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Testing conditions for Extreme 40 crews on opening day in Saint Petersburg

Posted on 27 June 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Extreme Sailing Series] Set against a city backdrop instantly recognisable the world over, the Neva River provided the playground for the first day of Stadium Racing at Act 4 of the Extreme Sailing Series in Saint Petersburg, presented by Land Rover, where some teams thrived and others suffered within the confines of the tight stadium racecourse, which is just 300 metres wide at its narrowest point. Testing conditions saw the crews battle massive wind shifts and a four-knot current across the racecourse, but Morgan Larson and the team on Alinghi were impressive as ever – the picture of consistency as the average fastest boat downwind and the quickest off the startline according to the SAP Sailing Analytics – that saw them stake an early nine point lead. “We were pretty terrible yesterday in the practice, so today we came out with a little different attitude. We had decent starts, we tried to stay on the opposite side of the racetrack to the rest of the boats so that every time we split from the group we had cleaner air and finally, a little bit of luck went our way and things worked out for us. It’s a challenging venue and it’s going to keep being challenging throughout the week.”

Four races were sailed before an increasing current and decreasing breeze shut proceedings down, forcing Race Management to abandon the racing. Race Director Phil Lawrence explained: “Today was incredibly challenging for the sailors and they did a great job. We managed to get four reasonable races in, but I was forced to abandon the fifth race when the wind stopped, which was a shame but it was the right thing to do. We attempted to start a sixth race but by then the wind was just too light.”

First day of racing at Act 4 of the Extreme Sailing Series. Saint Petersburg, 26 Jun 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

Three race winners emerged from the four races, with Alinghi taking two and the Swiss Realteam and Gazprom Team Russia one-a-piece. Realteam’s skipper Jerome Clerc – who won the penultimate race of the day and is gunning for the teams third podium finish of the season in Russia this week – spoke about the key to winning on this brand new racecourse. “I think good starts are essential, and we did some good starts to be ahead of the game. You then have to be on the right shift at the right moment – if you take the shift at the right time, you can really jump ahead to the front. If you’re in the front at the first mark, it’s pretty easy afterwards. I wouldn’t say this racecourse is any more difficult to anywhere else we’ve been, but the current made the racing really different. We just have to stay consistent, sail well as a team and then the points will follow.”

Saint Petersburg marks the halfway stage of the 2014 global tour, and the teams are really starting to feel the pressure as the Series moves into the ‘business end’. At this mornings press conference, which officially opened Act 4, defending champion Leigh McMillan described the level of competition in the Series as ”getting tougher and tougher each year,” but the Omani team, who is currently second on the overall Series leaderboard, were cool as ice today, keeping it consistent with three third places to finish the day in second place – two points ahead of Realteam.

Another point back in fourth place is Emirates Team New Zealand, and the new combination of Ray Davies calling tactics and Peter Burling on the helm, were unphased by both the fickle breeze and strong current, steadily improving their results throughout the day to finish in fourth. Olympic silver medallist Burling commented: “It’s been a pretty good battle out here, we’re happy with our starts and we’ve got off the line pretty clean. The crew is doing a great job trimming the sails, and getting us around the course into some good lines.”

Over 100 national and international media turned out to watch the elite level teams compete and to support their national sailors onboard the two home boats, the invitational team RussianFirst and Gazprom Team Russia. Igor Lisovenko and Paul Campbell-James have both set their sights on Team Russia’s first podium result on their home waters, and everything seemed on track with a win in the second race of the day, before a disappointing 11th and 12th in the days final races left the team frustrated after racing, having to settle for eighth place, a point behind Groupama sailing team. “It was very tricky. We started the day with a little bit of breeze, and by the end we were barely making it up the tide,” explained Campbell-James. “We got good starts on all bar one race, but we still didn’t manage to convert them into good results, which was extremely frustrating. We did win a race today, so we know we can do it. We just need to have more good races and perform better – avoid the big snakes and try and get a few more ladders.”

Olympic champion Nathan Wilmot made his debut on the stadium racecourse today after only stepping onboard the GAC Pindar Extreme 40 for the first time yesterday, and impressed with two fifth places, at times getting the better of the more experienced crews. Reflecting on his first day in charge, Wilmot commented: “It was interesting out there today, really shifty and hard conditions, but it was good fun. This is only my ninth day of steering a catamaran ever, so we’re just trying to build our experience, get a good team together, create a platform and try and build on from it from there.” The Australian-outfit finish the day in ninth place, a point behind Gazprom Team Russia, in what is shaping up to be an extremely close, and hard fought week of Stadium Racing.

caption width=”640″ align=”aligncenter”] First day of racing at Act 4 of the Extreme Sailing Series. Saint Petersburg, 26 Jun 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images[/caption]

Extreme Sailing Series Act 4 – Standings after Day 1, 4 races (26.06.14)

1st Alinghi (SUI) 37 points.
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 28 points.
3rd Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 26 points.
4th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 25 points.
5th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 22 points.
6th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 20 points.
7th Groupama sailing team (FRA) 17 points.
8th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 16 points.
9th GAC Pindar (AUS) 15 points.
10th Oman Air (OMA) 11 points.
11th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 7 points.
12th RussianFirst (RUS) 4 points.

