Powerful French trio
Winner of two of the six events on the 2009 circuit (Venice and Amsterdam), the Extreme 40 racing under the colours of Baron Benjamin de Rothschild will be again helmed by Yann Guichard this year but renamed from Gitana to Groupe Edmond de Rothschild. Guichard will be looking to improve on his second place overall in 2009, three points behind the overall winners, Oman Sail's Masirah.
"2009 was the year we discovered the Extreme Sailing Series and the style of Extreme 40 regattas: the notion of sport as a spectacle! We soon learned that consistency pays and to perform well in this series and to post good results, you need to sail really well and not have any on-the-water contact with your competitors," states Guichard. "The Extreme Sailing Series is a good school to learn self-control. I really like the intensity of the regattas, the shot of adrenalin you get. In an Extreme 40, racing is never clear cut and it isn't over until you cross the finish line.
"I find this format totally motivating and interesting and it allows me to grow as a sailor. Second in 2009, we are aiming to have Groupe Edmond de Rothschild on the top of the podium this year. And that's not forgetting our team's main objective this year: the Route de Rhum with Gitana 11."
Also on the circuit this year is his Route de Rhum competitor, another favourite for the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series Europe title, Franck Cammas, who recently claimed the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest, non-stop lap of the world.
"We've spent the winter attempting the Jules Verne Trophy with an amazing team aboard Groupama 3, so Groupama 40 looks pretty small! But we like these close-quarter regattas. Our business is all about sailing so, big or small, in a team, or alone, it's not important. It's all about the sailing."
Cammas will be joined onboard Groupama 40 by his regular team mates Tanguy Cariou, as tactician with whom he has won a number of titles on the ORMA 60 multihull circuit, as well as two new team members for the first leg in Sète: "For the first event on the 2010 circuit, we have modified the team with the arrival of Christophe Espangnon and Devan Le Bihan. With Tanguy Cariou as the tactican we have a great team. Whether it is enough to win against Oman Sail Masirah or Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, both of which shone last year, I don't know. But we have been training and preparing for Sète with the same determination as all our other projects. The format and situation in the city will be great with the racing so close to the public and Sète also has the America's Cup history. It promises to be a great event."
The third French skipper joining the circuit this year is Loick Peyron, a sailor with the most titles in the history of multihull sailing are unsurpassed and who recently returned from Valencia having been shotgun helmsman for Ernesto Bertarelli on Alinghi 5 in the 33rd America's Cup.
Peyron will be helming the winning boat of 2009, Oman Sail Masirah with no change to the rest of the team. Mark Bulkeley, who represented Great Britain in the Tornado in Athens will stay in his role of mainsail trimmer and tactician; America's Cup sailor David 'Freddie' Carr, one of the most experienced in the Extreme 40, will use his knowledge at the front of the boat as bowman while Pete Cumming, the skipper in 2009, will this year be the trimmer and overall sailing team manager for Oman Sail Masirah. After a winter of training in the Sultanate, the Oman Sail Masirah team will be hoping their experience and close teamwork will be a force to be reckoned with in 2010.
With just one month to go until the first vent, the pressure is increasing for the teams, and for organisers, OC Events. "Sète is a new venue for us, so a new challenge," commented OC Events Director Gilles Chiorri. "We have great support from the municipality, the Port de Sète as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Societe Nautique de Sète [Sailing Club of Sète]. The courses will be directly in front of the harbour walls so the public will have the perfect viewpoint, with all the action being played out right at their feet. It will be a unique spectacle," he concluded.
The 2010 Calendar is as follows
27 - 30 May: Sète, France
31 July - 5 August: Cowes, UK
26 - 29 August: Kiel, Germany
23 - 26 September: Trapani, Italy
9 - 12 October: Almería, Spain