Catamarans Crash at Cowes Week

Posted: August 2, 2010 in boat, boating, sailboat, sailboats, sailing, sailing race, yacht, yacht race, yachting, yachts

Extreme 40 crash

Extreme 40 crash

Catamarans Crash at Cowes Week

There was plenty of dramatic sailing action on Sunday in the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week. 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 would be a long night for the shore team to get them back racing on Monday. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild lodged a protest which the jury would 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 Sunday’s races including the morning offshore race and the five inshore races this afternoon held off Egypt Point. Two wins in the 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.”

Saturday, 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.

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 on Sunday – 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 the 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.

On Monday the sea breeze literally kicked in 60 seconds before the start of the first inshore race 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.

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.

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.
fleet

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!

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