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SAP become Host Venue Partner and RussianFirst make it 12 Extreme 40s at Russian debut

Posted on 11 June 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Extreme Sailing Series] With just over two weeks to go before the Extreme Sailing Series™ makes its Russian debut (26-29 June), organiser’s OC Sport, have announced a 12-strong fleet, with the addition of the first ever all-Russian Extreme 40 team, RussianFirst. The team – which is largely made up of sailors from Russia’s Olympic team – will take on the 11 elite level teams of the Series on their home waters at Act 4 Saint Petersburg, presented by Land Rover. Extreme Sailing Series Technical Partner SAP has also been announced as Host Venue Partner to the Saint Petersburg Act, as part of SAP’s ongoing journey to transform the world of sports and entertainment for fans around the world.

SAP became Technical Partner to the Series in 2012 and is also title sponsor of the Danish entry, SAP Extreme Sailing Team. Through their innovative technology, they are transforming the world of sailing; helping sailors optimize their performance, bringing fans closer to the action, enabling media to provide a more informed commentary and helping the Extreme Sailing Series to run more efficiently through their race management application. The event in Saint Petersburg provides the perfect platform for SAP to showcase its technology.

“SAP is proud to work with the Extreme Sailing Series and SAP Extreme Sailing Team to help deliver cloud based technology solutions to improve team performance and to simplify how fans and broadcasters stay engaged in the sport from the shoreline,” said Chris Burton, Group Vice President, Global Sponsorships, SAP. “As Host Venue Partner at Act 4 in Saint Petersburg we are pleased to demonstrate the power of the SAP Cloud solutions in this exciting venue. Russia is integral to SAP’s success and future growth, most importantly a base for innovation, where we work closely with our partners and customers to help them simplify the way they do business with world class cloud technology solutions for Russia and the world.”

RussianFirst have been training on Pirogovo Lake near Moscow ahead of Act 4 in Saint Petersburg

The team on RussianFirst – who have been fine-tuning their multihull skills on Pirogovo Lake near Moscow – will be supported by Barkli, an investment and construction corporation company based in Moscow. One of Russia’s most successful Olympic sailors, Georgy Shayduko, will wear the captains’ armband as skipper. Shayduko, who represented his country at four Olympic Games from 1988 – 2000, including picking up a silver medal in the Soling keelboat at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, described what spectators can expect from the racing: “Saint Petersburg is a unique place in Russia with long maritime traditions, that date back to the times of Peter the Great, the founder of the city. Taking place right in the heart of the city, on the waters of the Neva river, the Extreme 40 races will turn the embankments of the Neva into the stadium stands. My team and me have been dreaming of participating in such a professional series in Russia for a very long time. We will do our best to compete well and are looking forward to the competition.”

Sergey Dzhienbaev – a diverse high-performance Olympic class sailor, who is currently campaigning for Rio 2016 in the mixed Nacra 17 – will be in the driving seat as helmsman. The teams’ mainsheet trimmer will be Russia’s 2008 Olympic Tornado representative Pavel Kalinchev, while 49er sailor Pavel Karachov will be the powerhouse at the front of the boat as bowman. Leonid Kazinets, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Barkli as well as world champion skydiver, will be the teams’ headsail trimmer.

The teams will race in the heart of the city on the River Neva, on one of the tightest stadium racecourses the fleet will visit this year. Known for its tactically challenging, light-wind sailing conditions, the racing is expected to be like a game of chess, with the focus on reading your opponents, plotting your moves and executing expertly.

