roman Hagara (Aut)

Team Extreme – not communicated

The Wave Muscat – Leigh McMillan (Oma)

Zoulou – Erik Maris (Fra)

NB: during certain legs additional teams, under invitation from the organiser, may flesh out the usual eight crews temporarily.

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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