Alex Thomson near Cape Horn (Photo by Alex Thomson / Hugo Boss / Vendée Globe Race )

British solo skipper Alex Thomson had less than 200 miles to make to Cape Horn at 1500hrs UTC this afternoon and should pass the legendary rock in the early hours of Friday morning lying in fourth place in the Vendée Globe solo round the world race.

 

 

Though the skipper of Hugo Boss still has more than one quarter of the course to complete, and the ice strewn passage of the Cape in itself holds considerable danger through the next 24 hours, a successful release from the Pacific Ocean and into the Atlantic will also release many of the demons of past disappointments.

Two failed previous Vendée Globe races and one solo Velux 5 Oceans – when he had to abandon his IMOCA Open 60 in the Indian Ocean – mean that this will be his first Cape Horn alone. That he is in an excellent fourth place in an older generation of design, still in touch with the podium whilst managing an acute on board power shortage is already an enduring endorsement of his skills as a solo sailor.  Thomson has been in power saving mode since he broke a hydrogenerator on December 11th, but plans to speak to Vendée Globe LIVE after his passage.

 

“It will mean a huge amount to Alex tonight. Don’t get me wrong we have not finished yet, but in itself he has got further solo than ever before and passing Cape Horn successfully in fourth will the culmination of 15 years of hard work on his part. This is the last big milestone before the finish and it has been a great race that Alex has sailed. He has worked so hard, as have the whole team over the years, so he deserves this. He has put up with a lot of criticism, negative feelings and back biting over the years, and Alex has thicker skin than most people, but for sure that has hurt him.”

“It has been like in any sport when there is a pressure on a tennis player, a driver or a golfer to perform but Alex will be pleased to have got this far and done so well.”

“Not many skippers will have worked harder. He has done four Transatlantics in six months including setting a new record.”  Comments Stewart Hosford, CEO at Alex Thomson Racing.

Dick gets the full Cape Horn experience
Third into the Atlantic after passing Cape Horn at 0442hrs this morning, Jean-Pierre Dick’s fourth time round the Horn ranked as probably his most difficult. In the pitch black with the ever present threat of ice, with big confused seas which he described as ‘crazy’ and a gusty wind, “….the boat was shaking in every direction.” Said JP on Vendée Globe LIVE this morning, still sounding tired and anxious. “It was a Cape Horn which I passed ‘virtually’ because I was a way off and could see nothing. It was not much of a celebration.”

After François Gabart (Macif) and Armel Le Cléach (Banque Populaire) breached Cape Horn on January 1st there are now three skippers in the Atlantic. The two leaders have been sailing quickly in NW’ ly winds of 25kts. The ascent towards the coast of Brazil will offer a range of opportunties for gains and losses, with a small succession of depressions spinning off the South American coast challenging a substantial dominant high pressure which will more or less block the leaders path.

JP Dick, 337 miles behind the leaders, remains confident he can keep catching Gabart and Le Cléac’h.

 

Buses at Cape Horn?
Cape Horn may be one of the most isolated landmarks on the planet but it will see IMOCA Open 60’s of the Vendée Globe passing like buses over the next two weeks. Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) should pass on Sunday morning, Mike Golding on Gamesa expects to pass late Monday and could have Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud), Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) and Arnaud Boissières (Akéna Verandas)  following closely behind. Compression in to Cape Horn is a normal feature, but one weather routing study has the five boats passing hours rather than days apart. Today less than 300 miles separates sixth Golding from Boissières.

Key to the recent gains have been stronger winds arriving from astern. Dominique Wavre reported today that he is still feeling the effects of a battle with his gennaker .

Behind them the contrast between the fortunes of eleventh placed Bertrand De Broc and twelfth positioned Tanguy De Lamotte are very different. De Broc is set to struggle with a huge high positioned over the next gate, whilst De Lamotte has had 45 knots making life on board Initiatives Coeur.

Bernard Stamm, disqualified yesterday for receiving outside assistance, still holds a hope of a final ranking after submitting a request to have his case reopened.

