Tough to get to grips with the Brazilian playing field
For the first day of competition in Rio, the nine crews were able to compete in six races thanks to some fine sailing conditions. At 1430 local time, as the first start was sounded, around fifteen knots of breeze propelled the one-designs along on a reach at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain, creating a fabulous spectacle! A feast for the eyes it may have been but it proved to be a strategic headache for the navigators. Indeed Rio’s famous headland, which culminates at nearly 400 metres, certainly disrupts the trajectory of the wind, with its variations in intensity making it hard to read the race zone.

After getting off to a perfect start in today’s racing by scoring a bullet in the first race of the afternoon, Pierre Pennec and his men encountered more difficulty during the following five races, as the skipper explained on his return to the dock: “Conditions were very good today, with glorious sunshine, but the wind oscillated a great deal on the race zone. These variations in the intensity of the air flow made it complicated to read the race zone and were mainly down to the landmass, which surrounds the playing field and Sugarloaf Mountain in particular, as the wind switches from one side to the other fairly randomly. We got off to some good starts, with some effective line approaches, but our choices at the first mark rounding weren’t so appropriate in two of the races.”

“The race zone is shifty and split into two sections. Put simply, there was some established wind of around 15 knots on the start line and then the day’s minimum saw us with between 3 and 4 knots at the first gate. There were some light patches of wind to be avoided and we didn’t always manage to pull that off. We weren’t very lucky today and we made some errors in our choices of tack in certain races. The analysis from this first day is that you mustn’t think twice about taking the outside lane to remain quick and also to go about things more easily perhaps, especially in the mark approaches,” explained Arnaud Psarofaghis, mainsail trimmer aboard the boat.

Tonight Edmond de Rothschild Group is lying in seventh position. It’s certainly rather unfamiliar territory for Pierre Pennec’s crew but in terms of points it isn’t crippling for the next stage of the competition. Topping the leaderboard this evening, the Swiss team Alinghi has racked up thirty-eight points, which equates to nine points better than the French catamaran. That isn’t a massive deficit to make up given that there are still three days of competition to go and a number of races yet to contest in the Extreme Sailing Series: “we’re in a bad position but things got shaken up a great deal for all the teams and this evening our deficit in terms of the leaders remains acceptable. We know that things could very quickly go one way or the other and it’s up to us to reverse the trend tomorrow,” concluded the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group.

Tomorrow racing kicks off at 1400 hours local time with another day of stadium races on the cards. As such the Extreme Sailing Series fleet will be sailing on the same race zone as today, along the white sands of Flamengo Beach.

Provisional standing for the Rio Grand Prix (after 6 races)
  1. Alinghi - 38 points
  2. The Wave Muscat – 38 points
  3. Zoulou – 35 points
  4. Oman Air – 31 points
  5. Red Bull Sailing Team – 31 points
  6. SAP Sailing Team – 30 points
  7. Edmond de Rothschild Group - 29 points
  8. GAC Pindar - 19 points
  9. Team Brasil - 19 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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