[Source: Extreme Sailing Series] Cardiff Bay saved the best for last for the 11-boat Extreme 40 fleet, where Alinghi, The Wave, Muscat and J.P. Morgan BAR battled it out until the bitter end for the top positions, in one of the closest – and most exciting – three-horse fights seen in the Series, which resulted in a three way collision and three consecutive penalties too boot in the final race. You couldn’t have scripted a better final, with the three leaders leaning on each other hard as they tried to gain the upper hand and The Wave, Muscat took advantage of the tussle to sail away with the win at Act 5 presented by Land Rover – and importantly homing in on Alinghi on the overall 2014 Series leaderboard as a relieved McMillan commented: “We’re on track this season, there’s nothing more we can do that’s for sure. The competition is very tight and Alinghi have been really slick this year and have brought in some unbelievable performances. To get one over on them here kind of brings it back down by a point and if we are going to keep pushing them hard, and they do the same to us it’s going to go down to the crunch.”
That left Ben Ainslie and Morgan Larson in a straight shoot out for second, but the British skipper couldn’t break the domination of Switzerland’s Alinghi, with Larson snatching it from the grasps of J.P. Morgan BAR. Alinghi’s Olympic champion tactician Anna Tunnicliffe talked through the final race: “We were waiting for Leigh to tack and he drove us right into the boats rounding the mark and boats started coming at us head first. We ended up above the mark so we couldn’t bear away and at the same time, Ben (Ainslie) was coming round into the side of us and it all turned into a mess. All three boats were tangled on each other. It’s very frustrating, but hopefully we can learn from our mistakes, we’re still on top which is good – the damage could have been worse. We need to move on to Istanbul and refocus for that event.”
Ben Ainslie’s J.P. Morgan BAR were on fire and threatening all day, posting a steady stream of consistent results and slowly chipping away at the leading pack to put themselves in the running. Despite just missing out on second place, the team’s four-times Olympic champion skipper Ainslie was satisfied with the final position, who this week were joined by local lad, Bleddyn Mon. “It has been a great improvement to see us on the podium and great to challenge with the top teams today. It’s a big step forwards and hopefully we can continue this for the rest of the Series. Sailing with Paul Campbell-James was fantastic, he has taught us a lot about these boats and Bleddyn was a great addition, he worked incredibly hard. We are looking forward to sailing with Paul Goodison in Istanbul and as we develop further in the event.”
In traditional UK Bank Holiday style, the day started with an onslaught of rain, before the clouds lifted, the breeze picked up and the fleet played out the final races in a beautiful 15 knots of breeze, with lots of ducking and weaving, hitting top speeds of 20 knots. In a programme of eight races on the final day, Red Bull Sailing Team made a late surge with their best results of the week, including a pair of wins on the tight racecourse, to upgrade their overnight position from eighth, to fourth at the close of play. Their double Olympic champion skipper Roman Hagara commented: “We found out how to start well on the racecourse which was key. We had good boat work and were good at approaching the marks; we did almost everything right. We finished the Act in fourth so that’s a really good result for us, and looking ahead to Istanbul, we need to start the first day as we finished it here.”
A further four points back in fifth place is the Swiss Realteam – and significantly for them, a disappointing 11th place for Emirates Team New Zealand, has seen Jerome Clerc and his Swiss team leapfrog up the Series leaderboard, to third place.
The battle in the bottom half of the leaderboard was just as fierce, with only three points separating eighth placed Gazprom Team Russia to 11th placed Emirates Team New Zealand – and with Act 6, Istanbul less than three weeks away, you can bet that the there will be some stern locker room debriefs, before the teams meet again.
Cardiff has once again delivered an outstanding event, with 90,000 spectators getting front row seats to the action, as part of the Cardiff Harbour Festival. Act 6 Istanbul takes place from the 11-14 September, and with news of a local team entry in the coming days, it will be a packed startline of 12 teams, as the fleet head to the city where East meets West.
Cardiff Harbour Festival hosts Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 5 Cardiff, presented by Land Rover standings after Day 4, 33 races
Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan 210 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, 205 points.
3rd J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, 203 points.
4th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, 186 points.
5th Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, 182 points.
6th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Ted Hackney, 175 points.
7th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, 174 points.
8th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, 154 points.
9th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, 154 points.
10th GAC Pindar (AUS) Nathan Wilmot, 153 points.
11th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker, 151 points.
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2014 overall standings
Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) 47 points.
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 45 points.
3rd Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 34 points.
4th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 33 points.
5th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 25 points.
6th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 22 points.
7th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 20 points.
8th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 18 points.
9th Oman Air (OMA) 16 points.
10th Groupama sailing team (FRA) 15 points.
11th GAC Pindar (AUS) 5 points.