Archive | Extreme Sailing Series

Alinghi crowned 2014 & Sydney champions in the best day’s racing of the year

Posted on 14 December 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source:Extreme Sailing Series™] It is mission accomplished for Ernesto Bertarelli’s Swiss team Alinghi, as Morgan Larson and the team grabbed victory with both hands at Act 8 Sydney, presented by Land Rover, and with it the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series™ title – and Larson’s words say it all: “We’ve had an amazing season with an amazing team. To win the season and the Act on the last day in the conditions we had here in Sydney, which is the best sailing venue in the world, is a special moment that’s going to take a long time to sink in. The level of confidence that we have on our boat just made me realise I can win anything with these guys. This is the best feeling I’ve had all year and probably in the whole of my sailing career, so I’m going to cherish it.”

With the breeze cranking around Sydney Harbour at 15 knots and the brilliant Aussie sun beating down, racing was as good as it gets and the thousands of spectators witnessed not only the best racing of the year, but also a capsize for their home team GAC Pindar in the sixth race of the day, when damage to their rudders following a collision caused them to lose control of their Extreme 40. Coming into the Act, Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey and Anna Tunnicliffe, were the hot favourites to win the Series – with four Act wins already under their belts and having never finished worse than third – they just had to play it safe and finish sixth or above.

Locals watch Alinghi take both the Act and Series win on the final day of racing in the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series in Sydney Harbour, Australia. LloydImages

Locals watch Alinghi take both the Act and Series win on the final day of racing in the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series in Sydney Harbour, Australia. LloydImages

Comfortable going into the final double points race of the Series victory, winning the Act was the challenge, and Leigh McMillan and his team on The Wave, Muscat came into battle determined, flexing their muscles and giving it their all. Solid boat handling throughout the day meant the Act was almost theirs, denied only by the final double pointer, and the two-times Series winning skipper picking up second in Sydney, and in 2014. “It didn’t go how we wanted, but it’s been a great season and a fantastic effort by the whole team – the shore team, our coach and the crew. It hasn’t been easy, we had to dig deep on many occasion this year and Alinghi were just to good for us. They are relentless and were more consistent. Focused on this event, it’s been fantastic. It’s great to be part of it and beating a lot of the best guys in the sport. We’ll be back next year, and absolutely fighting for the win. He got the jump this year, we will try and take it back next year.”

In their second year on the circuit, Realteam have proved themselves a force to be reckoned with, and today’s battle for third in Sydney was between them, J.P. Morgan BAR and Oman Air. Tagged the ‘light air specialists’, Jerome Clerc and his team proved they are much more than that, and four race wins in Sydney and a consistent set of results secured them not only third place Down Under – but third place in 2014. “It has been an incredible season for us. What we have achieved this year is huge. We were the rookies of the circuit and this result just shows what an amazing year we have had. It has been great to sail on this racecourse in Sydney, the conditions were perfect and this podium just makes all our hard work worth while.”

The Wave, Muscat gave it their all on the final day taking two races wins, but settled for second position on the Act and Series leaderboards. LloydImages

The Wave, Muscat gave it their all on the final day taking two races wins, but settled for second position on the Act and Series leaderboards. LloydImages

Sailing with the confidence of a man who has been racing in the circuit for years, Tom Slingsby was unstoppable today. An extraordinary performance by him and the team on Oman Air saw them clock up 70 points from a possible 90 today, and they were the fastest average team on the water according to the SAP Sailing analytics, helping them on their way to fourth place in Sydney – no doubt turning a few heads amongst the more experienced fleet as well as receiving the biggest cheers from their home crowd.

For Slingsby’s fellow country man and Olympic champion Nathan Wilmot, their regatta was cut short following a collision with Realteam as the Aussies tried to cross in front of the Swiss, misjudged it and got their port rudder knocked off, leaving them without steering and no control of the boat, resulting in the capsize. Wilmot, who won Olympic gold in 2008 in the 470 class was disappointed to have his event cut short. “We were hit hard, with the impact just ripping off the rudder and then the capsize was imminent but everyone is fine. It’s a disappointing end to the week for us but it’s been incredible sailing on Sydney Harbour and we’ve enjoyed all the support from our home fans”.
Sydney joins a list of spectacular and iconic locations as an Extreme Sailing Series Host Venue, that this year has included a whirlwind tour of the globe taking in Singapore, Muscat (Oman), Qingdao (China), Saint Petersburg (Russia), Cardiff (UK), Istanbul (Turkey) and Nice on the French Riviera. 11 top international teams have battled in one of the most hard-fought Series to date, with five of them claiming podium positions throughout the year.

