Wide Open! Day of comebacks ahead of the final day tomorrow
On the penultimate day of racing at Extreme Sailing Series Act 1 at The Wave, Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman the action came thick and fast, with both Red Bull Extreme Sailing and Team New Zealand delivering the most outstanding performances of the day. Roman Hagara and the crew of Red Bull Extreme Sailing, lying in 5th overall going into today, are now on the podium lying in third place after 25 races: “We are really happy now we are third overall and it’s great for us. We are almost beginners and it is the best result so far and I hope we can continue. We have a lot of experience in the Extreme 40 already and Craig (Monk) is really strong so he can do a lot of things that we can not handle without him, and those last minute calls are a bit easier so overall we made a good improvement.”
For Dean Barker and the boys on Team New Zealand it was an even better day, climbing from 7th to 4th in the rankings: “Today everything fell into place really well and we had a fantastic day on the water and managed to get some good solid results which was very pleasing for all of us,” said Barker. “It was a day where in a lot of ways we had a little bit of luck, which seems to be an important ingredient here, and we had some good starts and the crew were solid all day. We might have started the regatta slow but each day it feels like we have improved a little bit and if we can carry on improving then we’ll be satisfied.”
A total of eight ‘stadium’ races were staged off The Wave, Muscat that saw six different teams claim at least one race win, Team New Zealand scored two first places and the all-Italian team Niceforyou delighted in their first race win of 2011: “I feel happy and happy for my crew that they did a very good job,” said skipper Alberto Barovier. “The boat handling today was perfect and all the tactical choices were good, not all the races but most.” Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, helmed by Pierre Pennec, were consistently good enough today to hold on to their top place ranking, just 7 points ahead of Terry Hutchinson’s Artemis Racing. With 11 points for a win, and 22 points on the final race tomorrow, its wide open in the top half of the leaderboard. As Dean Barker summed up: “There’s a lot of points still on the table going so its going to be hard.”
The short and demanding courses raced within the constraints of the stadium saw the on-water umpires dish out multiple penalties for blocking and port-starboard incidents in the light 7-9 knot NE breeze. The most dramatic incident of the day came when Torvar Mirsky’s The Wave, Muscat suffered a collision with Alinghi, and very nearly ended up on the breakwater boulders. As Mirsky’s crew called for water and tacked on to port, Alinghi did not react quickly enough and crashed into their port hull. The Wave, Muscat carried on racing but has been craned out tonight to undergo a long night of repairs. The team has confirmed they will be back racing tomorrow and they are still very much in the game lying in 5th place overall. Only 2 points separate Luna Rossa in 6th place and Alinghi in 7th. Right now, 7 of the 11 teams could still win Act 1 of the Extreme Sailing Series with multiple races to come and double-points up for grabs in the final race.
Away from the racing, the 11 Extreme 40 teams are flying their dockside flags at half-mast today and tomorrow as a sign of respect to the people of New Zealand who have been affected by the earthquake that struck Christchurch on Tuesday. With Kiwi crew amongst the 44 sailors here, everyone’s thoughts have turned to New Zealand and the challenges they now face.
The Extreme Sailing Series has elected this year to nominate a charity from each host venue, different to 2010 when each team had an elected charity. For the first act here in Oman, the national Environment Society of Oman (ESO) has been chosen. The ESO is a non-governmental society which aims to help conserve Oman’s stunning natural heritage and raise awareness about environmental issues. Founded in 2004 by Omanis across the country, representing a variety of professional backgrounds, with the key aim of ensuring Oman’s natural heritage remains intact for future generations to enjoy. ESO is eager to drive hands-on projects that not only achieve their environmental protection goals but also help raise public awareness and the need for conservation.
