After seventeen races, most of which were contested in a light breeze, Yann Guichard and his Gitana Extreme  crew have won the first event of the 2009 iShares Cup circuit, a victory which bodes well for the rest of the events for the new Gitana Extreme 40 catamaran sailing team.

Extreme 40 catamarans sailing

Extreme 40 catamarans sailing

Right from the initial training races on Thursday, Yann Guichard’s men showed their rivals that they were a force to be reckoned with. During the three days of racing, contested just a stone’s throw from the famous “Piazza San Marco”, the crew of Gitana Extreme continued to race at the front of the fleet and this consistency today enabled them to take a deserved first place.

The first meeting, the first participation and the first victory: the equation may appear simple but the men aboard the one-design, equipped by Baron Bejamin de Rothschild, had to hunt down the first success amongst some high class competition. Indeed, this latest performance has seen them more than stand their ground in front of some well known and recognised helmsmen, including James Spithill, who is none other than the future helmsman from the US challenge for the America’s Cup, and Loïck Peyron. On his return to shore, the skipper of Gitana Extreme couldn’t conceal his satisfaction: “It’s great! We were keen to be in Venice and race so as we could find out what level we’re at. This initial victory is a real joy for the whole crew, as well as for the members of Gitana Team who have carefully prepared the boat since its arrival in La Trinité-sur-Mer at the start of March.” He also assessed his crew’s assets, which set them apart from their rivals on the Venetian race zone: “Our success has a lot to do with our very good starts. This initial ranking very often guides the next stage in the match and the crew showed total symbiosis during these phases. After that you know what they say: speed breeds intelligence and vice versa, and when you cross the line in the lead it’s always more comfortable!”

The youth of the crew and their recent association – they began sailing together less than three months ago – could have meant that a few races were set aside for observation but this didn’t prove necessary. In fact, in his statement, Yann Guichard wanted to salute the team work and the excellent atmosphere reigning aboard the Gitana Extreme: “I’ve talked about it a great deal over the past three days but the cohesion of the crew was essential in our victory. The pressure on me is huge as they are the kinds of races where there is permanent contact and it’s also highly physical for my three crew as the stream of manœuvres is incessant. I am very happy to be sailing with these three sailors”.

The next meet for the ten Extreme 40’s competing in the 2009 circuit will take place in the south of France. Hyères will play host to the second event of the season from 3rd to 5th July 2009. For this race, the crew of Gitana Extreme – LCF Rothschild Group will be considerably modified as Hervé Cunningham, registered to participate in another race, will be temporarily replaced. Questioned about this upcoming meet, Yann Guichard remained lucid: “We’re not starting from scratch as this victory has given us a lot of confidence, but Hyères will be another race, with another race zone where I think we’ll benefit from a steadier breeze.”

Crew of Gitana Extreme
Yann Guichard (skipper-helmsman)
Pierre Pennec (mainsail traveller trimmer, tactics), Christophe Lassegue (headsail trimmer, control of manœuvres) and Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer, control of manœuvres)

iShares Cup Rankings

  • 1/ Gitana Extreme- LCF Rothschild Group (Yann GUICHARD) – 140 points
  • 2/ BMW Oracle Racing (James Spithill) – 120 points
  • 3/ Oman Sail Renaissance (Loïck Peyron) – 113 points
  • 4/ Oman Sail Masirah (Pete Cumming) – 111 points
  • 5/ Groupama 40 (Gildas Philippe) – 102 points
  • 6/ BT (Nick Moloney) – 97 points
  • 7/ Luna (Erik Maris) – 88 points
  • 8/ Holmatro (Carolijn Brouwer) – 84 points
  • 9/ iShares – Shirley Robertson – 84 points
  • 10/ Ecover – Mike Golding – 48 points

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