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Alinghi win in Qingdao despite huge crash with Red Bull Sailing Team that knocked them out of racing

Posted on 04 May 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Extreme Sailing Series] On the final days racing at the Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series™, Act 3 Qingdao, the Olympic sailing city lived up to its reputation as a notorious and unpredictable racecourse. Even one of the biggest crashes in the Series’ eight-year history, that saw Red Bull Sailing Team T-bone Alinghi and knock the Swiss out of racing, couldn’t stop Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Nils Frei, Pierre-Yves Jorand and Yves Detrey, who took victory despite watching the final races from the dock, after the international jury awarded the he Swiss boat a redress, to helmsman Larson’s relief. “We were lining up at the start, and approaching the line with ten seconds to go and most of the fleet was on port. Red Bull ducked behind us, the winds were shifty and up and down, there was too much of a puff and they couldn’t get the bear away and T-boned us – it happens. It’s great to have won, we had such a great regatta that it was bittersweet to end that way, but I think we earned it so it feels good. We’re just glad that no one was hurt and that the boat is repairable – it will take a week in a good boat yard, but it will be back and ready to race.”

A change in race format saw the fleet race in groups of six for safety reasons with gusts up to 25 knots blasting across the racecourse, in what proved to be a day of mixed fortunes for the 12-boat elite level fleet. Realteam have been the model of consistency this week, staying out of trouble and keeping their noses clean to take a well deserved second place. Their skipper Jérome Clerc was beaming with confidence after racing, as he looked ahead to the rest of the season. “It’s a great result – it’s our best result since starting in the Extreme Sailing Series. The team was strong from the beginning of the event and we finished very well in these crazy conditions! We sailed the boat well, had good boat handling, good starts and we finished well. We have some stuff to improve on, we need to look to beat Alinghi who have taken the lead over everybody, and we want to reach the podium again.”

Massive collision between Alinghi and Red Bull. Qingdao, 4 May 2014. Photo copyright Xaume Olleros / Red Bull

The young guns on Emirates Team New Zealand have kept in touch with the top of the leaderboard all week, and Peter Burling, who took over from Dean Barker in Qingdao, kept a cool head today to hold off the defending Series champions The Wave, Muscat to take third place – the Kiwis now positioned nicely to topple the old order on the overall Series leaderboard. Burling commented: “We’re pretty stoked to get on the podium. I think going into today there was a bit of a battle between three of us to get into second position, and I suppose there’s a little disappointment that we couldn’t get there. Coming into the start of the week we would have been pretty happy getting a third, so as the week goes on you seem to up your expectations – but overall we’re really happy to come away with a podium and keep in contact with the top guys on the overall Series rankings.”

By most teams standards, a fourth place in a fleet of this calibre would be cause for celebration, but Leigh McMillan and The Wave, Muscat, who have been a dominate force in the class for the last two seasons, were left feeling despondent after missing out on the podium by just one point – the first time since Singapore in 2013 when the team haven’t been on the podium. The pressure is now on McMillan when the fleet head to Russia, with Alinghi now two points ahead on the overall Series leaderboard.

Gazprom Team Russia have been steadily improving as the Act progressed, and today mastered the challenging conditions and bigger gusts with ease, enabling them to pick up another place on the leaderboard to finish in fifth place. British helmsman Paul Campbell-James commented: “We took opportunities when they arose and we are still banging in second and thirds so it gives us confidence moving forward. It’s a nice position to be in and with Russia being the next event, being the home team it will be very exciting, and hopefully it won’t take us three days to warm up! Bring on Saint Petersburg. ”

The battle mid-leaderboard was fierce, with Oman Air leading the second half of the pack to wrap up the week in sixth place, despite missing the first day’s racing after a collision with GAC Pindar. In recognition of their effort get the boat back on the water, and their expertise in boat building, the Oman Air Shore Team became the first recipients of the Land Rover Above and Beyond Award this week, demonstrating a fine example of skill and sportsmanship. Read more about the award, here.

Today Ben Ainslie and his crew showed the gold medal winning form that they have struggled to find this week, with two race wins for the British team, who between them boast six gold medals, upgrading their position to seventh overall. Looking back on the week, and ahead to the rest of the season, Ainslie commented: “Every day there has been a completely new set of conditions to race in, the wind was always slightly different which made it a real challenge for all the teams. It is intense racing with the short races and courses and we are working together to master the style of racing. Overall this event we had some good days and some not so good days, today was obviously a really good day for us. We feel like we are slowly making gains and moving forward, which is what we want to do to be in the top half of the fleet at the end of the season.”