BERNARD STAMM (Photo by Bernard Stamm / CHEMINEES POUJOULAT / Vendee Globe Race)

 

2012 Vendée Globe Skippers

2012 Vendée Globe Skippers last press conference before race start. (Photo courtesy of 2012 Vendee Globe Race)

• 20 skippers line up in the press conference room
• The magic continues in the Les Sables d’Olonne sunshine
• British skippers relaxed and ready

 

With an audience of more than 200 media, Bruno Retailleau, the President of the Vendée General Council, accompanied by Louis Guédon, the mayor of Les Sables d’Olonne, Patricia Brochard the Co-President of the Sodebo and Denis Horeau, Vendée Globe race director presented the 20 skippers who will take part in the imminent Vendée Globe.

Highlighting how the Vendée Globe race has remained true to its core values, Retailleau emphasized the universally high level of the entries for this edition. “Getting 20 entries on the start line is an unexpected result” He said.
Denis Horeau, Race Director, praised the high quality of the entries, how well prepared the boats are and the professionalism of the teams involved in this 2012-13 edition.
The Mayor Les Sables d’Olonne recalled some of the history of the race while Patricia Brochard of Sodebo praised the entrepreneurship and enterprise which is inherent in each of the IMOCA Open 60 campaigns.

After the formalities the skippers spoke in turn, at once humorous, relaxed and insightful, an uplifting atmosphere before they join each other on the start line on Saturday 13h02 hrs.

The magic continues…..

The Vendée Globe magic continues. As the countdown continues to Saturday’s start of the solo round the world race each new day brings bigger and bigger crowds to Les Sables d’Olonne, to the pontoons where the 20 IMOCA Open 60’s are primed, ready for the emotional dock out. Teams are still refining the small details on board, adding the little luxuries and comforters which can lift the skipper’s mood when times are hard. But at three days before the start the tension is now palpable as the start gun beckons.

There are many skippers who have enjoyed the unique ambiance of the final countdown in Les Sables d’Olonne before. Bertrand de Broc (Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM) was here in 1992 and 1996 and says the passion for ocean racing is still the same. So, also, confirm Dominique Wavre and Mike Golding who are both back for the fourth time. The visitors come from all over Europe. Les Sablais strain at the guardrails on the pontoons to see their local heroes Arnaud Boissières, past winner Vincent Riou and the Italian skipper Alessandro di Benedetto who has adopted Les Sables d’Olonne as his home. There may be favourite solo sailors among the crowds which have queued sometimes for more than one hour to make their pass down the pontoons, but each skipper is offered the same universal respect.

“What is unique about the Vendée Globe is seeing three generations of a family all there to pay respect to the skippers whoever they are and the very strong relationship between the skippers and the public. It surpassed competition. They realise the dangers the skippers face and the fragility of their world. That is the strength of the Vendée Globe.” Said Bruno Retailleau, President of the Vendée Council.

But, for all that, there is also the simple, enjoyable sport of spotting and chasing down skippers for autographs, collecting posters and enjoying the massive Vendée Globe race village which for the last two days has been bathed in warm sunshine.

For the ocean racing cognoscenti the heroes of the sport are widely accessible. Vincent Riou (PRB) and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) have been on their boats regularly. The poster boys, Vendée Globe rookies Louis Burton (Bureau Valley) and François Gabart (Macif) set female hearts aflutter, while the characters who have engaged the race audience in the past, like Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and the race’s only female Samantha Davies (Saveol) who illuminated the 2008-9 race with her effervescent joie de vie, her tenacious spirit and her astute sailing. And the likes of Kito de Pavant appeals to all ages, the laughing cow entertaining the kids, whilst travails of the sanguine skipper from the south of France are well known, not least his heart breaking retirement from the last race, breaking his mast less than 36 hours in.

The British skippers have been impressively relaxed. He had to battle to make the start line last time after his Hugo Boss was hit by a fishing boat on its arrival in Les Sables d’Olonne but at today’s press conference Alex Thomson joked:

“This is my third Vendée Globe and it is the first time I have been ready. The last time I was in Les Sables d’Olonne it was less enjoyable. This has been great fun this time. But we sit up here and take all the glory and go on the boat, but I need to say thank you to my team. If I can put in 50% of the effort they have done then I will get to the finish this time.”

Mike Golding (Gamesa) is more relaxed than he as ever been, now just wanting to get out on to the race course:

“When you’re here the first time you’re full of excitement for the unknown. When you come the second time you’re full of anticipation of what you’re going to achieve and now it’s becoming even more enjoyable as it’s getting closer. The wait to get to the start of the Vendée is very long and when you’ve done it three previous times it’s even longer, sometimes you just want to get on with it. But for all that my motivation is improving not waning.”