GAC Pindar capsized their Extreme 40 in race 24 on their home waters in Sydney, Australia. LloydImage

GAC Pindar capsized their Extreme 40 in race 24 on their home waters in Sydney, Australia. LloydImage

The eighth season of the Extreme Sailing Series comes to a close after 231 races, with the 2015 global tour confirmed to kick start in just over seven weeks, in Singapore – the first of eight Host Venues for this pioneering Stadium Racing circuit, that gets better ever year.

Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 8 Sydney presented by Land Rover standings after Day 4, 26 races (14.12.14)
Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand,Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 189 points.
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 177 points.
3rd Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wasem 168 points.
4th Oman Air (OMA) Tom Slingsby, Ted Hackney, Kyle Langford, Joey Newton, Ali Al Balashi 157 points.
5th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Campbell-James, Bleddyn Mon, Matt Cornwell 156 points.
6th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Shaun Mason, Stewart Dodson 151 points.
7th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Christian Kamp, Brad Farrand 145 points.
8th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Matt Adams, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 143 points.
9th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Tanguy Cariou, Romain Motteau, Thierry Fouchier, Hervé Cunningham 124 points.
10th GAC Pindar (AUS) Nathan Wilmot, Seve Jarvin, Matt Mitchell, Tyson Lamond, James Wierzbowski 90 points.

Extreme Sailing Series™ 2014 overall standings
Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) 85 points.
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 75 points.
3rd Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 61 points.
4th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 49 points.
5th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 49 points.
6th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 40 points.
7th Oman Air (OMA) 38 points.
8th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 36 points.
9th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 30 points.
10th Groupama sailing team (FRA) 26 points.
11th GAC Pindar (AUS) 13 points.

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Advantage Alinghi – but Sydney & Series podium places still open

Posted on 13 December 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Extreme Sailing Series] It was an action-packed, full pressure day on Sydney Harbour for the Extreme 40s at the penultimate day’s racing of the 2014 global tour, where the grudge match between Alinghi and The Wave, Muscat was rife. Two race wins for the Swiss to the Omanis one, means it’s advantage Alinghi as they head into tomorrow’s final day – with their fellow countrymen Realteam in second place and The Wave, Muscat just two points back in third. Cool as ever, Larson commented: “We came out fighting and feel like we got hold of the event again. There’s still one more day to go and I think history has proven that things can get shaken up pretty quick so we’ve got to keep the focus on the win. It’s the end of the season, it’s been a long year, but now’s the time to sail at the highest level we can.”

The double-defending champions on The Wave, Muscat have to win in Sydney and Alinghi has to be sixth or worse for the British Olympian McMillan and his team to make it a hatrick of Series wins – a tough but not impossible ask. The team’s tactician Sarah Ayton, who sailed at the Sydney Olympic Games as a training partner before going onto compete and win gold at the 2004 and 2008 Games, commented: “If there was an opportunity to make it difficult for Alinghi today then you would take it, but there’s a lot of racing and you still very much have to do your own thing, and that’s what we were doing. We have a lot to do, and we’ll almost have to put the pressure on to Alinghi tomorrow and let them make the mistakes.”

Alinghi charge across the Sydney racecourse on the second day in Australia. LloydImages

Alinghi charge across the Sydney racecourse on the second day in Australia. LloydImages

Every podium place is still open at Act 8 Sydney presented by Land Rover – but with 20 points up for the taking for the Act win, the implications on the Series leaderboard are huge. Ben Ainslie and J.P. Morgan BAR will be hoping they can mount a late charge and clinch a podium place – in their way are Realteam, in pursuit of their first ever Act win to secure their position. For skipper Jerome Clerc, the team’s performance so far this year has exceeded his expectations: “It would be great for the team to finish on the podium. This was not our main target at the beginning of the year; we just wanted to get a podium on one of the venues. But if we are on the podium on Sunday, it would be a great victory. We have come a long way but I think now we are now sailing at our best.”