Arguably the best offshore sailor in the world right now, Franck Cammas, showed great form at the first two Acts of the Series in Singapore and Oman, but couldn’t replicate that this week in Qingdao, finishing the regatta in eighth place, just one point behind J.P. Morgan BAR. It was a tough end to the Act for the Austrians on Red Bull Sailing Team too, and after knocking themselves out of racing following today’s collision, the team had to settle for ninth place. SAP Extreme Sailing Team also struggled to master the tricky and challenging Qingdao racecourse this week, and never really got out of the starting blocks, finishing the Act one point behind the Austrians in tenth place, while David Gilmour the young Aussie team on GAC Pindar had a baptism of fire in their first full event racing together as a team.
The local boat Team Extreme Qingdao more than earned their Extreme 40 stripes this week, drawing in the home crowds and impressing, particularly on the opening day, where they finished the event in third, and skipper Mitch Booth was pleased with his teams performance. “The crew did a really great job considering we had limited training together. They were really mixing it up until the end, so we’re pretty happy with our result although we were in the middle of the fleet for most of the regatta, we finished down the back end – but still not out of reach. So all in all we’re very pleased with guys performance this week.”

The aftermath of the massive collision between Alinghi and Red Bull. Qingdao, 4 May 2014. Photo copyright Xaume Olleros / Red Bull

Over four days Qingdao has thrown everything at the fleet, and is not an Act that will easily be forgotten. Next stop for the fleet is Saint Petersburg in Russia, where the season will reach its halfway points, 26-29 June.

Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series Act 3 Qingdao, for the ‘Double Star Mingren’ Cup standings after Day 4, 32 races
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 178 points.
2nd Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Denis Girardet, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wassem 168 points.
3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Peter Burling, Glenn Ashby, Blair Tuke, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 160 points.
4th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 159 points.
5th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Paul Campbell-James, Alister Richardson, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 140 points.
6th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Tom Johnson, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 133 points.
7th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Pippa Wilson, Matt Cornwell 129 points.
8th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Sophie de Turckheim, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 128 points.
9th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Nick Blackman, Stewart Dodson 126 points.
10th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Peter Wibroe, Nicolai Sehested 125 points.
11th Team Extreme Qingdao (CHN) Mitch Booth, Zhang Yiran, Liu Xue, Nick Moloney, Freddie White 111 points.
12th GAC Pindar (AUS) David Gilmour, Troy Tindill, Ed Smyth, Sam Newton, Alexandra South 98 points.

Extreme Sailing Series 2014 overall standings
1st Alinghi (SUI) 28 points.
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 26 points.
3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 24 points.
4th Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 22 points.
5th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 15 points.
6th Groupama sailing team (FRA) 12 points.
7th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 11 points.
8th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 10 points.
9th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 9 points.
10th Oman Air (OMA) 8 points.
11th GAC Pindar (AUS) 3 points.

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Extreme Sailing Series – Qingdao: Highlights of day two

Posted on 03 May 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Extreme Sailing Series – Qingdao: Highlights of day two

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Swiss dominate as Alinghi and Realteam lead the charge ahead of the final Qingdao showdown

Posted on 03 May 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Extreme Sailing Series]  On a packed-eight race day at Act 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series™ in Qingdao, the battle lines were drawn between the 12 competing international Extreme 40 teams ahead of tomorrow’s final showdown on the compact stadium racecourse, which at times resulted in a few near misses, protest flags being pulled, a man overboard for SAP Extreme Sailing Team and a collision in the final race of the day between GAC Pindar and Team Extreme Qingdao, that will see the Aussie team with a night of repairs ahead. Alinghi – the team who have led the Act since race one – managed to cling onto a 10-point advantage at the close of play, but it was their fellow Swiss country men Realteam who had their strategy sorted, strengthening their hand with each race, including a win in the day’s opener, to head into tomorrow’s final showdown in China’s Olympic Sailing City in second place, to the delight of skipper Jérôme Clerc. “We started in fourth place today and we are now second so we are very happy. It shows that our strategy is working. We have stayed conservative all day and didn’t take too many risks, but at the same time have had good starts and our tactics were spot on. Tomorrow we will be happy if we manage to keep Alinghi behind us.” The defending Series champions The Wave, Muscat are just two points behind Realteam, and with up to 90 points for the taking tomorrow, and huge gusts up to 28 knots set to return, the Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series Act 3, Qingdao is set to go down to the wire.

The first four races were played out in around eight knots of wind, and executing the starting procedure well was crucial, with decisions made in the pre-start often dictating the outcome of the race. On the short start line the fleet struggled to get away cleanly, with the on-water referees dishing out starting penalties including two general recalls, before the third attempt saw nine of the 12 boat fleet red flagged. After five races, there was a change in tempo, and a building southerly breeze outside the harbour brought with it big swell, that saw the teams punching through the waves in 12 knots of breeze. One team to relish the conditions was Emirates Team New Zealand, who finished the day strongly with two back-to back-wins, leaving them trailing the defending Series champions by just one point in fourth place. 22-year old Pete Burling, who has taken the tiller from Dean Barker this week said: “We started the day a little slow, but in the last three races of the day we really got off the start-line well which is the first time all week we have really managed to do that. I think the level is really high right now, we’re slowly getting better each day, and we’re happy with the boat speed and hopefully we’ll be able to give it a good crack tomorrow. Tomorrow we’ll need to do the same as we did in those last races today – good starts off the line and consistency.”

