A rethink in order for the start phases
Cardiff provided some varied conditions for this fifth act of the season. With the wind oscillating in terms of both strength and direction, the large gusts proved even more complicated for the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group and its two replacements for this event. Making steady progress throughout the Grand Prix, Pierre Pennec and his men just missed out on a podium finish. Indeed for six of the nine competitors, the final standing in Wales was decided on the last race of the day.

The day began well for the crew of the Extreme 40 fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. “The crew’s mindset this morning, before going out on the water for the last day of racing, was that we had nothing to lose today. We were in a position to be able to attack the podium with some easier weather conditions than on previous days in terms of wind strength. This final day went well all in all. We got off to some better starts and we were moving up the scorecard throughout the races, and we put up a much more consistent performance than yesterday too. We were climbing up the overall standing until the final race, which was double-point scoring,” explains Pierre Pennec, skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group. Indeed, with every race, the skipper and his men were battling to hook up with the top of the leaderboard again. Focused and lying in wait for their chance to strike, they overtook several adversaries at the mark roundings, three at once on occasion.

At 1640 hours, the Extreme Sailing Series fleet readied themselves for the final race start. “At that point our old demons from this week came back to haunt us” said Pierre Pennec ironically. “We got off to a very poor start - 5 to 7 seconds behind the rest of the fleet. I tried to set off quite late so as the boat was powered up with enough speed to position myself where I wanted and what actually happened was that we ended up in a wind hole. With one minute to go, we were already trying to fill the sails to get to the start line but it was already too late. Everyone else had gone. It was very frustrating because prior to this final race, we were 10 points behind Red Bull, who was third overall and Red Bull then got an individual recall. The podium was within our grasp despite a lacklustre week in terms of results. Stupidly losing two places like that on a start is maddening. Once we’d broken the crew in, we worked very well together and we were ultra-motivated at every race and we were improving everyday.”

Ultimately less than a point separated Edmond de Rothschild Group from 5th place, following the redress awarded to Gitana Team by the jury, and their 0.7-point deficit was a first since the creation of the circuit.

It was also the first time that the Extreme Sailing Series made a stopover in Cardiff, which has signed up for future editions. “The Cardiff race zone was good in the sense that the water is flat there. It was easy to read the puffs of breeze as soon as there was a little bit of wind. However, the start zone was a sore point for us. Very close to the public, it was also very disturbed by the buildings. We started out with light winds, less than 5 knots, and then we had winds of between 10 and 15 knots. I didn’t manage to be very opportunistic in the start phases.”

Oman Air won the Cardiff Grand Prix ahead of The Wave, Muscat and Red Bull Sailing Team, who just made the podium. “The top three in the overall standing sail very well with stable crews throughout the season and they’ve extended their lead this evening. For us, winning the season is going to be a tough ask, even though it’s still feasible, but we won’t be giving up. There are still two Grands Prix to go and we’re going to give our all to get the best result we can.”

The next meeting for Pierre Pennec and his men will be Nice from 18 to 21 October following the cancellation of the Trapani Grand Prix.

Standing for the Cardiff Grand Prix after the fourth day (thirty-two 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

Provisional standing for the Extreme Sailing Series after five Grands Prix
  1. The Wave Muscat – 48 points
  2. Red Bull Sailing Team – 41 points
  3. Oman Air – 41 points
  4. 4. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 36 points
  5. GAC Pindar - 29 points
  6. SAP Extreme Sailing Team - 24 points
  7. Alinghi – 22 points
  8. Zoulou - 19 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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