The Wave, Muscat on 13th Dec in Sydney. LloydImages

The Wave, Muscat on 13th Dec in Sydney. LloydImages

 

Softening but no less testing conditions caused a shuffle on the leaderboard, with five different teams claiming maximum points (10) in the eight races sailed. J.P Morgan BAR started the day on the back foot, when Realteam slammed into their back beam during the tight windward mark rounding, knocking out their rudders and the team out of the following three races. A points redress for the team limited the damage ahead of tomorrow’s final day and the Brits are five points ahead of a seemingly revitalized SAP Extreme Sailing Team. The Danes found some of their best form of the season with an impressive four second place finishes elevating the team to fourth from seventh place at the beginning of the day. Co-skipper Jes Gram Hansen is looking to finish the season on a high. “Our speed is good, the crew handling is good, it’s a tricky place to sail but overall the day was pretty good for us. We hope we can finish the season with a good regatta here in Sydney. It’s been a difficult year for us, that’s no secret. So it will mean a lot for our progression for next year if we sail well here.”

It was also an impressive day by GAC Pindar, whose skipper Nathan Wilmot also celebrated his 35th birthday today. Two race wins from the boys from Down Under was impressive, but not as impressive as his former Australian Olympic team mate Tom Slingsby on Oman Air, who was rarely out of the top three. The Omani team finish the day in seventh place, four points ahead of Phil Robertson and Gazprom Team Russia, who lead GAC Pindar by another four points, with Groupama sailing team languishing in tenth.

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Racing cancelled at Extreme Sailing Series™ in Sydney

Posted on 11 December 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source:Extreme Sailing Series™] Wet, wild and windy conditions forced Race Management to cancel the first day of racing on Sydney Harbour at the Extreme Sailing Series™ presented by Land Rover, with the city’s famous ‘Southerly Buster’ playing havoc on the racecourse before the fleet even left the dock. It is only third time in this history of the Series mother nature has forced the organisers to cancel racing, and the first day of racing missed this year. The 10 elite level teams will have to wait another day before the final showdown of the 2014 season begins.

As Race Director Phil Lawrence explained, the unmanageable conditions coincided with the anticipated start of racing and the strong wind showed no signs of abating. “Unfortunately the weather forecast was very accurate. As predicted the breeze built to over 30 knots at the scheduled start time. The very experienced Extreme 40 sailor Mitch Booth was on the water with the Land Rover Extreme 40 beforehand, and he confirmed it was quickly building and too gusty for the boats to race safely. Tomorrow the conditions look lighter, so hopefully we can get this show on the road.”

With the breeze building to 45 knots along the coast, Australia’s 2008 Olympic champion in the 470 class and GAC Pindar skipper Nathan Wilmot agreed with the decision: “I think it’s the right decision; it would have carnage had we gone out. It’s a bit of a shame not to get out on the first day but it is only the first day of the regatta so we would all look a bit silly if we went out there and capsized, broke masts and no one was able to go out tomorrow”. Looking to the week ahead, Nathan continued: “We’re going to try and get around the course as safe as possible, be up there and mix it up with the top guys and hopefully hit towards the top of the leaderboard by the end of the regatta.”

Three more days of racing remain at the Extreme Sailing Series in Sydney, and three more days of the 2014 season, and with the conditions expected to subside enough tomorrow to begin racing, the teams are gearing up for plenty of action.

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Morgan Larson has one hand on the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series trophy after Alinghi snatch victory in Nice

Posted on 06 October 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Extreme Sailing Series] Morgan Larson and the Swiss team Alinghi snatched victory from the hands of their fellow countrymen Realteam in the final race at the Extreme Sailing Series in Nice, to take victory on French waters in front of thousands of spectators – and with that they now have one hand firmly placed on the 2014 Series trophy. With only one Act to go this year, Alinghi have extended their lead at the top of the Series leaderboard to eight points over The Wave, Muscat, but with 20 points up for the taking in Sydney, and five teams capable of a podium position, it’s not over until it’s over, and as Larson commented, it is just getting harder and harder to win races. “We were confident at the start of the year that we had a little bit of an edge, but now the rest of the field are showing some real force. I think now you are seeing the future. More than half the fleet have the ability to win an event, and that’s exactly what we’re going to see going into Sydney. That event is going to be worth double points, and if we go out with a bad performance and The Wave, Muscat or Emirates Team New Zealand come in with a strong one – we’re going to lose. So we’ve got to go out and try and get back on the podium.”

