Loïck Peyron’s French crew is back in business. Last night, they grabbed a fine third place in the fourth fleet race in the World Series in San Francisco and move up one place in the rankings (6th). The four-times Olympic champion, Ben Ainslie wiped out the opposition for the second day running.
Fleet Race 3
Once again, there was a strong current, around 12 knots of wind and that magnificent backdrop of San Francico Bay … the start of the third fleet race in these Californian waters took place in excellent conditions on Friday afternoon local time (during the night in Europe). A fantastic sight viewed by thousands of spectators lined up on the waterfront and also by the American Air Force Blue Angels. The fleet all set off together, but Energy Team was hemmed in by China Team at the end of the line and was a boat length behind. At the first mark, the French were in eighth place, as J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) and Artemis Racing White (Terry Hutchinson) were already way out in front. Once again Loïck Peyron and his men had to work hard to get back in the game. They quickly moved up two places (to be in sixth position), before dropping back again on the downwind leg… but then moved back up one spot again. Energy Team ended up in seventh place, just as in the second race the previous day. Ben Ainslie was once again the winner after a duel with Terry Hutchinson, while Luna Rossa Piranha (Chris Draper) took the final place on the podium.
Fleet Race 4
A good start for the first time this week for the French team. Moving off quickly at the end of the line, Energy Team rounded the first mark in third place. Loïck Peryon set off on the right-hand side of the course and really set the spray flying rounding the second gate almost level with the leader Hutchinson with Ben Ainslie (of course!) just behind followed by the eight other AC45s. The fight was on and it was magnificent. For a long time, Energy Team resisted the pressure from the men that are clearly on great form at the moment: Ben Ainslie and Terry Hutchinson. Showing inspiration and achieving good speeds, the French were up there with the frontrunners throughout the race moving between second and third place. But Artemis and J.P. Morgan BAR were just too good. On the final legs, Loïck Peyron played around on the boundary limits limiting the number of manoeuvres in order to keep his rivals in check. He pulled that off: with Hutchinson winning ahead of Ainslie (the reverse of what happened in the first race), Energy Team took a fine third place, meaning they had made it to the podium for the first time in this second Californian Act of the World Series. As he crossed the line, Loïck Peyron was able to congratulate his crew: “That’s great, lads!“Yes, great, as it gives them a confidence boost and allows them to move up one place in the overall rankings on equal points with Russell Coutts. So anything is still possible with three fleet races left to go: two tonight and then the big final on “Super Sunday”.
What they said
Arnaud Jarlegan, headsail trimmer on Energy Team: “After a very decent start, we picked up the speed and were well positioned in relation to the wind and our rivals. That enabled us to round the leeward gate out in front. After that, we found ourselves in a tough fight with Artemis Racing and Ben Ainslie Racing. Now we want to stay on top of things for the final race on Sunday, which is the one that counts most…”
Fleet rankings after 4 races out of 7:
1. J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) 1-3-1-2 – 43 points
2. Artemis Racing – White (Terry Hutchinson) 10-2-2-1 – 34
3. Artemis Racing – Red (Nathan Outteridge) 4-4-4-4 – 32
4. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (Jimmy Spithill) 8-1-6-5 – 29
5. Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) 2-8-5-6 – 27
6. Energy Team (Loick Peyron) 6-7-7-3 – 25
7. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS (Russell Coutts) 3-5-8-7 – 25
8. Luna Rossa Piranha (Chris Draper) 9-6-3-10 – 20
9. Team Korea (Peter Burling) 5-9-10-8 – 16
10. China Team (Phil Robertson) 7-10-11-9 – 11
11. Luna Rossa Swordfish (Iker Martinez) 11-11-9-11 – 6
Energy Team crew in San Francisco:
Loïck Peyron (helmsman), Arnaud Psarofaghis (wing), Devan Le Bihan (trimmer), Arnaud Jarlegan (trimmer), Christophe André (bowman)