Edmond de Rothschild Group gets its bearings in Porto
Hostilities in this fourth meeting of the season commenced late morning with some Open Water racing off the coast of Portugal. The first races of the Porto Grand Prix were contested outside the Douro River, so as to benefit from a playing field, which was more suited to the traditional long courses synonymous with the opening day. At the end of the seven races contested, the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is in second position, just a few points shy of today’s leader, The Wave Muscat. The Austrian team, led by Roman Hagara, complete the provisional podium.

Pierre Pennec and his four crew are gradually getting up to pace in the 4th act of the 2012 event schedule. Ranking second in the first three races of the day, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group had more difficulty showing what they were made of over the second half of the day. The rather irregular results are explained to us by Pierre Pennec on his return to the dock: “Today we had between 5 and 9 knots of breeze, but it was oscillating a fair bit due to the squalls rolling through. In addition to it being complicated to read, the difficulty lay in making good speed, since there were quite big seas on the race zone, despite the light winds. However, out of the first three races of the day, we got off to some good starts and were able to make the most of the conditions with some good speed. In the rest of the races, we were a bit short of speed. We very quickly analysed the reason behind this and sorted it out. We also made a few mistakes in terms of positioning. It’s a bit frustrating, as we started the day off very well and put up a consistent performance, but this is just the beginning.”

Shortly after 1430 hours, the Extreme Sailing Series fleet headed back to the Club, where they treated themselves to an exhibition race on the waters of the Douro. It proved to be a fine spectacle and it enabled the crew to map out conditions in the nautical area, which they’ll be racing on tomorrow: “In light conditions and on the long courses, the level of the fleet is relatively similar, as there are no particular difficulties in terms of the manœuvres. However, as soon as the wind picks up, it’s a whole different ball game, especially when we’re racing in the stadium (at the heart of the town), which is where the breeze will be strong. Porto is reminiscent of the race zone in Amsterdam, as it’s very narrow. However, you also have the current and the breeze here, which we’re assured will be steady, so things are really going to be lively!” assured the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group. “I have a crew which is cut out for the breeze and is very at ease both physically and technically, so we’re keen to go sailing in some slightly more boisterous conditions.” If forecasts pan out as they should, the wishes of the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group should quickly be granted.

Indeed the region of Porto is famed for its boisterous thermal breezes. This isn’t something the eight competing crews didn’t really have a chance to appreciate this morning, given the timing of their sailing slots, as the wind tends to pick up over the course of the day. However, tomorrow, with racing scheduled from 1200 to 1400 hours (local time) in Open Water, then another session from 1645 to 1930 hours (local time) in the stadium, Edmond de Rothschild Group and his adversaries should really be able to get the measure of this atypical race zone.

At the end of this first day of competition, the standing is very close. Leading the way, Leigh McMillan and his men are just ahead of Edmond de Rothschild Group and Red Bull Sailing Team is lying in third. Interestingly this was the order of the top trio in the last Grand Prix in Istanbul.

Tomorrow, the afternoon’s races will be broadcast live on the Extreme Sailing Series website.

Standing for the Porto Grand Prix after the first day (seven races run)

1. The Wave Muscat – 44 points

2. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 37 points

3. Red Bull Sailing Team – 34 points

4. GAC Pindar - 34 points

5. Alinghi – 32 points

6. Oman Air - 30 points

7. Zoulou - 27 points

8. SAP Extreme Sailing Team – 14 points

The crew on Edmond de Rothschild Group

Pierre Pennec (Skipper / Helmsman),

Arnaud Psarofaghis (mainsail trimmer),

Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer),

Bernard Labro (bowman)

Romain Petit (trimmer)

Benoit Briand (coach)

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