Extreme Sailing Series, Act 1 at The Wave, Muscat
Day 4 Results after 25 races:
Pstn / Team / Skipper/crew / points
1st Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec / Christophe Espagnon / Thierry Fouchier / Hervé Cunningham / 194 points
2nd Artemis Racing (SWE), Terry Hutchinson / Sean Clarkson / Morgan Trubovich / Andy Fethers / 187 points
3rd Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT), Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Will Howden / Craig Monk / 183 points
4th Team New Zealand (NZL), Dean Barker / Glen Ashby / James Dagg / Jeremy Lomas / 176 points
5th The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Torvar Mirsky / Kyle Langford / Nick Hutton / Khamis Al Anbouri / 165 points
6th Luna Rossa (ITA), Max Sirena / Paul Campbell-James / Alister Richardson / Manuel Modena / 163 points
7th Alinghi (SUI), Tanguy Carioiu / Yann Guichard / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey / 161 points
8th Oman Air (OMA), Sidney Gavignet / Kinley Fowler / David Carr / Nasser Al Mashari / 143 points
9th Team Extreme (EUR), Roland Gaebler / Bruno Dubois / Sebbe Godefroid / Michael Walther / 96 points
10th Niceforyou (ITA), Alberto Barovier / Alberto Sonino / Daniele de Luca Simone de Mari / 75 points
11th Team GAC Pindar (GBR), Ian Williams / Brad Webb / Gilberto Nobili / Jono Macbeth / 43 points
April 05th 2011
Heading to China for Act 2 of the Global Series
There is now just one week to go until Act 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series™ gets underway in Qingdao, China - a new venue on the 2011 nine-stop global circuit. The 11-boat Extreme 40 fleet was placed on board a ship after Act 1 at The Wave, Muscat, Oman bound for China and the Extreme 40s are on course to be delivered to their new host venue in Fushan Bay, home of the 2008 Olympic Village, tomorrow.
The 11 Extreme 40 teams will by vying to win Act 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series for the Double Star Cup organised in association with the Qingdao Yachting Association. The organising committee for the Qingdao event has put in place a strong marketing campaign around the city and a host of cultural activities that includes an Official Opening Ceremony on the 13th April at the Shangri-la Hotel, Chinese Traditional Dances, Street Dances and Taiji Fan displays, martial arts, acrobatic demonstrations as well as BMX and roller blading displays, alongside a ‘5th-man’ and photographic competition.
Qingdao is China’s fourth largest manufacturing port in the country and known as the ‘City of Sailing’ since staging the sailing programme of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, as well as being selected as a stopover port for both the Volvo Ocean Race and the Clipper Race. Act 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series will see two days of ‘open water’ racing (13-14 April), allowing the race management to set ‘true’ upwind and downwind courses without the confines of the ‘stadium’ sailing format which commences on the 15th April for three days, with the 11-boat fleet racing right in front of the spectators. And the public will be out in force supporting Chinese sailor, William Wu, who will be joining Roland Gaebler’s Team Extreme. William was part of the America’s Cup China Team, and joined the first Louis Vuitton Pacific Series Regatta in Auckland in 2009. As well as his passion for sailing, William is a regular marathon runner (best time approx 3.5 hours) and has a passion for mountaineering, climbing to a height of 6805m on Everest in 2004. William has never experienced anything like racing on board the super-light Extreme 40 catamaran that can reach a top speed of 46 mph [74 km/h] on a race course that is no bigger than six football pitches.
Extreme Sailing Series Overall Standings after Act 1:
Position / Team / Skipper & crew / Act 1 at The Wave, Muscat
1st Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec / Christophe Espagnon / Thierry Fouchier / Hervé Cunningham / 11 points
2nd Artemis Racing (SWE), Terry Hutchinson / Sean Clarkson / Morgan Trubovich / Andy Fethers / 10 points
3rd Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT), Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Will Howden / Craig Monk / 9 points
4th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Dean Barker / Glenn Ashby / James Dagg / Richard Meacham / 8 points
5th Luna Rossa (ITA), Max Sirena / Paul Campbell-James / Alister Richardson / Manuel Modena / 7 points
6th Alinghi (SUI), Tanguy Cariou / Yann Guichard / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey / 6 points
7th The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Torvar Mirsky / Kyle Langford / Nick Hutton / Khamis Al Anbouri / 5 points
8th Oman Air (OMA), Sidney Gavignet / Kinley Fowler / David Carr / Nasser Al Mashari / 4 points
9th Team Extreme (EUR), Roland Gaebler / Bruno Dubois / Sebbe Godefroid / Michael Walther / 3 points
10th Niceforyou (ITA), Alberto Barovier / Alberto Sonino / Daniele de Luca Simone de Mari / 2 points
11th Team GAC Pindar (GBR), Ian Williams / Brad Webb / Gilberto Nobili / Jono Macbeth / 1 point
April 13th 2011
Day 1 Act 2 Qingdao: The Gloves Are Off In Qingdao
The dramatic city landscape of Qingdao provided the backdrop for Day 1 of the Extreme Sailing Series™ Qingdao, Act 2 of the 2011 global tour. The horseshoe shaped Fushan Bay is home to the Extreme 40 fleet for the next five days surrounded by high-rise buildings of this huge industrial city, which is China's fourth largest manufacturing port also known as the 'City of Sails'.