The Swiss are now dominating after three days of racing at the Extreme Sailing Series. Qingdao, 3 May 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

The battle mid-leaderboard is just as intense, with only 25 points separating positions five to eleven at close of play – little more than the difference of tomorrow’s final double points race with everything to play for. Red Bull Sailing Team lead the second half of the pack in fifth place with 105 points, with Gazprom Team Russia just nine points behind. Today was an important day for Oman Air, who needed to put points on the leaderboard to cash-in on the average points they were awarded after getting knocked out of racing on day one, and Rob Greenhalgh and his team did just that, winning their first race of the Act. The Omani team head into tomorrow’s final in a solid seventh place, two points ahead of Groupama sailing team, and Kyle Langford, who has joined the team this week as mainsail trimmer, commented: “It was our first proper day’s racing (after missing day one following a collision), and it went reasonably well. We had a race win which was good, and it was good to see that we can actually do it, so all in all it was excellent. It was easier for us to get in sync and figure out our manoeuvres. All of the races were the same so we could try to improve from each race. We’re constantly working hard and we’ll always aim to improve.”

Ben Ainslie’s J.P. Morgan BAR have not had the return to the 2008 Olympic waters they would have been hoping for at the start of the week, but the British team began to turn that around today, including a win in the sixth race of the day, giving the team a boost up the leaderboard to ninth place. Pippa Wilson, the team’s headsail trimmer who took up gold in the Yngling class in 2008 as one of ‘three blondes in a boat’, commented: “It was a bit of an up and down day, we had a sticky start and then got used to the conditions and got better and better throughout the day. It was a difficult day but we’re learning more about the style of racing as it’s quite different to anything any of us have ever done before, so it takes a bit of time to get into that and work out the trends of the day. I think we did well to get through the difficult conditions, and pulled out some good results in the middle. I think tomorrow will be quite a different day, it’s supposed to be quite breezy, so we will see what we get weather-wise in the morning and take it from there.”

The young Aussie team on GAC Pindar are really trying to hone their multihull skills this year and today began to match the more experienced players on the track with their best results of the week. It wasn’t all plain sailing for skipper David Gilmour however, and a collision in the final seconds of the final race with Team Extreme Qingdao has left them with a big gash in the stern of their right hull, and a night of repairs in the pitlane. Gilmour explained: “We were reaching downwind to the finish and we had the pontoon to the left of us, and Team Extreme Qingdao were sailing upwind and side on to us. They had right of way and in the direction they were pointing we would have to either sail into the jetty or into them – so we tried to get in between, hit them and ruined our boat a little bit.” Taking the positives away from the day, Gilmour continued: “Today we had a much better day than the start of the regatta. We’re really working together as a team and I’m starting to get used to these boats a bit more – it was really good fun today”

With up to 90 points up for the taking tomorrow, including the often game-changing final double points race, and with so little separation on the leaderboard, tomorrow really is anyone’s game. The rhythm is set to change again tomorrow for the fleet, with huge gusts on the forecast as China’s Olympic sailing city continues to throw everything at the elite level sailors.

Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 3 Qingdao, for the ‘Double Star Mingren’ Cup standings after Day 3, 22 races (03.05.14)
Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 133 points.
2nd Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Denis Girardet, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wassem 123 points.
3rd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 121 points.
4th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Peter Burling, Glenn Ashby, Blair Tuke, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 120 points.
5th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Nick Blackman, Stewart Dodson 105 points.
6th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Paul Campbell-James, Alister Richardson, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 96 points.
7th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Tom Johnson, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 92 points.
8th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Sophie de Turckheim, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 90 points.
9th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Pippa Wilson, Matt Cornwell 85 points.
10th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Peter Wibroe, Nicolai Sehested 81 points.
11th Team Extreme Qingdao (CHN) Mitch Booth, Zhang Yiran, Liu Xue, Nick Moloney, Freddie White 80 points.
12th GAC Pindar (AUS) David Gilmour, Troy Tindill, Ed Smyth, Sam Newton, Alexandra South 66 points.