Bruno Retailleau: “The Vendée Globe has taken on a more popular dimension in the village. What has impressed me is the capacity and passion of the public. There has not been so much of a queue as a procession. People wait patiently, talking quietly, look at the boats and share the dream. You sense a certain harmony, forming a communion between the event and the public. There is something which develops between the public and the skippers. People want to see them because they are heroes. The concept of the race is so simple that everyone can understand it, you don’t have to be any kind of sailor. I think mostly it is a beautiful, simple story, a legend. It is more than a competition, a race. This is the story of a confrontation between man and nature. Man in a world in which he is fragile faces nature which is big and dangerous. But whether you are French, Brazilian or Japanese you can live this race. And the race is gaining an even more international dimension.”
 
  THEY SAID… 
 
 
 
 
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“These three weeks in Les Sables d’Olonne have been amazing, I have loved it, we do not see this atmosphere anywhere else. ”

Sam Davies, Savéol
“The Vendée Globe is a global race already as we go around the world solo. ”

Tanguy de Lamotte, Initiatives-Coeur
“I wish my 19 rivals three months at sea which are as great as the three weeks before the start! ”

Kito de Pavant, Groupe Bel
  “Team Plastique “I’m really excited to go, we still have a little work, it will be ready in two days …”

Alessandro Di Benedetto
“It is important that each of us enjoy our Vendée Globe and sail safely carefully, because it is a long course. ”  

Mike Golding, Gamesa

Extreme Sailing Series Fleet  (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

Extreme Sailing Series Fleet (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

The beautiful, medieval port of Trapani, on the western coast of Sicily, will play host to the penultimate round of the Extreme Sailing Series™ 2010 in just a few days time. Seven teams will line up on 23 September including local hero Gabriele Bruni with his ‘wildcard’ entry Trapani the Sailing Seacily.

“So far we have raced on the coastal waters of Sète, with its Mistral winds, then Cowes on the Isle of Wight, which challenged the crews with its complex, tidal conditions. At the end of August, Kiel in Germany gave the teams their tightest racecourses where over 60,000 people turned out in the pouring rain – their loyalty was rewarded with some thrilling, close quarter combat,” commented Event Director, Gilles Chiorri.

“And now Trapani, where the courses on the three public-facing race days will see the state of the art catamarans put through their paces inside the narrow confines of the medieval harbour. Not only will it be a spectacle, it will challenge the very best skippers and sailors we have on the circuit.”

French rising star, Yann Guichard, skipper of Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, currently leads the overall Extreme Sailing Series™ leaderboard, having battled his way to the top demonstrating his picture-perfect starts and his team’s impressive boat-handling skills latterly at the last event in Kiel. Guichard, on 22 points, leads by just 2 points ahead of the youngest skipper in the fleet at just 28, Paul Campbell-James and The Wave, Muscat. The all-British Ecover Sailing Team team led by, Vendée Globe star Mike Golding, is in third place one point behind Campbell-James.

Trapani, Sicily

Trapani, Sicily

Gilles Chiorri concluded, “It’s very tight at the top of the leaderboard, with just three points separating the top three boats, it’s all to play for. There isn’t one clear winner in the fleet by far, anything can happen, and the overall 2010 champion will not be decided until the final event in Andalucia.”

The first day of racing on 23 September will see the fleet head out of the harbour for some longer, classic windward/leeward courses before finishing inside the harbour ahead of the official opening ceremony in the evening.

The in-harbour, stadium-style racing in front of the public will start on the afternoon of Friday 24 September for the seven top professional teams. With 48 World Championship titles, 21 Olympics attended, 14 round the World navigations and 19 sailing records amongst them, the pressure is on amongst the teams to prove their mettle.

Mr Mimmo Turano President of the Province of Trapani said, ‘We are very pleased to have concluded this agreement for many years with a major corporation that brings another important event in Trapani for professional sailing teams.
“We are really satisfied for us to see some of the sailors, who have already competed in Trapani in the America’s Cup in 2005, gladly return to the province of Trapani as evidence of good memories that they’ll bring to the event,” he concluded.

Local Sicilian sailing hero and Olympian Gabriele Bruni will skipper the ‘home’ team, Trapani the Sailing Seacily. Bruni, who represented Italy at the Sydney Olympics in the 49er class and along with his brother, Francesco, races with the Italian America’s Cup team Azzurra, will be joined by his fellow Hobie Tiger World Champion Alberto Sonino on the helm, European Lightening and Optimist Champion Mario Noto on the bow and Giuseppe Leonardi will be the Trimmer.