Alinghi’s biggest Series rivals The Wave, Muscat needed to pull something special out of the bag today after starting in eleventh. The team showed early signs of recovery, winning two of the first four races, but Leigh McMillan and the teams hopes were dashed when a penalty took him from third to last in race five, from which they never recovered, to finish the regatta in eighth. “We said we would push hard, we did and we won some races. We’ve really learnt from these lessons”, commented a pragmatic McMillan. “We’ve had a pretty good run for the last two and a half years and it’s only a matter of time before you slip up and make mistakes. You learn from those, and we’ll be going into Sydney very much looking to win.”

Alinghi are one step closer to the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series championship title. Nice, 5 October 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Realteam, who led for the first two days in Nice, have been impressive on the French Riviera but couldn’t quite hold off the more experienced Alinghi. The Swiss team, who has improved Act by Act this year, took second overall, matching their season best from Act 3, Qingdao, which skipper Jerome Clerc was satisfied with. “We are really happy to finish second on this Act. We sailed very well today but unfortunately we did very badly on the last race which counts double and is key to win. But this is part of the game; we are a young team compared to Alinghi which has a strong experience on this kind of Stadium Racing. Everything remains open for the last Act of Sydney where points count for double, so I am sure it will be a fierce battle.”

J.P. Morgan BAR had their strategy sussed today, using the same tactics in every race start to come off the pin end of the line, and their persistence paid dividends. The Brits, led by four-times Olympic champion Ben Ainslie, scored two race wins and fifth place in the final race of the day was enough to finish in third overall – their second podium position of the year. “It was another really tough day here, as they all have been, with the winds changing a lot and the tough competition. But we seemed to find our feet a little bit more and get a good solid set of results together and finish on the podium so we are really happy with that”, said Ainslie. “It’s been challenging for all the teams but for us it’s been really good in a number of ways, we have worked on a different areas and we are happy with how we developed through the week.”

Seven races were sailed on the final day, with 29 in total over four days, and the threatening thunderstorm played havoc with the breeze, causing big shifts that meant mistakes were punished hard. The Austrians on Red Bull Sailing Team were unphased, and had great upwind speed today, which propelled them up the leaderboard from eighth at the start of the day to fourth overall, just missing out on their first podium position of the year by one point. Summing up the team’s week, the teams skipper Roman Hagara commented: “It’s very good for the team. We were improving over the last couple of days so I think it’s good motivation for the last event, and we know we can do it, which is really good. It was a tough start for us, we had our heads down on the first and second day and we just thought: this is not how we want to perform here. On the first day we struggled in the light winds, so we changed tactics each day and it just got better and better and in the end it worked out really well for us. It’s just little improvements but it really helps.”

Emirates Team New Zealand came home a respectable fifth place, which has secured them third on the overall Series rankings place heading to Sydney, while GAC Pindar secured their best result of the year, finishing in sixth place.

In seventh was SAP Extreme Sailing Team, who have steadily improved as the week has progressed to finish in seventh, with the home favourite Groupama sailing team finishing in ninth, and tied with The Wave, Muscat. Rob Greenhalgh’s Oman Air finished in tenth, with Phil Robertson and Gazprom Team Russia bringing up the rear, who struggled to replicate their early regatta form.

Only four days of racing are left this year with mathematically five teams: Alinghi, The Wave, Muscat, Emirates Team New Zealand, Realteam and J.P. Morgan BAR, capable of a podium position as the fleet head Down Under to Sydney, Australia for the final Act of the year. The fleet will race on one of the world’s most famous waterfronts in the heart of Sydney, with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge providing the iconic backdrop. Over 30 races are left to decide the 2014 Series champion and only one thing is for sure; it is going to go down to the wire!

Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 7 Nice standings after Day 4, 29 races (5.10.14)
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 183 points.
2nd Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wasem 171 points.
3rd J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Campbell-James, Bleddyn Mon, Matt Cornwell 161 points.
4th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Thomas Cjakgak, Stewart Dodson 160 points.
5th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Peter Burling, Glenn Ashby, Blair Tuke, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 156 points.
6th GAC Pindar (AUS) Nathan Wilmot, Seve Jarvin, Hugh Styles, Tyson Lamond, James Wierzbowski 146 points.
7th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Christian Kamp, Brad Farrand 145 points.
8th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 143 points.
9th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Tanguy Cariou, Valentin Bellet, Arnaud Jarlegan, Devan Le Bihan 143 points.
10th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Ted Hackney, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 138 points.
11th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 133 points.

