Edmond de Rothschild Group gains the advantage
The fifteen knots or so of easterly wind, which coloured the Baie des Anges throughout the afternoon, provided another great day’s sailing: nine races were contested and some splendid legs saw the Extreme 40s gain height as the offshore breezes packed a punch. Demonstrating their ease on Nice’s race zone yesterday, Pierre Pennec and his men again confirmed what great shape they’re in this Saturday. Indeed, despite pocketing just one race win today, compared with two yesterday, they were always in a favourable position at the front of the fleet. This consistent performance has borne fruit since tonight they have moved up into pole position. Leading, with just one day of the Nice competition to go, the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group is very much aware that their victory is far from being a done deal as their rivals are hot on their heels. Just 14 points separate the top four and they’re certainly not intending to let the French team have everything their own way.

This Saturday, the weather conditions were a little less boisterous on Nice’s race zone. Indeed, contrary to yesterday, the eight crews were able to sail at full bore throughout the afternoon with full mainsails. However, it was still blowy enough for the sailors and the public to relish the nine races run today. “The wind was a little lighter this Saturday, but it was also shiftier in terms of strength and direction. We started the day with around ten knots then it built to around 15 knots, gusting to 19-20 knots. The wind had backed a little and was a bit further offshore. The whole crew really enjoyed themselves in these conditions, though they certainly weren’t sparing any effort. There was a lot of work involved and once again my four crew performed well. We’re satisfied with our speed, especially upwind, where we have a little something extra in this type of breeze. There’s a lot of communication aboard and the fluidity of the great mass of data to be taken into account during a race is another of the keys to our success. We made a few mistakes, which resulted in penalties in race 6, but all in all we sailed very cleanly. At times we agreed to lose ground rather than get caught up in some potentially risky situations. This evening, we’re returning to port with a boat in tip-top condition, which is another important factor we believe,” explained Pierre Pennec, once Edmond de Rothschild Group was safely tied up in the port of Nice.

Arnaud Psarofaghis, who joined Pierre Pennec’s crew this year in Porto as mainsail trimmer, gave us his assessment of their performance today: “Conditions were certainly less boisterous, but I personally believe they were harder than yesterday. When the wind changes direction a lot, as was the case this afternoon, we have to do a lot more trimming aboard and the race zone can be especially complicated to read. However, I think that with the exception of one race, we made a good call with our tactical choices and in our positioning. We always headed off on port tack so as to benefit from the pressure down the right hand side of the race zone. The Race Committee listened to the criticism from the teams as regards the positioning of the start line and it was a lot better. Everyone could safely jockey for position at the start, which resulted in some fine races. For tomorrow the grib files seem to be indicating less breeze, but if need be we’re fired up and ready to attack should we end up with another breezy day, as such conditions really appeal to us,” concluded the young Swiss sailor, fresh from a win in the Vulcain Trophy 2012 aboard the D35.

Having secured 109 points, the men of Gitana Team have taken the lead in this Nice competition. However, there is little separating them from their pursuers: The Wave Muscat has a deficit of just four points, whilst its stablemate, Oman Air, is ten points shy of them. Behind them GAC Pindar is on 95 points, whilst today’s biggest loser is undoubtedly Red Bull Sailing Team in fifth position. Leading yesterday evening, Romain Hagara is over twenty-one points stray of the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild.

For the final day of competition in the Nice Grand Prix, the race programme will be somewhat similar to previous days. The races will kick off at 1130 UTC along the Promenade des Anglais with the end of racing due at 1500 UTC. There are just three and a half hours of racing left then before we find out if Pierre Pennec and his four crew will retain the title they won here a year ago and secure their first victory in the Extreme Sailing Series 2012.

Provisional standing for the Nice Grand Prix (after 19 races)
  1. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 109 points
  2. The Wave Muscat – 105.3 points
  3. Oman Air – 99 points
  4. GAC Pindar - 95 points
  5. Red Bull Sailing Team – 87.7 points
  6. SAP Extreme Sailing Team - 74 points
  7. Alinghi – 69 points
  8. Zoulou - 42 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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