The deterioration of weather conditions that started yesterday has continued this Saturday in Istanbul, with low cloud and rain showers marking this fourth day of the competition. Along with the missing sunshine on this Turkish race zone today, the wind proved rather more timid today, and above all more capricious than during the three previous days. Indeed it oscillated between 6 and 9 knots throughout the afternoon. Unfortunately the performance by the crew on Edmond de Rothschild Group was reminiscent of the weather: “It’s a gloomy day for us, just like the weather!” said Thierry Fouchier ironically.
Displaying impressive control and a particularly consistent performance yesterday, the men of Edmond de Rothschild Group didn’t manage to demonstrate the same prowess this Saturday. Penalised on several occasions by the on-the-water judges, the crew is paying for its mistakes this evening: “We racked up three penalties out of the eight fleet races contested and that’s three penalties too many if we’re to stand a chance of ranking well… A 360° (a manœuvre that has to be performed to make up for the penalty) doesn’t help matters, especially within such an homogenous fleet and on such short courses. However, these penalties were fully justified as we made mistakes today. We’ll have to try to erase all thoughts of that very quickly tomorrow and sail cleanly like we’re used to doing”, admitted Hervé Cunningham, the bowman. Despite this, the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild remains very much in contention for victory in the Istanbul Grand Prix and Pierre Pennec’s men have every intention of defending their chances right the way to the finish. Indeed, this evening, the separation is so slight between the top five boats, that it’s impossible to say which of these five will win Act 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series. As such, once again, everything will be decided over the course of the final day of the competition and maybe even the last race of this Turkish Grand Prix, the notorious race which scores double points: “We’re very close in terms of points. The pressure will increase tomorrow so it won’t be a surprise to see the leading boats committing errors and overshooting the start line… that’s where we’ll have to put up a solid performance. We’re ready for it and keen to get out on the water”, adds Pierre Pennec.
Tomorrow the racing programme is set to change and the afternoon will be run in two stages. The first round will begin at 1500 hours local time (1300 GMT) and will come to an end an hour and a half later. At 1800 hours, the ten one-designs still competing will head back out onto the Golden Horn race zone for two more hours of racing. The outcome of the Istanbul Grand Prix will be revealed shortly after 2000 hours local time.
Team Extreme, not participating but ranked
Yesterday, during the fourth race of the day, Team Extreme was the victim of some serious damage following an impressive collision with Alinghi. The one-design skippered by Roland Gaebler was very badly damaged in the impact and the boat’s structure itself was affected. Repairs in Istanbul quickly proved to be impossible for the crew. With the responsibility for the incident being down to the Swiss team, Team Extreme is the “infringed yacht” according to the terms used in nautical jargon. In such an event, even if the yacht carrying a European flag is no longer racing, it amasses points and will be ranked at the end of the event. For this the jury takes the average from the races sailed by Team Extreme during the first two days of racing.
Provisional ranking in the Istanbul Grand Prix on 28 May (after 33 races)
1. Emirates Team New Zealand – 228 points
2. Artemis Racing – 224 points
3. The Wave, Muscat – 218 points
4. Edmond de Rothschild Group – 217 points
5. Luna Rossa – 215 points
6. Red Bull Extreme Sailing – 187 points
7. Team Extreme – 177.6 points
8. Oman Air – 170 points
9. Alinghi – 161 points
10. Team GAC Pindar – 160 points
11. Niceforyou – 153 points