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A day to forget for The Wave, Muscat in Nice

Posted on 04 October 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Extreme Sailing Series] The third day of racing on the French Riviera for the Extreme 40s could prove to be one of the most defining days of the whole 2014 season, with the leaderboard well and truly blown open. There were plenty of movers and shakers in the rankings, but the most significant moves came from Alinghi, who came to Nice with a slender one-point lead in the Series rankings, between them and the team challenging them for the season title, The Wave, Muscat. The Swiss took an impressive 54 points from a possible 70, while the Omanis could only add 21 to their tally, and the result: Alinghi lead, The Wave, Muscat last going into tomorrow’s final showdown, leaving The Wave, Muscat now planning their damage limitation strategy.

Explaining what worked for them today, Morgan Larson commented: “Sometimes in the light air, if you just focus on your positioning, your tactics and your starts and ignore the other boats – it works. That was our strategy this morning; ignore the other boats. I know I keep my loose eye on The Wave, Muscat all the time, and the team remind me to just sail the boat well, and we did that – which in turn will put the pressure on them. It’s working, but there’s still a lot of races to go.”

For the defending champions from Oman it was a day of sailing they will want to forget. But while the team are down, they are by no means out and when the pressure is on, Leigh McMillan has more then enough ability to rise to the challenge and bounce back, which the team’s tactician Sarah Ayton was positive about: “It was a really tough day – the conditions were such that if you had a good start then you could lead either into the left or into the right and that’s were the gains were. As a team we are solid, our roles, routines, the synergy on the boat is good – so we’ll just take a bit of time to reflect on our performance and have another go tomorrow.”

Realteam, who have led the regatta since day one, did well to maintain their podium position and head into tomorrow in second place, just 10 points behind Alinghi, and three ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand, somewhat to the relief of Skipper Jérôme Clerc. “It was a tough day for us, we are surprised by the overall standings because we didn’t think we had a good day. The plan of attack for tomorrow is to continue to navigate as we did the first few days, it is quite regular and strategy work. The mindset will also play a role tomorrow because it is going to be complicated; everyone will want to attack and be on the podium.”

Seven races were sailed, and with so much at stake, the teams took plenty of risks in the light conditions, often rolling the dice and trying to break away from the pack to make gains. On the tight and congested racetrack, mistakes were punished hard; misjudge the start and there was no coming back, find yourself stuck in a hole in the wind and sufferer the consequences. Those who could minimise mistakes and stay out of trouble rose to the top, and it was a great day of racing for Rob Greenhalgh and the team from the Sultanate of Oman, Oman Air, scoring two race wins to upgrade their overnight position from eighth to fourth at the close of play. “It was a difficult day, we didn’t start off brilliantly but then we had a string of reasonable results all the way through,” said Greenhalgh “We were good downwind and made some good decisions. We will go out tomorrow and do the best we can – the team has made excellent progress and we hope to continue to.”

Behind them is J.P. Morgan BAR who had a consistently inconsistent day like much of the fleet, currently in fifth place and leading the middle of the pack. Just one point behind are the new boys from Down Under on GAC Pindar, and while it has been a steep learning curve this season the team are getting better Act by Act, as skipper Nathan Wilmot explained: “I think we’ve learnt a lot over the last couple of regattas. Generally we are being more consistent although we had a couple of bad races today. I think we are learning a lot and up there fighting at the top of the fleet in a lot of the races, so we’ve just got to try and keep it up and hopefully we’ll keep doing it come Sydney.”

Gazprom Team Russia tumbled a few places on the leaderboard, and finish the day tied on points with Red Bull Sailing Team in seventh place. Roman Hagara and his crew had a much better day, making the right sort of waves to move up from eleventh to eighth at the close of play and their double Olympic champion skipper Roman Hagara explained what was different: “We sat down as a team yesterday and tried to analyse all of the things we did that were both bad and good, and then came up with a plan for today. So we’ve continuously improved over the last three days, and that’s what we’ll try and do tomorrow.”

As is the way in Extreme Sailing Series, the final double points race can be a shoot-out that always has twists and turns, and expect tomorrow to be no different, with any team mathematically capable of a top three finish at the close of play.

Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 7 Nice standings after Day 3, 22 races (4.10.14)
Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) 135 points.
2nd Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 125 points.
3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 122 points.
4th Oman Air (OMA) 120 points.
5th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 110 points.
6th GAC Pindar (AUS) 109 points.
7th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 106 points.
8th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 106 points.
9th Groupama sailing team (FRA) 105 points.
10th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 98 points.
11th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 95 points.

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Swiss dominate on day two in Nice

Posted on 03 October 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Extreme Sailing Series] Swiss skipper Jérôme Clerc managed to fight off the challenges of the encroaching pack to keep Realteam at the top of the leaderboard on the second day of the Extreme Sailing Series™ in Nice as the pressure builds with just two days of racing left. The interest from the fans on the beach was huge – and so is the expectation on the teams, with all of the dockside talk already focused on the implications of this Act to the 2014 Series standings. Only 26 points separate first from eleventh place at the close of play – little more than the final double points race – in what is shaping up to be one of the closest, and most crucial, Acts of the season.

Onboard with Realteam's helmsman Arnaud Psarofaghis on the second day of racing in Nice, France. Credit Lloyd Images

Onboard with Realteam’s helmsman Arnaud Psarofaghis on the second day of racing in Nice, France. Credit Lloyd Images

Behind Realteam a whole host of teams are beginning to really challenge. Riding on their wave of success from the 49er world championships, and their nomination for ISAF World Sailors of the year, Pete Burling and regular sailing partner Blair Tuke and the experienced hands on Emirates Team New Zealand, clearly had the winning strategy worked out. The Kiwis started the day in sixth, and a string of consistent results has elevated them to second. Talking about their crew rotation this season, Burling commented: “Every event you go into, you go in with the aim of wining it. The good thing is that I’ve only sailed about eight days with Jero (Lomas) and four with Glenn (Ashby) and obviously loads with Blair, but the combination is just getting stronger and stronger.” Going on to talk about the day’s racing: “I didn’t think we actually had such a great day so thought we would be a bit further back on the scoreboard than second, but we’re just a couple of points off the lead which is what we’re looking at so we’re really happy to be in touch and to still be improving how we’re sailing.”

The Extreme Sailing Series 2014, Act 7, Nice, France.Credit Lloyd Images

The Extreme Sailing Series 2014, Act 7, Nice, France.Credit Lloyd Images

Gazprom Team Russia continued to impress, staying in touch with the leading pack in third place, with the current Series leaders now just one point behind them. After struggling to get out of the blocks yesterday, the Swiss team was on the march today, clocking up more points than any other, taking 49 from a possible 70. Talking about the mood and communication on board that helped the team to make it their day, helm Morgan Larson commented: “Anna (Tunnicliffe) said to us during racing today: you know what, we don’t need to win races, we just need to win points and if we get thirds all day long I’ll be super happy. So those are words from a champion that has the confidence, and she’s definitely that. It was good for all of us to hear it, because we were looking for some magic to win the races.”

The battle behind is raging with J.P. Morgan BAR and GAC Pindar tied on 75 points, and the defending Series champions The Wave, Muscat a point behind – an uncomfortable position for Leigh McMillan who is gunning for his third consecutive Series win this year. But as McMillan pointed out, there is a long way to go and plenty more points for the taking. “We have got plenty of game left in us for the next few days, although it may not look like it on the leaderboard. We did a lot of things well, but unfortunately the mistakes we made were big ones and cost us a lot of points. We’re working well as a team, the consistency onboard is really good – we’ll keep pushing.”

The Extreme Sailing Series 2014, Act 7, Nice, France.Credit Lloyd Images

The Extreme Sailing Series 2014, Act 7, Nice, France.Credit Lloyd Images

Seven windward-leeward races were sailed in a typical Mediterranean light sea breeze and beautiful sunshine delivering a stunning afternoon of racing. The home boat Groupama sailing team struggled to replicate yesterdays wining form, only adding one race win to their tally along with a string of results in the bottom three, which leaves the home boat in ninth place. Skipper Franck Cammas, however, was confident they could turn it around: “We won a race today and that is a positive thing and it shows what we are capable of. Now we just need to be more consistent. It’s all about the details and lost metres here and there, and that’s what makes all the difference.”

SAP Extreme Sailing Team found the form that was missing yesterday, to secure two race wins. The team clocked up a credible 40 points, but struggled – like many – for consistency in the tricky conditions, and finish the day tied on points at the tail end of the leaderboard with Red Bull Sailing Team.