“I’m really happy to be involved in this international event held in the Trapani waters. The best sailors of the world will line-up and I’m sure we’ll enjoy a lot,” commented Bruni. “Our professional crew is proud to race the Extreme Sailing Series onboard Trapani the Sailing Seacily. In the last years we spent a lot of our time racing the monohulls so it is pretty exciting to come back, especially with my old mate Alberto Sonino, to the unique emotions that only the multihulls can provide.”

Trapani is the most Western port town on the Italian island of Sicily. Twinned with the famous French sailing port of Les Sables-d’Olonne, its crystal clear waters provide beautiful sailing and cruising conditions for thousands of sailors every year and its wind conditions are famed for delivering a consistent breeze throughout the year for both cruisers and racers alike. A rich trading centre throughout the early Middle Age, and a halfway point for Tunisia and Africa, Trápani is enjoying a renewed revitalization thanks to the huge salt pans to the south of town.

Gabriele Olivo, trimmer onboard Red Bull Extreme Sailing, was the lone Italian sailor in the circuit up until now. “I’m really looking forward to sailing in Italy and especially in Sicily. Trapani has been proved in the past to be one of the best places in the world for sailing. The crowds will love the event and I’m sure it will prove to be a really popular event and it will be a fantastic week.

“I’m very happy that I won’t be the only Italian in the circuit, like in the other venues, because we are joined by a local boat skippered by Gabriele Bruni. I hope this will help to inspire the Italian sailors to these incredible and extreme races.”

Teams/Skippers entered into the Extreme Sailing Series™ Trapani:

Ecover Sailing Team (GBR) – Mike Golding (GBR)
Groupama 40 (FRA) – Franck Cammas (FRA)
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) – Yann Guichard (FRA)
Oman Sail Masirah (OMA) – Loick Peyron (FRA)
Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – Roman Hagara (AUT)
The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – Paul Campbell-James (GBR)
Trapani the Sailing Seacily (ITA) – Gabriele Bruni (ITA)

Red Bull Sailing Team ( Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

Red Bull Sailing Team ( Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

  

Mike Golding Yacht Racing (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Mike Golding Yacht Racing (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

 Mike Golding wind the Artemis Challenge 2010 claiming the £10,000 charitable donation for the RNLI. The six round-the-world IMOCA 60 racers started the fourth consecutive Artemis Challenge at Cowes Week at 1000 BST today [Tuesday, 3rd August]. Joining the renowned round the world skippers were sporting stars Zara Phillips, Amy Williams, GMTV presenter Emma Crosby and former England rugby international Martin Bayfield as well as the Harry Potter ‘Weasley Twins’, James and Oliver Phelps.

Zara Phillips, racing onboard Artemis Ocean Racing, that finished 3rd overall said at the finish: “There was a really good atmosphere on board, we had a good team and we all worked really well together – it was easy for us as the crew know the boat so well. It’s great to finish on the podium but we thought that because it’s the Artemis Challenge and we’re on Artemis Ocean Racing so we thought let the others get in front!”


The boats set out on the 55-mile course round the Isle of Wight in a light south-westerly breeze and made good headway until coming to a standstill at the eastern point of the island before picking up the sea breeze which built steadily through the afternoon. The IMOCA 60s had a great reach from St Catherine’s to The Needles before hoisting their spinnakers for a high-speed dash to the finish line at the Royal Yacht Squadron. Mike Golding narrowly beat Roland Jourdain on Veolia Environnement by 10 minutes to finish in just under six and a half hours. 

The sporting stars were not on board just for a joy ride and the skippers had them working hard. “Zara and I were a good team on the grinder, we thought we were way better than the boys! It was so tiring though and big respect to all the sailors – to think they sail these boats all on their own around the world is absolutely amazing. It was a great team effort but I still feel like I’m floating around!” said Amy Williams.  Martin Bayfield who crewed for Dee Caffari, the only yachtswoman to have sailed solo around the world in both directions, was also put to work on the grinder although Dee let him steer for a while: “Dee was very gentle and very kind, and very polite about my steering!”

