Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Extreme 40s: Halfway Stage and Guichard Fights Back

Extreme 40s in action off Cowes. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/OC Events.

by Emily Caroe

The third day of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week saw less wind but no less action on the water as the nine teams competing in the UK round of the five-stop circuit battled for every point and every place on the race course. The sailors were pushing all the time with some very aggressive starting tactics resulting in a general recall in race 15, and some teams finding themselves on the wrong side of the start line when the gun fired, having to turn round and re-start again in two races. The umpires were dishing out the penalties like oranges at half-time.

The sea breeze literally kicked in 60 seconds before the start of the first inshore race today and the Extreme 40s sprang to life in the 8-10 knot breeze that increased rapidly to 12-14 knots and topping 18 for a couple of races. More than enough for these light catamarans to fly their hulls upwind and for the spray to soak the crew on the downwind legs at 20 knots (23mph) of boat speed keeping the spectators enthralled.

Not surprisingly, Yann Guichard and his men on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild excelled in the less frenetic conditions, after struggling in the stronger winds of the first two days, and have moved into third place on the leaderboard with 112 points just one point behind Loick Peyron’s Oman Sail Masirah. Peyron scored a win in the morning offshore race and posted two second places this afternoon but they lacked consistency, and this has put them dangerously within reach of Guichard.

Gitana. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/OC Events.

Paul Campbell-James has kept The Wave, Muscat at the top of the leaderboard on 127 points. They may not be nailing every race but finishing inside the top four in five of today’s seven races was enough: “We loved it today, we actually tried to tone it down a bit and step back slightly from all the action but you just can’t do it! We had a couple of really, really close ducks today… We ducked behind on port with the guys on Groupama on starboard and the front of our hull literally flew over the back of his boat and our centerboard missed his hull by about 20 centimeters!”

Britain’s Mike Golding was initially having another good day – scoring third place in the first two races. But then came a sixth place and although they were leading in the next race, a penalty on the first leg cost them four crucial places. Ecover have now dropped from second to fourth on the leaderboard sharing the same number of points as Groupe Edmond de Rothschild. However, Mike’s helmsman Leigh McMillan continues to impress and the team will be fighting back hard tomorrow.

Extreme 40 action off Cowes. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/OC Events.

Roman Hagara and the Red Bull Extreme Sailing team had a cracking day with three bullets and Hagara was clearly delighted when he chatted with the crowds afterwards. At the halfway stage of this UK round his team are back in the fight, just six points behind Ecover.

Franck Cammas’ shore team worked until 0500 this morning to ensure Groupama 40 was back racing after their crash yesterday that caused extensive damage to their daggerboards and rudders. Franck and his crew repaid their hard work with a couple of second places today. The team has also been rewarded redress after yesterday’s incident (a total of 10 points) and Groupama 40 now have 97 points which puts them in sixth place on the leaderboard, 15 points ahead of Team GAC Pindar. Mitch Booth had a frustrating day, not really reaping the rewards of some very aggressive tactics and then suffering a broken furling system which meant they had to sit out race 17.

Roland Jourdain’s Veolia Environnement struggled with their gennaker handling at times which cost them dearly, but they are starting to find their feet amongst their more experienced Extreme 40 counterparts. Although, there would have been plenty of French cursing on board when leading the last race, they went the wrong way going from hero to zero… Welcome to the world of Extreme Sailing!

Extreme Sailing Series Europe