A Thai Chi Fan performance at the Qingdao Olympic Sailng Centre © Lloyd Images
Qingdao hosted the Olympic sailing events of the 2008 Beijing Games in addition to being a stopover port for both the Volvo Ocean Race and the Clipper Race but the people of Qingdao haven’t seen anything like the Extreme 40s before and although these first two days are non-public days, hundreds of public gathered along the huge pedestrian breakwater to see first-hand the boats in race mode.
Six races were staged today on the outside of the breakwater in a good easterly breeze between 10-15 knots and the ‘open water’ courses, still close enough for the spectators to follow each race unfold. The gloves were off from the beginning and it was clear the 11 teams were going to push for every inch of water, resulting in two minor crashes which saw Groupe Edmond de Rothschild collide with Alinghi and Red Bull Extreme Sailing barrel into the back of team Niceforyou’s port hull.
The fleet on the start line © Lloyd Images
It was Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand who had the better day finishing at the top of the leaderboard on 49 points: “We started off a little bit slowly and then we steadily improved, our worst result was a 7th. It was testing today as we haven’t had the ideal preparation and I’ve been a little bit crook with food poisoning but it was good to get out there. The racing is really tight but it is the reason we are here, we want to test ourselves as much as we can against the best multihull sailors in the world, and this is the place to be.” The Kiwi campaign is gathering momentum from their impressive start in Act 1 in Oman, which saw Barker’s men find their form over the final two days to finish 4th overall. And today’s 1st, 2nd, two 4th places, 5th and 7th place demonstrated that they are steadily on the upward curve.
The Wave, Muscat (Torvar Mirsky), Red Bull Extreme Sailing (Roman Hagara) and Artemis Racing (Santiago Lange) ended the first day on equal points (47). Lange is a six-time Olympian, bronze medalist in 2004 and competitor in Qingdao at the 2008 Olympic Games, was delighted with his first Extreme 40 experience: “I love it! I think we have had great wind conditions for Qingdao and I enjoyed it a lot. We have only practiced the day before and yesterday for a couple of hours so I felt that I was not going to perform 100% . It’s the first time we sailed together and it was a challenge as I have some issues with the language especially in the heat of the battle!”
Emirates Team New Zealand © Lloyd Images
Roman Hagara was also enthusiastic with his team’s performance, third overall in the standings equaling their overall podium result in Oman, the first time the Red Bull Extreme Sailing team made the Extreme Sailing Series podium: “Overall today was pretty good for us. We had some ups and downs but everybody was making mistakes and so were we but that is racing.”
The Swiss-team Alinghi skippered by Tanguy Cariou, helmed by Frenchman Yann Guichard, had a good and a bad day… Two 1st places in race 3 and 5, but three results in the bottom half left them in 5th place overall after the first day. Max Sirena’s Luna Rossa improved in the second half finding some consistency to leave them in 6th place, a good 8 points ahead of Act 1 victors, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, two second-places being their best race results of the day.
April 14th 2011
Day 2 Act 2 Qingdao: A Day of High Drama
In the words of singer, Paolo Nutini, ‘What a day…!’ Four and a half hours of high-drama on the second day of the Act 2 at the Extreme Sailing Series™ Qingdao. The Austrian Red Bull Extreme Sailing team thought they had snatched the overall lead from Emirates Team New Zealand in the final race only to find their victory in tatters after Dean Barker’s team were given redress (a rare occasion on this circuit); the 11-boat close combat racing resulted in two collisions; and, to top it all, Roland Gaebler’s Team Extreme won their first race of the season with the Mayor of Qingdao on board in the 5th man spot, to the delight of the public!