The £10,000 charitable donation by Artemis Investment Management will be made to the RNLI.The Artemis Challenge has become a popular fixture at the UK’s biggest yachting regatta offers a great mix of sporting competition and celebrity glamour. Mike Tyndall, Chief Executive, Artemis Investment Management commented: “It couldn’t have been better Artemis Challenge. After a few years where the wind has been a bit light, we had a proper breeze, almost had a restart halfway through the race when the breeze collapsed, then we had good breeze and a great romp home.”

Position / Entries / skippers / charities:
1st Mike Golding Yacht Racing / Mike Golding / RNLI
2nd Veolia Environnement / Roland Jourdain / Plan
3rd Artemis Ocean Racing / helmsman Simon Hiscocks / Kids Company
4th Gaes Centros Auditivos / Dee Caffari / Toe in the Water
5th VE1 / Ryan Breymaier & Boris Herrman / Chemo Outreach Project
6th Toe in the Water / Steve White / RNLI

After a ‘disastrous’ start to the Artemis Challenge yesterday due to an issue with their spinnaker, British yachtswoman Dee Caffari and her crew aboard GAES Centros Auditivos fought hard from the back of the fleet to secure fourth place in the annual IMOCA 60 sprint around the Isle of Wight. As the first woman to have sailed solo non-stop round the world in both directions, Dee is no stranger to fighting against the odds but was delighted to have assistance on this occasion in the shape of her crew which included former England and Lions lock, Martin Bayfield.

 

On reaching the dock, Dee said:

‘Despite our disappointing start we had some brilliant racing out there and fought really hard with all three of the boats ahead of us.’

 

The fleet initially made good progress on the 55 mile course in a light south westerly breeze giving GAES Centros Auditivos an opportunity to re establish themselves in the race. However, the front runners all came to a standstill at Brembridge Ledge on the eastern point of the island due to a lack of wind. As the sea breeze picked up the crew were forced to tack several times to stay out of the strongest tide as they cleared St Catherine’s Point and it was at this stage that Mike Golding Yacht Racing took the lead and the race positions were established.

 

Dee continued:

‘We had a great sail to the Needles and after our hand break turn back into the Solent we hoisted the spinnaker. The strong winds and good boat speed made for some exciting sailing to the finish, all of which helped hook Martin into a new sport. We are sad that we didn’t win a pot of money for Toe in the Water but everyone onboard had a great time out on the water which is what Cowes Week is all about.’

 

 

©Lloyd Images

 

The Artemis Challenge at Cowes Week was won by Mike Golding aboard Mike Golding Yacht Racing, a close second went to Roland Jourdain on Veolia Environnement with Artemis Ocean Racing skippered by Simon Hiscocks completing the podium. Fourth was Dee Caffari onboard GAES Centros Auditivos with VE1 and Toe in the Water taking fifth and sixth place respectively.

 

Later this year, Dee will be taking part in the Barcelona World Race onboard GAES Centros Auditivos with her Spanish co-skipper, Anna Corbella. They will be the only all-female crew taking part in the race that leaves Barcelona on 31st December 2010.

Franck Cammas and Groupama 40 Crew In The Water After Collision with Boat and Wall ( Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events )

Franck Cammas and Groupama 40 Crew In The Water After Collision with Boat and Wall ( Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events )

There was plenty of dramatic action on day two of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week today. With 18-20 knots of breeze, gusting over 20 at times, the nine teams were racing right on the edge, demanding 100% concentration and a constant rush of adrenalin for both the sailors and the spectators from the near capsizes, near misses and some not so near misses…
 
In race 11 (the fourth inshore race of today), approaching the windward mark Yann Guichard’s Groupe Edmond de Rothschild hit Franck Cammas’ Groupama 40 wiping out both rudders, leaving Groupama with no steerage whatsoever. Groupama 40 were heading straight for the shore at speed and for safety the crew leapt into the water to avoid the impact of hitting the sea wall – deciding they would prefer getting wet than being thrown forward on the boat and potentially injuring themselves. Groupama 40 has sustained both rudder and daggerboard damage and it will be a long night for the shore team to get them back racing tomorrow. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild has lodged a protest which the jury will hear and award redress if relevant.

 

 
Paul Campbell-James, the youngest skipper on the circuit at just 28, ensured The Wave, Muscat finished inside the top four in today’s races including the morning offshore race and the five inshore races this afternoon held off Egypt Point. Two wins this afternoon, two seconds and two third places put them top of the Extreme Sailing Series leaderboard on 85 points: “We got good starts which is a big part of today and we were pushing really hard downwind when we needed to. Sometimes we were so close to capsizing but you have to push it hard at times and back off at others.”

