High points for Edmond de Rothschild Group in the stadium races
For Pierre Pennec and his crew, this Saturday got off to a poor start. At the back of the fleet in this morning’s coastal courses on the Bosphorus, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group soon shook this off to give us a top-flight competition. Winners of two of the eight races contested over the second part of the day, and among the leaders for the rest, the men on Gitana Team are back on the third step of the podium in this evening’s provisional standing. In fine spirits with renewed confidence, they’ll be giving their all to defend their chances of victory tomorrow in the final day of competition in the Istanbul Grand Prix.

There certainly wasn’t any shortage of action or spectacle this Saturday on the waters of the Marmara Sea. With an inshore wind of between 8 and 14 knots, flat seas and a more than generous sunshine, the Extreme Sailing Series fleet had an absolute ball on the water today. Linking together a series of reaching starts (wind on the beam) and some express races coloured by hull flying, the eight crews competed in eight races this afternoon. A very substantial programme for the sailors today then, as they’d already sailed two coastal races mid-morning on the Bosphorus. The skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group gives us the lowdown on this long day of competition:

It was a very fine afternoon of sailing: conditions were perfect for the kind of racing we like and the crew did an outstanding job, which means that we’re still in with a chance of a win tomorrow. My crew are very physical, always calm and the onboard communication is fluid. It’s a real pleasure for me as skipper-helmsman, to compete with this group. Going back to today’s racing, this was run in two phases. We found it hard to get going, with two races that are best forgotten this morning on the Bosphorus. Fortunately though, the crew dug deep and we were able to demonstrate our potential in the stadium races. Since the start of the year, we’ve been able to pinpoint our real weakness: reaching starts, where I was having real problems putting up a consistent performance. However, we’ve put a lot of effort and work into that and it’s paying off as I’m now much more at ease and pertinent. We can still improve in this phase of the game, which is very positive and encouraging for the next stage of events.”

Bernard Labro, bowman on the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, was keen to discuss the mindset which drove the crew to get back into the thick of the action: “Our poor results in this morning’s races really fired up our motivation for the rest of the day. We were anxious to set things straight by sailing freely and applying ourselves to what we know best.”

A review of the points

Stripped of their first place yesterday and unfortunate in this morning’s races, Roman Hagara and his team were keen to do well this afternoon. The authors of two race victories – like the men of Gitana Team – and very consistent at the front of the fleet, the Austrian crew have snatched back the reins of Act 3 with one day of competition to go. They are just one point ahead of the Omanis on The Wave. Meantime, the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has harvested the fruit of an excellent afternoon’s sailing – the best of the fleet – and is back on the third step of the podium, which they lost to Oman Air yesterday. This evening Pierre Pennec and his four crew have an eight-point deficit in relation to the leaders and are just seven points shy of second place. However, now that they’re very familiar with the score in the Extreme Sailing Series, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group knows that the game is wide open and that ultimate victory is still within their grasp.

“We’re going to have to keep up the pace tomorrow: keep a cool head and take things one race at a time without focusing on our rivals’ points”, such was the game plan announced by the men before they headed back to their hotel for a well-deserved evening off.

The final races in the Istanbul Grand Prix will take place between 1200 and 1445 UTC. With wind conditions forecast to be similar to those encountered today and four teams gunning for the Holy Grail, the final of Act 3 promises to be a grandiose spectacle.

Standing for the Istanbul Grand Prix after the third day (twenty three races run)
  1. Red Bull Sailing Team - 129 points
  2. The Wave Muscat – 128 points
  3. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 121 points
  4. Oman Air - 117 points
  5. GAC Pindar - 91 points
  6. SAP Extreme Sailing Team - 91 points
  7. Alinghi - 82 points
  8. Zoulou - 68 points

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group

Pierre Pennec (Skipper / helmsman),

Christophe Espagnon (trimmer and mainsail traveller),

Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer),

Bernard Labro (bowman)

Romain Petit (trimmer)

Tanguy Leglatin (coach)

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