“It’s the annual final!” admits the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group. Second in the championship prior to this last Grand Prix, the men from Gitana Team are preparing for an intense competition at the end of which the winner of the 2011 circuit will be decided. “From the very outset, I think that our boat and that of our direct rival will never be far from each others’ sides. Indeed the five days of racing could well turn into a spot of match-racing. That suits us, because though the helmsman from Luna Rossa is renowned for being a specialist in this form of racing, we’ve just been putting in some serious graft along similar lines during the America’s Cup World Series in San Diego”, said a smiling Pierre Pennec. Indeed, in mid-November the skipper from La Rochelle and two of their team – Christophe Espagnon and Thierry Fouchier – stepped aboard the French AC 45 Aleph, where they were able to successfully duel against the best teams around in this particular discipline. “We still have a few adjustments to make aboard, particularly if we are to perform well in the light airs. However, we are confident because the eight previous Grands Prix have demonstrated that our crew had the potential to win this competition” admitted Pierre Pennec.
The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group headed off to Singapore last night so as to acclimatise to the equatorial conditions and the time difference. From tomorrow they will be joined by their shore crew – Marie Dixneuf and Cyril Ducrot – and they’ll proceed with the traditional assembly of the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. Tuesday will see the only day of training permitted by the organisers for all the competitors. This will involve a few precious hours on the water, which they’ll have to put to good use to familiarise themselves with the race zone in Singapore. It’s an atypical playing field which will have the onboard tacticians scratching their heads, as Pierre Pennec explains: “we’ll get the chance to discover the race zone in the next few days and we’ll have to adapt very quickly to the specific features which colour it. We already know that the race zone will be small and in an enclosed area surrounded by skyscrapers. The general trend in the zone refers to a relatively capricious and fluky wind, especially as Singapore is renowned for its high storm activity during this season.”
Now well-versed with the typical high suspense scenario that the Extreme Sailing Series enjoys offering up with each of its events, right through until the final race, Pierre Pennec and his men know that they will have to be consistent all the way to the finish if they are to be in with a chance of gleaning the annual title they’re aiming for. Though the top spot is promising to be extremely hotly contested, the same is true for the third step of the podium. Indeed, mathematically, four crews are still in with a chance of snatching it: Emirates Team New Zealand, Alinghi, The Wave Muscat as well as the Austrians on Red Bull.
Those forces present
For the final leg of the season, the line-up will match the high level now synonymous with the event. Indeed, ten crew will be gathered together on the race zone in Singapore, including the 100% French newcomer, helmed by sailor Sébastien Col.Team Extreme - the first club™ will be driven by Jean-Christophe Mourniac, a grand specialist of the multihull and the racing format so characteristic of the Extreme Sailing Series races. Also of note is the return of New Zealand’s leader, Dean Barker, at the helm of the Kiwi one-design, as well as the presence of Chris Draper on Oman Air as a replacement for Ben Ainslie.
Those competing in Singapore: Edmond de Rothschild Group,Luna Rossa, Emirates Team New Zealand, Alinghi, The Wave Muscat, Red Bull Extreme Sailing, Oman Air and Team GAC Pindar, Team Tilt, Team Extreme - the first club™.
The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group
Pierre Pennec (Skipper / Helmsman), Christophe Espagnon (mainsail trimmer), Thierry Fouchier (headsail trimmer), Hervé Cunningham (Bowman)
Ranking in the Extreme Sailing Series 2011 prior to the Singapore Grand Prix
- Luna Rossa (ITA) – 69 points
- Edmond de Rothschild Group (FRA) – 68 points
- Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ) – 60 points
- Alinghi (SUI) – 59 points
- The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – 57 points
- Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – 53 points
- Artemis Racing (SWE) – 48 points
- Oman Air (OMA) – 47 points
- Team GAC Pindar (GBR) – 30 points
- Niceforyou (ITA) – 17 points
- Team Extreme (EUR) – 17 points
The Extreme Edmond de Rothschild Group supports the Joves Navegants foundation
The family of Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has always had a passion for nautical activities, a commitment embodied today by the Gitana Team. As such the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations have quite naturally been sensitive to the mission of Joves Navegants and touched by the profound collective commitment to helping these young people in precarious situations.
Inspired by the methods of British Sailing associations, which help young people in difficulty, some enthusiastic sailors who have settled in Palma, Mallorca, decided to create Joves Navegants. Aware of the complicated situation for certain youngsters on the island in serious economic and family difficulties, they have chosen to share their passion. The foundation organises several types of trips out to sea on the yacht, Galaxie. These days out involve journeys of discovery, awareness campaigns for sustainable development, participation in races and training aids to enable certain youngsters to envisage sailing as a professional career.
The Edmond de Rothschild Foundation will be supporting Joves Navegants in the organisation of trips out to sea during the summer, enabling the necessary technical improvements to be made on the Galaxie and making it possible for a team to take part in the “Ruta de la Sal” race in April.
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