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Full pressure day as the Extreme 40 fleet battle huge gusts on the Qingdao stadium racecourse

Posted on 02 May 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Extreme Sailing Series] It was a full pressure day as the fleet moved into the stadium racing mode at the Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series™ in Qingdao, described by the skippers as ‘radical’, ‘full-on’, ‘unpredictable’ and gnarly’, with gusts up to 32 knots weaving their way through the surrounding skyscrapers like bullets screaming across the stadium racecourse. The racing was right on the edge, and the teams used all their strength to muscle their speed machines expertly around the track, tackling a huge wind range of over 20 knots. The experience of both Alinghi and The Wave, Muscat was evident, and the teams relished today’s big breeze as much as yesterday’s light winds, remaining first and second respectively, while one first and two second places for the Kiwis on Emirates Team New Zealand upgraded their overall position to third, ahead of tomorrow’s penultimate day’s racing.

There was plenty of hull flying, bows down and extremely close mark rounding’, with the fleet reaching top speeds of 25 knots as they tried to predict the huge wind shifts which saw the breeze go from 10 to 32 knots in a second. Before racing, Race Management made the call to split the fleet, first into groups of eight, and then groups of four, to minimize the chance of collisions on the tight race track. Leigh McMillan, skipper of The Wave, Muscat who is out to defend his title in Qingdao, commented: “We like it when the breeze is up, today was pretty radical. Gusts and big shifts is quite a handful. But we’re happy to have made it through the day with no big collisions which is great – it was pretty full on out there.”

Today required a change in mindset for the teams, with the conditions a stark contrast to yesterday’s light wind, as acting skipper of Alinghi, Morgan Larson explained: “At times the boat that would come off the line last would go on to win races. That goes to show that today there was opportunity, whereas yesterday you needed to have a good start and the positioning needed to stay the same – with the shifty winds today it really created opportunity. Most of the time you have to be aggressive on these boats to do well, if you back off and be conservative that’s when trouble seems to happen. So balancing that today was really key and I think we did a good job – we positioned ourselves conservatively but we sailed the boat physically hard, and I think the results show.”

Strong breeze on the second day of the Extreme Sailing Series event in Qingado. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

At the hands of 49er World Champion Pete Burling, Emirates Team New Zealand took their first race win of the regatta. Burling and headsail trimmer Blair Tuke are one of the hottest duos in sailing at the moment, having won both the Hyeres and Palma de Mallorca ISAF World Cup events recently, and showed their versatility alongside their Kiwi teammates, with their first race win of the Act helping to elevate their overnight position from fifth to third, four points ahead of the Swiss Realteam.

Another team relishing the conditions was the French Groupama sailing team, who after struggling to get near the top half of the fleet during yesterday’s Act opener, turned it around today with a win in the final race elevating them from seventh to six place, now three points behind the home nation entry, Team Extreme Qingdao. Groupama skipper Franck Cammas talked team tactics: “Today was difficult. After yesterday’s racing we had a debrief; we talk all the time and even after each race we try to talk through and analyse our performance. Sometimes it is hard to go into racing with a big plan as you have to react to the opportunities you are faced with at the time. It’s difficult, but our main goal is to be consistent, and then overall I think we will do well.”

The Austrian Red Bull Sailing Team were on form today, and even a collision in the first race of the day at the bottom mark with Realteam that knocked them out of the race with damage to their rudders couldn’t put them off their stride, going onto win their next two races. Skipper Hagara was pleased with his team’s performance. “Today was good (despite the collision). It’s really tricky sailing inside the stadium in these conditions, and we know this from past years – we just have to be focused on our skills, we know we have good crew work, our boat handling is good and you just have to make the right decisions. A good start helps, but it’s still tricky on the racecourse with the big gusts – we did well in the races and managed to win two so it’s great.”

Mistakes on the racecourse were punished hard, and misjudging the wind shifts and getting caught in a lull on the track left some teams frustrated. Two-times winner of the Series Paul Campbell-James, helm of Team Russia alongside native skipper Igor Lisovenko, felt that was the case for their team. “We’re a little bit frustrated to be honest. We were a bit lackluster in the first race, and we gave away two places in the last run after a stupid manoeuvre. We gave away two spots in the last race and lost two boats by about a metre so we turned what would have been a good day into an average day. We’re racing in the middle of a big city, with 90 degree wind shifts and breeze going from 5-25 knots – it’s good fun at the end of the day.” The Russian team are tied on points with SAP Extreme Sailing Team on 55 points, five points behind Groupama sailing team.

Following a night of repairs after yesterday’s collision with GAC Pindar, Oman Air were back on the water today and a protest hearing by the International Jury ruled the team will be awarded average points for the eight races they missed yesterday at the end of tomorrow’s racing.