Tomorrow is the penultimate day in Nice, and the pressure on the teams is palpable, with everyone improving race by race, and the pressure mounting.

Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 7 Nice standings after Day 2, 15 races (3.10.14)
Position / Team / Points
1st Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 92 points.
2nd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 84 points.
3rd Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 82 points.
4th Alinghi (SUI) 81 points.
5th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 75 points.
6th GAC Pindar (AUS) 75 points.
7th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 74 points.
8th Oman Air (OMA) 73 points.
9th Groupama sailing team (FRA) 71 points.
10th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 66 points.
11th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 66 points.

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Realteam, Gazprom Team Russia and Groupama excel in Nice

Posted on 02 October 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Extreme Sailing Series] Light winds dominated the opening day of Act 7 of the Extreme Sailing Series™ in Nice, France calling for pin-point precision from the teams as the battle at the penultimate Act of the 2014 global tour began on the sparkling Mediterranean waters. There was change in the air with the newer teams on the circuit calling the shots and Realteam had all the right tactics and boat speed as the fastest average team according to the SAP sailing analytics. The Swiss team scored two first and two seconds places finishing the end of day one in pole position, and skipper Jérôme Clerc commented: “With these light wind conditions, it is even harder to be ahead all the time but I think we have been able to find a good strategy for the day. I think we have to continue with this spirit and try to limit the bad races.”

Gazprom Team Russia had their best day on the circuit on the opening day where the team finished in second position.Credit Lloyd Images

Gazprom Team Russia had their best day on the circuit on the opening day where the team finished in second position.Credit Lloyd Images

Despite not scoring in race two after sailing the wrong course whilst leading, Gazprom Team Russia sailed an impressive day, scoring two race wins to claim second place overall, on equal points with the all-French fixture on Groupama sailing team skippered by Franck Cammas at the close of play. Team Russia’s skipper Phil Robertson, who only took over the tiller at Act 5 Cardiff, spoke about ‘fine-tuning’ their Extreme 40 for light wind racing. “Your whole set up changes with your rig tuning and speed wise, the whole balance of the boat changes. We talk about these factors after every race, whether we need to make any changes or not and as a whole, chat about what we can improve on. That was really good today and the boys put in a big effort to make sure we were going fast. The trick now is just to keep that rolling. The hard part is having another day like this over the next three days, and keep as consistent as possible when we’re not having such a great day so that’s the key.” The Aussie team GAC Pindar, led by Olympic gold medallist Nathan Wilmot had their best start to a regatta this year, coming out of the blocks quickly and sailing consistently to finish the day in fourth place. Cool as ever, Wilmot commented: “We just kept plugging some good races in now and then, and in the lighter air you have a little more time to think about what’s going on. We just tried to sail the boat fast around the course and stay out of trouble with everyone and it seems to have worked well today. It’s pretty hard out there and it can be frustrating so it’s quite hard on the brain when trying to figure out where to go, but if we can keep the boat going around the course nicely we’ll be there doing alright at the end.”

The French local team, Groupama sailing team excelled on their home waters for Act opener in Nice, France.Credit Lloyd Images

The French local team, Groupama sailing team excelled on their home waters for Act opener in Nice, France.Credit Lloyd Images

Ben Ainslie and the British on J.P. Morgan BAR made the right sort of waves in the opening races, and looked to be in imperious form, but a penalty in the third race followed by a start line collision with Alinghi cost them valuable points. The Brits finish the day in a credible fifth place, tied with Emirates Team New Zealand, helmed here by Pete Burling, fresh from a successful defense of the World 49er title in Spain. J.P.Morgan BAR’s bowman Matt Cornwell explained what it was like on the course. “It was very tricky, very light and very easy to put yourself in situations where you’re looking to be in the top three, and then very quickly you can be in the bottom three, so it’s very hard to get those calls right. I think it was the same for everyone and there’s a lot of teams out there that looked frustrated with today’s racing but actually I think we’re all on similar points and it’s all very tight.”