Yesterday, British skipper Mike Golding said he didn’t mind if they didn’t score any ‘bullets’ today, stating finishing inside the top four was more important. But his helm Leigh McMillan and the crew had other ideas – posting a win in the offshore race in the morning, then two further bullets in the penultimate and ultimate race of the day to finish in second place with 80 points. This kept the home crowd, who packed into the Extreme Bar and along the shoreline, happy as they cheered Golding’s crew all the way.

The Wave, Muscat At Cowes Week Extreme 40 Sailing (Photo by Paul Wyeth /  OC Events)

The Wave, Muscat At Cowes Week Extreme 40 Sailing (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events)

All the skippers talk about the importance of consistency but yesterday’s leader Loick Peyron on Oman Sail Masirah found his top form elusive today, only posting a third place in the second race this afternoon which leaves Peyron’s team in third place overall with 74 points – 7 points ahead of Guichard’s team in 4th.

Double Olympic Gold Medalist Roman Hagara had another day of mixed fortunes – one race win and a second place in the penultimate race, keeps them in contention in the middle of the leaderboard in 6th place, five points behind Mitch Booth’s The Ocean Racing Club who did well in this morning’s offshore finishing in second. Another frustrating day for Roland Jourdain’s Veolia Environnement who had rudder problems before the start of the first race then had to drop the mainsail between races to sort out another problem. The team unpracticed in the art of Extreme 40 racing, put a reef in early and raced cautiously throughout the afternoon, although the 1989 Formula 40 World Champion demonstrated why he clinched that title with a couple of great starts.

Extreme Sailing Series At Cowes ( Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

Extreme Sailing Series At Cowes ( Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

 

The opening day of the UK round of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week opened at full throttle delivering some stunning race action to the crowds lining Cowes shoreline at Egypt Point as the nine Extreme 40s took centre stage for five short course races this afternoon.
Newcomers Veolia Environnement had their first extreme drama in the very first race when, just metres after the start in the afternoon, they collided with a mooring bouy ripping the helm out of skipper Roland Jourdain’s hand and breaking the starboard rudder. It put them out of action for the day but Veolia Environnement is anticipated to be back on the start line for tomorrow.

It was Loick Peyron and his crew that put in the most consistent performance of the afternoon starting with a fifth, then three second places and a bullet in the last race to put Oman Sail Masirah at the top of the leaderboard at the end of Day 1 with 46 points: “We work together to keep consistent because that’s what count here. Our objective is to make the top 4 in each race.”

Extreme Sailing Series At Cowes Day One (Photo by Paul Wyeth/ OC Events )

Extreme Sailing Series At Cowes Day One (Photo by Paul Wyeth/ OC Events )

Ecover’s combined local knowledge of the Solent waters put Golding’s team in the running, finishing day 1 in second place on the leaderboard – the best result ever in his second year of campaigning in the Extreme Sailing Series: “The main thing about today is that we loved the win to begin with but the key thing for us was that we were consistent in pretty much every race and really that’s the key to it. If we can be consistent tomorrow and don’t mind if we go the whole day without a bullet so long as we’re consistently doing well in the regatta.

After the offshore morning race from the Royal Yacht Squadron to the mainland at Calshot, won by Mike Golding’s Ecover Sailing Team, the afternoon inshore racing started in earnest. After a gloomy start, the sun kicked in and lit up the race course as a solid 12-18 knots of wind built and the spectators that sat out all afternoon were rewarded for their dedication as the nine Extreme 40s scorched around the very short racecourses, often with their bows down and rudders out drawing gasps and cheers from the public. The short courses and their proximity to the shore combined with the wind ensured the pace was frenetic, forcing plenty of mistakes, keeping the umpires on their toes and the Extreme crews having to think fast on their feet.

Double Olympic Gold Medallist Roman Hagara and his Red Bull Extreme Sailing team came out of the starting blocks on a mission but the conditions proved challenging in more ways than one, as Hagara summed up: “We crashed into a rock in the first race [long offshore], won the second race and will try and forget the rest of the day! One pre-start, one penalty and some mistakes…. We know that we can do it in a better way.”

