The breeze in Nice inspires Edmond de Rothschild Group
Deprived of any racing yesterday given the boisterous weather conditions, the eight crews competing in the Nice Grand Prix have since been able to make up for lost time. Today saw wind, action and no fewer than ten races contested this Friday on Nice’s race zone. Throughout the course of the afternoon the Extreme Sailing Series were close to the edge, which inevitably provided the perfect spectacle for the big crowds, which thronged to the Promenade des Anglais. The winner of two races and very often at the front of the pack, the crew of the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild was very quickly able to adapt to the twenty knots or so of breeze, which reigned over the Baie des Anges today. These results have enabled Pierre Pennec and his men to snatch second place in the provisional overall standing for this Grand Prix, behind Red Bull Sailing Team and ahead of The Wave Muscat.

With one reef in the mainsail, helmets and lifejackets compulsory for everyone, the tone was set the minute the fleet left the port of Nice shortly after 1100 UTC. However, despite these bracing conditions, the organisers of the Extreme Sailing Series managed to run a good number of races. In this way, the crews were finally able to put the pedal to the metal and fly a hull, hugging Nice’s shoreline: “We had some fine sailing conditions with a breeze oscillating between 16 and 23 knots and a relatively flat sea. I think it’s the first real breezy day this year and it was quite something. They’re the kind of conditions we like on Edmond de Rothschild Group. My crew worked superbly well as it was a long, packed day. The courses were very short and the manoeuvres were constant for them, which requires a great deal of energy.”

And Hervé Cunningham certainly wasn’t saying any different on his return to shore: “It was pretty sporty today!” explained the headsail trimmer. “The race committee set a start line, which was a little bit too extreme for our liking! We were very close to the coast, with no escape routes, which was dangerous given the conditions. There was some breakage today during the start phases, which is always regrettable. Perhaps if they’d decided to push the line offshore by fifty metres or so, things would have been simpler for the crews. The selected position forced us to make our approach to windward of the line, which is totally unheard on… even on Extreme 40s.”

Aboard the one-design catamarans, conditions from this opening day have left their mark. Between collisions and breakages, notably due to the violence of certain gybes, the shore crews have a lot on their plates tonight patching up the multihulls. The men of Gitana Team are no exception to the rule, but the damage remains slight and inconsequential for the Extreme Edmond de Rothschild Group: “There are a few scratches but we’ve come out of it pretty well. We broke a few sail battens, our boom is also damaged as it compressed on itself and we have some impact on the bows. Hubert and Sébastien, our préparateurs, are already hard at work to ensure the boat is as good as new tomorrow.” For some, the damage is more significant, such as aboard Red Bull and The Wave Muscat, which had to be lifted out onto the hard after suffering structural damage during the start of today’s last race. Similarly, the local boat from Nice (Zoulou) had to throw in the towel and retire from the race in the eighth race of the afternoon, after exploding the helm on collision with a rival.

Scoring 56 points, Pierre Pennec and his four crew are in second position this evening in the provisional standing for the sixth Grand Prix of the season. Roman Hagara’s men benefited from being the infringed yacht, following their collision in the last race of the day, to take the lead. However, just 0.7 points separate the two crews.

Tomorrow, racing will kick-off again from 1100 UTC. And with nearly four hours of racing planned by the committee, the Extreme Sailing Series fleet will contest a fair few races. With regards the weather, the wind is set to put in an appearance once again, though it isn’t likely to be quite as intense as today with around fifteen knots expected.

Provisional standing for the Nice Grand Prix (after 10 races)
  1. Red Bull Sailing Team – 56.7 points
  2. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 56 points
  3. The Wave Muscat – 53.3 points
  4. Oman Air – 51 points
  5. GAC Pindar - 47 points
  6. SAP Extreme Sailing Team - 45 points
  7. Alinghi – 37 points
  8. Zoulou - 16 points

The crew of the Extreme Edmond de Rothschild Group

Pierre Pennec (Skipper / Helmsman),

Arnaud Psarofaghis (trimmer and traveller),

Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer),

Bernard Labro (bowman)

Romain Petit (trimmer)

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