Tomorrow the conditions are expected to abate for the penultimate day’s racing, and the fleet will likely race with all 12 teams, but Sunday’s final showdown looks like it could be played out in even bigger gusts then were seen today, with plenty more action and plenty more races still to be played out.

Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series Act 3 Qingdao, for the ‘Double Star Mingren’ Cup standings after Day 2, 14 races (02.05.14)
Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 90 points.
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 76 points.
3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Peter Burling, Glenn Ashby, Blair Tuke, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 73 points.
4th Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Denis Girardet, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wassem 69 points.
5th Team Extreme Qingdao (CHN) Mitch Booth, Zhang Yiran, Liu Xue, Nick Moloney, Freddie White 64 points.
6th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Nick Blackman, Stewart Dodson 63 points.
7th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Sophie de Turckheim, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 61 points.
8th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Peter Wibroe, Nicolai Sehested 55 points.
9th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Paul Campbell-James, Alister Richardson, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 55 points.
10th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Pippa Wilson, Matt Cornwell 50 points.
11th GAC Pindar (AUS) David Gilmour, Troy Tindill, Ed Smyth, Sam Newton, Alexandra South 34 points.
12th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Tom Johnson, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 16 points.*
*Team will be awarded average points for the races missed following tomorrow’s racing.

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Testing light winds on day one of Extreme Sailing Series event in Qingdao

Posted on 01 May 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Racing began in China’s Olympic sailing city today at the Land Rover, Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 3 Qingdao, for the ‘Double Star Mingren’ Cup, where five different race winners emerged from the eight races sailed, in a day that saw the fleet struggle for consistency and the leaderboard reshuffle after every race. On the open water racecourse, the Swiss team Alinghi dominated in testing light winds and strong tide, to edge ahead on the leaderboard at the end of day. But it was the local boat, Team Extreme Qingdao, who will be grabbing the headlines tonight after an outstanding debut performance sees the team in third place at the end of day one – the best ever performance by a home nation invitational team.

Unfortunately for Oman Air, their day was over before it had a chance to begin, after a collision with GAC Pindar in the start line tussle of the first race left the team with severe damage to their port hull, forcing them back to the pit lane. Rob Greenhalgh, skipper of Oman Air – who has welcomed the talents of America’s Cup winner Kyle Langford to the team this week – explained what happened: “Just after the start of the first race, GAC Pindar tacked onto port and misjudged the dip on us and T-boned us pretty hard – we have a pretty big hole in the side of the boat. These things happen unfortunately. The shore guys will work hard tonight and get the boat ready for racing tomorrow. We will lick our wounds and be back. It’s a disappointment – we were pumped to race.” The team will be given a redress and will likely be awarded average points from their races over the next two days by the international jury.

Light and tricky first day at the Extreme Sailing Series. Qingdao, 1 May 2014. Photo copyright Lloyd Images

The local boat Team Extreme Qingdao, is being led by co-skippers Mitch Booth and Yiran Zhang this week, and today the duo certainly had the golden touch. The team – who has only come together for this Act – posted a string of consistent results, keeping a cool head under the pressure, and even taught the more seasoned teams a few tricks, winning the fourth race of the day. Team Extreme Qingdao finish the day in third place, and a thrilled Booth commented: “It was a great day for us. We started really well, and our objective was to try and keep clear of everybody else, and not get into the traffic or into any situations that would put pressure on the guys. I think that strategy worked pretty well. We started well, had some clean lanes and overall, it was a great day of racing.” The local boat are just three points behind the defending champions – of both the Qingdao Act and the Series – The Wave, Muscat.

The Swiss light wind lake specialists Realteam were also impressive, showing a return to the form they demonstrated at Act 1 Singapore, and finish the day tied on points with Team Extreme Qingdao. Skipper Jerome Clerc commented: “We are really happy with today. The crew did a great job and our performance was better than in Oman where we struggled at the beginning – and now we’re in the game from the start. I think the crew are on fire.”

After damaging their forestay in the first race of the day, and making a ‘quick fix’ on the water, the Austrian Red Bull Sailing Team did well to continue putting points on the leaderboard, and a win in race six helped them on their way to sixth place overall. Their double Olympic gold medal winning skipper, Roman Hagara, commented: “It’s a tough game, you have to be right on the spot at the start and if not, it’s really hard to fight in amongst the fleet. In the last two races we didn’t manage to get good starts, which hurt. It was really good to get our first race win today – it’s much easier to sail at the front of the fleet – it was the perfect race for us.” The Austrian team are five points behind Emirates Team New Zealand, and one point ahead of the French Groupama sailing team, who posted a mixed bag of results that included two second places but also three finishes in the bottom three. The Russian team are a further one point behind Groupama sailing team in eighth place.