“It was right on the limit today – the whole racecourse was very, very short and the differences between the front boat and the back boat were minuscule. It’s so easy to lose places and if you make one mistake you can drop three or four places, but you can win it back if you keep your game together. The fact that everything was happening at such a frenetic pace you can’t really think at that pace as there is so much happening, it’s hard to take it all in. It’s lovely here at Cowes – great venue, great shorefront and we can see and hear the people on the shore cheering and yelling, and that’s a great feeling which is unusual in sailing.”

Hot favourites Yann Guichard’s crew on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, found the conditions testing and finished in third place on the leaderboard with 38 points. It make take Guichard’s men a while to get used to the vagaries of The Solent but no one is under-estimating their comeback.

For full results, go to http://www.extremesailingseries.com/results/cowes/

Schedule for Sunday 1 August:

Planned from 12h00 – Moth Demonstrations & Racing
First Extreme 40 start at 3pm off Egypt Point
Daily public prizegiving 5.30pm
Jakey Chan & Wills of Steel 7-11pm Free entry

 

Cowes Action (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

Cowes Action (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

 

Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, Winner of the Extreme Sailing Series Sete, France

Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, Winner of the Extreme Sailing Series Sete, France

 Yann Guichard’s men proved to be unstoppable at the first round of the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series in Sète, France, claiming overall victory and firmly throwing down the gauntlet to the other seven teams for the remainder of the season: “We sailed really well today! On the last race, we had quite a bad start but we managed to find a little gap to go through… As I say often, the most important thing is to stay out of trouble and make less mistakes than the others. I would like to say a huge thank you to my crew because without them, we cannot do anything,” said Guichard. “I managed to put the boat in some pretty scary situations but thanks to them that doesn’t cause any trouble, so a big thank you to them.”

The forecasted Mistral conditions finally kicked in truly entertaining the crowds packed along the Môle, the beaches and the headland – an estimated 16,500 spectators watching the first event. The Extreme 40 crews were pushed to the limit in the strong gusts, teetering on the edge of disaster numerous times.

Second place on the overall podium went to Loick Peyron on Oman Sail Masirah who finished no lower than fourth in any of today’s five races propelling them ahead of Paul Campbell-James’ The Wave, Muscat: “Maybe my experience helped a little in taking second from The Wave, Muscat,” said Peyron, “But it is not just me, it is a team effort and without these guys it would be nothing. ‘CJ’ did a tremendous job and I am very happy, this is exactly what we were looking for to see both teams on the podium – it is a perfect finish. Second was the right place for us – Groupe Edmond de Rothschild were really consistent all event and deserve to win. We are pretty happy with the result, it wasn’t easy but every day was better, sometimes it was very bad but that gives us space to improve for next time.”

Groupama 40 (Photo by Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / OC Events )

Groupama 40 (Photo by Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / OC Events )

Third at the end of the first day of racing, then fourth on the second and third days, Groupama 40 slid down one more place on this last day of racing, following the cancellation of the final race. It’s a cruel blow but Franck Cammas and his crew have their minds on their four race victories out of the 20 contested, as well as the progress they need to make to perform better during the next events. 

The day did in fact start off very well for the Groupama Team on the race zone of Sète, with a second, first, fourth and sixth place during the first four races. At that stage in the race, Groupama 40 was still in with a chance of making the top three as she was just five points shy of The Wave Muscat and had a sizeable lead over Ecover.

Next up, race management announced a further two races in a steadily increasing wind, but Groupama 40 messed up the start of the 20th race. She then managed to get back into the action, before being forced to make a last chance manoeuvre to respect the rules of priority with another boat on the final upwind leg. After having to come to a complete standstill, Franck and his crew dug deep to catch up with the backrunners, before being blocked again as they tried to round the mark. They ultimately crossed the finish line in last position, whilst their direct rival Ecover, won the race. As such Groupama 40 lost all the advantage gained over her very good opening races.

After putting in a reef for what was set to be the final race, which counts for double points, Franck Cammas and his crew prepared to give it their all to get past Ecover and hang onto her fourth place in the overall ranking.

However, that’s where their luck ran out as the race committee decided not to take any chances in a wind which could have peaked at as much as 30 knots late in the day. As a result their previous result came back to haunt them as their last place now counted for double, enabling Ecover to get ahead of Groupama 40 in the overall ranking, without even having to race.