Act 7, Nice 2014 - Day One - 2 Oct 2014. Credit Lloyd Images

Act 7, Nice 2014 – Day One – 2 Oct 2014. Credit Lloyd Images

It wasn’t such a pretty story for the current Series leader Alinghi, and their long-standing dueling partners The Wave, Muscat who both found themselves in the bottom half of the fleet more then the top today. The pair finish the day tied on 39 points in seventh place, leaving themselves with a bit of work to do over the next three days. Despite managing to finish a handful of races in the top three between, Oman Air, Red Bull Sailing Team and SAP Extreme Sailing Team all struggled in the light airs finishing the day in ninth to eleventh respectively. The opening day is just a shakedown of what is to come over the next three days here in Nice, and expect plenty more twists and turns on the leaderboard.

Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 7 Nice standings after Day 1, 8 races (2.10.14)

1st Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 51 points.

2nd Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 48 points.

3rd Groupama sailing team (FRA) 48 points.

4th GAC Pindar (AUS) 45 points.

5th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 44 points.

6th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 44 points.

7th Alinghi (SUI) 39 points.

8th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 39 points.

9th Oman Air (OMA) 33 points.

10th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 30 points.

11th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 26 points.

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Extreme Sailing Series returns to Nice for the penultimate Act of 2014

Posted on 26 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Extreme Sailing Series] Act 7 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series™ global tour is just around the corner, as some of world’s best sailors prepare to descend once again on to the shores of Nice, France, for the penultimate Act in the battle for the 2014 crown. The event will be broadcast live online to fans around the world from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th October 1530-1700 local time (GMT+2) daily, and nationally in France on Canal Sport+  on Saturday and Sunday.

Three Act victories so far this year puts Alinghi top of the Series leaderboard, and the Swiss team, helmed by Morgan Larson, will welcome back Olympic champion Anna Tunnicliffe as tactician in Nice. Tunnicliffe, a two-times ISAF World Sailor of the Year knows all about the pressure of competing and spoke about the team’s focus for the Act. “The fleet is very strong, especially now towards the end of the season. Every point counts. The smallest mistake costs a lot on the scoreboard. Our main goal is to win the Act. We can’t just focus on one boat, there are too many good teams on the course.”

Just one point behind Alinghi is The Wave, Muscat fresh from a second place at the last Act in Istanbul just two weeks ago. As defending champion of not only the Series but also the Nice Act, the team’s British helmsman Leigh McMillan knows what it takes to win on the French Riviera. “Nice can be a whole variety of conditions, so we have to be ready for anything. We just need to continue the form we have had for the last two events. We are always improving and working well as a team, so more of the same is the aim.” Looking at the bigger picture, McMillan continued: “The events are too long with too many races to be concerned with one boat, but as the end approaches, we will have Alinghi in our sights.”

Following fantastic form in Istanbul that saw the Kiwis take their first Act win of the year, you wouldn’t bet against Emirates Team New Zealand, who will be reinforced by Glenn Ashby as well as Pete Burling and Blair Tuke – a duo who are quickly earning a reputation as the hottest property in sailing right now. “We know that anything can happen in Nice and we will look to get as much out of the training day as possible, that hopefully will set us up for a good week of racing. Pete is taking turns at the helm with Dean (Barker) throughout the season and this crew rotation is something we decided at the beginning of the year to try different onboard configurations with the different guys, which is working out well. We go into Nice with the intention of keeping a podium position with 2 Acts to go”, said bowman Jeremy Lomas.

The British team J.P. Morgan BAR is currently leading the second half of the fleet, where the battle is just as close, with just nine points separating the Brits in fifth place, from Groupama sailing team in tenth, with SAP Extreme Sailing Team, Oman Air, Gazprom Team Russia and Red Bull Sailing Team all sandwiched between them. J.P. Morgan BAR’s trimmer, Nick Hutton, who won the Series in 2010, spoke about the importance of a good result in the French Riviera. “We have been addressing what worked and what didn’t so we can move things forward, ready to come back fighting in Nice. It’s the second to last event in the Series, there’s not much time left to get the points in the bag and we want to deliver – it’s a great venue and we are looking forward to some solid racing.”  

Groupama sailing team will be back to full strength welcoming their skipper Franck Cammas back to the fray, who missed Act 6 whilst competing in the Nacra 17 ISAF World Championships in Santander, Spain. Tactician Tanguy Cariou spoke about what to expect from their home waters: “Nice will offer a new racecourse and some different conditions from all the other Acts this season. The last two years the winds have been very strong so who knows what might happen this year! Nice is also a beautiful city and it will be very interesting to expose both the boats and the Stadium Racing to the French public.”

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