Saturday, 9 October 2010

Extreme 40: Time for the Final Act (Gitana Team) - Extreme Sailing Series

by Kate Jennings (in translation)

Tomorrow sees the start of the fifth and final Grand Prix of the Extreme Sailing Series. The 2010 championship is drawing to a close and the new winner will be revealed on Tuesday 12th October after four days of competition disputed on the race zone of Almeria, at the southern tip of Spain in Andalusia. With four boats still in contention for the outright title, proceedings will doubtless be lively with some full-on nautical battles. For Yann Guichard’s men, lying in ambush on the second step of the provisional podium and winners of two of the four events already contested, naturally the objective remains outright victory. However, more important to the crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group than the result, is the way in which they sail.

The Andalusian city of Almeria is playing host to the fleet of Extreme 40s for the second year running. Furthermore, for the 2010 season final, the organisers have concocted a full race programme for the eight competing teams. The competition days will begin shortly after 1400 hours with so-called ‘long’ races, contested just outside the harbour walls. Following on from these, midway through the afternoon, the fleet of one design catamarans will compete in the event’s more familiar short race formats, right next to the quayside in Almeria to put on a show for the big Spanish crowds expected: “Unlike last year, where all the races were run within the harbour walls, we have some races scheduled to take place outside involving some slightly longer courses. The variety and the switch in race format is a positive thing. We’ll have to be versatile to hang onto our position at top of the table, which isn’t something I mind!” explains Yann Guichard.

At this stage of the competition, calculations are rife. Indeed, to win the Extreme Sailing Series 2010 outright, the crew of the catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild will have to finish ahead of Paul Campbell-James’ men in this event. Very much aware of this fact, Yann Guichard has no intention of focusing on a single competitor however: “The top four boats can play to win in Almeria as just four points separate us in the championship ranking. Above all else we’ll have to sail well and enjoy our time on the water, as we’ve always done, before thinking in terms of positions and points. This is always the way we play it” recalled the skipper of the Gitana Team. “My crew and I are confident. The last races, in the Grand Prix of Trapani at the end of September, taught us a lot and we intend to tackle this final meet of the year with a real sense of keenness and motivation.”

Since Trapani, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild Group has spared no effort and has had to adapt to a busy schedule. Indeed for several months now, Yann Guichard has been juggling two objectives: that of winning the crewed Extreme Sailing Series and that of earning another victory for Gitana Team in the famous solo transatlantic race between Saint Malo and Pointe-à-Pitre, the start of which is looming ever closer.

On his return from a night at sea aboard the maxi-trimaran Gitana 11 and a few hours prior to taking off for Spain, the Gitana Team skipper expressed his views about these switches in craft and the considerable disparity between the two disciplines: “My numerous years in Olympic Sailing were very good training. Aboard the Tornado, we were constantly linking together races and training sessions, to the extent that we were always in competition mode. As such my schedule over the past few months has been a question of organisation. I’m lucky to be very well supported within the Gitana Team. You might think that, just a few days before the start of the Rhum, coming here to race in the Extreme may ‘disrupt’ the preparation, but in reality it’s a welcome addition. The Grands Prix enable me to unwind and have fun doing some close contact racing. Certainly my main goal this year remains the Route du Rhum.”

Two new crews to join the Extreme Sailing Series in Almeria

A Spanish Extreme 40 called Rumbo Almeria, co-skippered by Mitch Booth and Guillermo Altadill, will join the regular teams, along with a one design from New Zealand (Emirates Team New Zealand) helmed by Dean Barker. The arrival of these two crews brings the number of teams competing in the Grand Prix of Almeria to eight.

Provisional ranking for the Extreme Sailing Series 2010 (after four Grands Prix)
1. The Wave, Muscat (Paul Campbell-James) - 28 points
2. Edmond de Rothschild (Yann Guichard) - 27 points
3. Ecover Sailing Team (Mike Golding) - 25 points
4. Oman Sail Masirah (Loïck Peyron) - 24 points
5. Groupama 40 (Franck Cammas) - 13 points
6. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (Roman Hagara) - 12 points
7. The Ocean Racing Club (Mitch Booth) - 8 points
8. Team GAC Pindar (Nick Moloney) - 3 points

The crew of Edmond de Rothschild Group in Almeria
Yann Guichard - Skipper, helmsman
Pierre Pennec – Mainsail trimmer
Thierry Fouchier – Headsail trimmer
Yves Detrey - Bowman

Extreme Sailing Series Europe