Back alongside, Franck Cammas and his crew were clearly disappointed by the outcome: “It’s a shame because we hadn’t sailed badly and we were making steady progress over each of the twenty races contested” but they were nonetheless realistic: “The top two, Groupe Edmond de Rothshild and Oman Masirah are a notch better than us. If we want to be in a position to beat them during the next races, we’re going to have to get off to some better starts and be more consistent. That’s the strength they have right now” explained the skipper of Groupama 40.

Keenly followed by the vast number of spectators thronging around the Saint Louis jetty, especially on Sunday, this first event in the Extreme Sailing Series in Sète has been a great success with some very fine winners, who didn’t let the top spot slip away from them throughout the four days of racing.

His team is now dismantling Groupama 40, so as he can join up with her again in Lorient and then Cowes, where the next event will be held at the start of August. Meanwhile Franck Cammas will get back to the rest of his Team in Lorient to assist them with the relaunch of the maxi trimaran Groupama 3, the recent winner of the Jules Verne Trophy, aboard which he will compete in the next edition of the Route du Rhum – La Banque Postale. 

Extreme 40 Fleet In Sete, France (Photo by Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / OC Events )

Extreme 40 Fleet In Sete, France (Photo by Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / OC Events )

 

Groupama 40 (Photo by Vincent Curutchet/ DPPI/ OC Events)

Groupama 40 (Photo by Vincent Curutchet/ DPPI/ OC Events)

At the penultimate day of racing at the first round of the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series in Sète, France, three teams are taking control at the top of the leaderboard. A jib sheet problem for Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and a penalty dealt Guichard’s men a last place in the final race, but they had done enough to keep their lead and there seem to be very few cracks in their armour. “We started off really well, then had a couple of less than good starts and in those conditions it becomes hard to catch up. Overall we’ve done good things but at times we did not shine, yet we still retain our first place and tomorrow we’ll try and stay on the podium!” said Guichard. Oman Sail Masirah’s convincing victory in the final race keeps Loick Peyron in third behind Paul Campbell-James’ team on The Wave, Muscat in second. Only 4 points separate each of the top three teams going into the final day tomorrow.

Extreme Sailing Series Europe (Photo by Vincent Curutchet/DPPI/OC Events )

Extreme Sailing Series Europe (Photo by Vincent Curutchet/DPPI/OC Events )

Plenty of close combat resulted in a number of penalties and collisions. The winds shifts proved costly for many, at the same time the stronger gusts gave the crowds what they love – massive acceleration and flying hulls.

Another great battle is developing mid-leaderboard with Franck Cammas in 4th place on 66 points, Red Bull Extreme Sailing 5th on 60 points, then The Ocean Racing Club and Ecover, 6th and 7th, on 59 points apiece. Ecover helmsman, Leigh McMillan, did a fantastic job in the early races, getting Ecover right in the mix at the front but the team’s fortunes did not continue: “Probably a little bit disappointed because we started the day really well, we got three seconds and were winning at one point, and then the breeze got up, we started to struggle a bit and our strategies off the start just really weren’t paying off,” said McMillan. “We weren’t picking the right shifts off the line and we got thoroughly punished. We had a few close port and starboards which was a difference between us getting round in the second or third or last because we had to do some slow double tacks at windward mark so that set us back massively as well. On these boats the margins are so small and it is all so close that a matter of metres can make the difference between the first and last sometimes.” Nick Moloney’s crew on Team GAC Pindar had their best result of this regatta with a second place in the fourth race today but remain bottom of the leaderboard on 39 points.

Muscat The Wave Getting Some Air (Photo by

Muscat The Wave Getting Some Air (Photo by

Perhaps the surprise act for many of the European regulars is Britain’s Paul Campbell-James, skipper of The Wave, Muscat. His 49er and match racing expertise, and youngest skipper in the fleet, makes him a formidable opponent and he is putting pressure on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and Oman Sail Masirah at every opportunity he can get, whittling down Yann Guichard’s 8-point lead of yesterday to just 4 points at the end of play today. His aggressive style can lead to repercussions as we saw in race 3 today – after being denied a penalty call Campbell-James tried to get passed Loick Peyron, jostling for position on the short downwind leg resulting in ramming Masirah from behind!

You can watch all the video action from day 3 HERE

2010 Extreme Sailing Series Sete France (Photo by Juerg Kaufman / go4image.com )

2010 Extreme Sailing Series Sete France (Photo by Juerg Kaufman / go4image.com )