Action from the off in Cardiff
For the first day of Extreme Sailing Series racing in Wales the wind was howling. Oscillating between 10 and 20 knots throughout the day, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group also had to contend with some strong gusts, which were sweeping the race zone. A boisterous introduction then, which meant that Pierre Pennec’s new crew got straight into the thick things. With merry-go-rounds and attractions being assembled for the Cardiff Harbour Festival, which the Extreme Sailing Series will run in conjunction with, Edmond de Rothschild Group were on a veritable roller-coaster ride today.

At the skippers’ briefing, the tone was set: it was going to be a lively day. With an average of 20 knots of breeze, gusting to 25 knots, the Race Committee called for one reef in the mainsail and helmets were compulsory. The fleet of Extreme 40s were keen to get going. At the first race start, the committee announced a general recall. Throughout the day, there were a series of OCS calls and Edmond de Rothschild Group had to come back and cross the start line again on two occasions (Race 1 and 6). Skipper Pierre Pennec explains the situation on his return to shore: “I tried to be incisive and aggressive at the starts and I was twice penalised. I think the problem related more to what I was doing and my references in relation to the line. I tried to correct it and in the last race we got off to a great start.”

Aboard the boat, the new crew didn’t spare any effort, clawing their way back up through the fleet after the OCS start. “I’m very happy with the crew’s mindset. Everyone is giving their all and remaining focused during the races and between them too. We made mistakes today, particularly during the initial races, but we’ve erased them now,” admitted Pierre Pennec. As such the men of Gitana Team have found their bearings, especially with the support of Arnaud Psarofaghis, the mainsail trimmer who also raced in Porto and is just back from San Francisco, where he was competing in the America’s Cup World Series. “I’m trying to bring my experience to bear from the cup. The conditions today were reminiscent of those we encountered in San Francisco. However, it’s not the same boat and the courses are a lot shorter. We were a bit behind with certain manoeuvres at times. We pulled off some good moves and others, which weren’t quite so good. Our focus will be on taking the good things forward to tomorrow.”

After eight races, including two fine second places, Edmond de Rothschild Group has racked up thirty-six points and is nineteen points shy of the leader Red Bull this evening (fifty-five points). “Of course, being a competitor, I’m not very happy with the result, but it’s only the first day and we’ve got everything to play for. We’re aware that on this circuit, things can change very quickly and what’s important today is how things go aboard the boat. Other than that, in terms of aggressiveness in relation to our rivals, I tried to give us some leeway by also trying to avoid faults committed by the others or their technical errors. At least we can say tonight that we brought the boat back intact, which is good for the next stage…” concluded the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group. Not quite so lucky though was Team Wales, which dismasted in the final race of the day.

Racing will kick off again tomorrow at 1400 hours local time in what are forecast to be lighter conditions than today. The Cardiff race zone is likely to be coloured by a 7-knot westerly wind, though gusts will still have an influence.

Today’s results for Edmond de Rothschild Group

Race 1 – 7th

Race 2 – 4th

Race 3 – 9th

Race 4 – 8th

Race 5 – 2nd

Race 6 – 6th

Race 7 – 6th

Race 8 – 2nd

Standing for the Cardiff Grand Prix after the first day (eight races run)
  1. Red Bull Sailing Team – 55 points
  2. Oman Air - 50 points
  3. GAC Pindar - 50 points
  4. SAP Extreme Sailing Team – 44 points
  5. The Wave Muscat – 43 points
  6. Alinghi – 39 points
  7. 7. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 36 points
  8. Zoulou - 22 points
  9. Team Wales – 20 points

The crew of the Extreme Edmond de Rothschild Group

Pierre Pennec (Skipper / Helmsman),

Arnaud Psarofaghis (trimmer and traveller),

Romain Motteau (headsail trimmer),

Christophe André (Bowman),

Romain Petit (trimmer),

Alexandre Guyader (coach)

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