By anyone’s standards, two race wins on the Extreme 40 racecourse is no mean feat, but even that wasn’t enough for SAP Extreme Sailing Team to make it into the top half of the fleet today, who more often than not, found themselves trailing at the back of the pack and settling for ninth place overall. Co-Skipper Rasmus Koster explained what they need to change tomorrow: “We’re not too surprised to see that we are in ninth position. More or less anybody can win a race, but you need to be consistent. We didn’t achieve that today, we struggled at times to get off the line, but when we could, we posted some good results – it’s difficult as everybody is doing well out there. We’re not happy with ninth, but we are with the two race wins, so we will review the analytics and see what we can do tomorrow in stadium racing.”

J.P. Morgan BAR struggled on the Olympic waters their skipper Ben Ainslie and crew Paul Goodison and Pippa Wilson – all gold medallists from Beijing 2008 – know so well finishing the day in tenth place, as did GAC Pindar who struggled to compose themselves after their race one collision. With plenty of races still to come, the teams will be assessing their performance on the water today and planning their moves as Act 3 goes into stadium tomorrow.

Series Main Partner Land Rover also announced today the new Above and Beyond Award for competitors of the Series – a reward that recognises their sportsmanship, strength of mind and team spirit. The award has been established to reward the finest demonstration of going Above and Beyond – the ethos that lies at the heart of the Land Rover brand. At the end of the season an ultimate trophy will be presented to honour the most inspiring example of going Above and Beyond and the team will be rewarded with the use of a Land Rover in their home country in the following year.

Tomorrow the game changes as the twelve boat Extreme 40 fleet move into the stadium inside the breakwater and with the breeze expected to build overnight, tomorrow is expected to be a full pressure day. Despite his early lead, American Morgan Larson and Alinghi will be taking nothing for granted. “It will be different tomorrow. With more wind there could be potential for more collisions and more action. So tomorrow we will aim to stay out of trouble and focus on not getting into any wrecks, but in this field you have to push a little harder at the same time.”

Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 3 Qingdao, for the ‘Double Star Mingren’ Cup standings after Day 1, 8 races (01.05.14)
Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 64 points.
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 50 points.
3rd Team Extreme Qingdao (CHN) Mitch Booth, Zhang Yiran, Liu Xue, Nick Moloney, Freddie White 47 points.
4th Realteam (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Denis Girardet, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wassem 47 points.
5th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Peter Burling, Glenn Ashby, Blair Tuke, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 45 points.
6th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Nick Blackman, Stewart Dodson 40 points.
7th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Sophie de Turckheim, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 39 points.
8th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Paul Campbell-James, Alister Richardson, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 37 points.
9th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Peter Wibroe, Nicolai Sehested 33 points.
10th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Pippa Wilson, Matt Cornwell 29 points.
11th GAC Pindar (AUS) David Gilmour, Troy Tindill, Ed Smyth, Sam Newton, Alexandra South 17 points.
12th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Tom Johnson, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 0 points.

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David Gilmour to skipper GAC Pindar at the Extreme Sailing Series event in Qingdao

Posted on 23 April 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: GAC Pindar] 22-year-old David, son of America’s Cup veteran Peter Gilmour, will take over the reins from fellow Australian Seve Jarvin as the team focuses on securing its first race victory. Jarvin will return to the Series later in the year. Gilmour made his Stadium Racing debut for GAC Pindar in Act 2 in Oman. He will be joined in China by experienced America’s Cup sailors, Sam Newton, Ed Smyth, Troy Tindill and 2013 18ft Female Skiff World Champion Alexandra South.

GAC Pindar Principal Andrew Pindar says: “One of the reasons behind the Team GAC Pindar / Team Australia partnership for the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series is our shared focus on developing the next generation of high level sailing talent. David is a great example of such talent and we are delighted to welcome him to our crew.”

Iain Murray, CEO of Team Australia, adds: “During the Extreme Sailing Series it’s likely everyone in Team GAC Pindar / Team Australia will be rotated. This certainly won’t be the last change during the series, as we want to expose the crew to different combinations, team cultures and structure. Australia is fortunate enough to have a lot of talented young sailors and we want to give them an opportunity to sail during this regatta.”

Gilmour, who won the ISAF Nations Cup in 2013 and will compete on the 2014 World Match Racing Tour, says: “I’m thrilled to be skipper for the Qingdao Extreme Sailing Series event, I really enjoyed racing with the team in Oman and learnt a lot from Seve and the crew. GAC Pindar has made steady progress over the first two Acts, and I hope to build on that and continue to improve on our results in Qingdao.”

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