Six ‘open water’ races were raced today outside the breakwater of Fushan Bay. The breeze was a up and down but predominantly strong enough to see the Extreme 40 fleet flying their hulls - when it dropped, the teams had to deploy a different set of tactics to find an advantage which split the fleet on numerous occasions as Hagara explains: “It was a pretty hard day today, especially on the start line as the wind was shifting a lot and there was a big difference in pressure. Quiet difficult to know where to go, which side of the start line is better, where the pressure is the most powerful.”
Dean Barker’s team was consistently good and finished inside the top four in the first five races, winning the penultimate race. It looked like the Kiwi team would retain their overall lead… But in classic Extreme style, the script appeared to be rewritten in the final race of the day… Barker’s team was called over the start line and Roman Hagara’s team were off leading the race all the way to the finish line. Emirates Team New Zealand needed to finish in 6th place or higher to keep their lead and fought all the way from the back, climbing into 7th place at the finish. It looked like they had lost their overall lead to Red Bull Extreme Sailing. But post-racing video footage proved that Emirates Team New Zealand were not in fact over the line and redress upgraded the team to 4th place - the overall lead at the halfway stage remains with the Kiwi team for now.
The Swiss team of Alinghi, skippered by Tanguy Cariou and helmed by ex-Groupe Edmond de Rothschild skipper Yann Guichard, had a strong day and has climbed into third place. Max Sirena’s Luna Rossa team, helmed by 2010 champion Paul Campbell-James, also had a strong day winning the first race of the day to climb from 6th overall yesterday to 4th overall today.
For Roland Gaebler’s Team Extreme they were ecstatic to score their first race win of 2011: “It is only the second round for us so we do not have a lot of experience, so winning a race today is very nice. Especially as we had the mayor of Qingdao onboard, he kept smiling all the way! It's not just a race that we have won today, I really hope that it will bring awareness of professional sailing in the area. Chinese sailors are really talented here so they deserve to be in the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series with their own boat.”
Tomorrow is the first day of ‘stadium’ racing when the Act 2 in Qingdao opens formally to the public. “Obviously, it will be a completely different game tomorrow with the stadium racing,” said Hagara. “There is still a long way to go and a lot can still be won. The important thing is to stay in the leading pack and probably the final day will be the decisive. For sure, which Extreme 40 team gets to lift the Double Star Cup for the Extreme Sailing Series Qingdao is far from decided."
April 15th 2011
DAY 3: EXTREME! A major collision, 4 capsizes, 1 broken mast
Extreme Sailing Series, Act 2, Qingdao (China) 15th April 2011
Never in four years of the Extreme Sailing Series has there been so much drama in one day. In almost unprecedented conditions here in Qingdao, the public witnessed some extraordinary adrenalin fueled ‘stadium’ racing, first witnessing a major collision between The Wave, Muscat (OMAN) and Oman Air (OMAN) at the first downwind mark of the first race, and four dramatic capsizes - The Wave, Muscat (OMAN) in Race 2 and Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT), Team GAC Pindar (GBR) and Oman Air (OMAN) all in the final race of the day. In the first two races it was the very gusty conditions that tested some of the world’s best sailors to their limits, and beyond, with 3 to 23 knots, and up to 30 knots by the final race. “Massive day! The only way to describe it is extreme! The wind was funneling through the big buildings of the city, really puffy and shifty, it caught a lot of people out,” Will Howden, Red Bull Extreme Sailing.
Skipper of The Wave, Muscat, Torvar Mirsky, in his first Extreme 40 season, was to have his toughest day yet, firstly in race 1 accelerating in to the back of Oman Air right at the first downwind mark with the impact throwing crewman Dave “Freddie’ Carr in to the shroud (a cable holding the mast up), and then soon after in Race 2 suffering a catastrophic capsize. Freddie has been given the ‘ok’ but will remain in hospital for observation for 48 hours.
“I can honestly say that this is the worst day of sailing I’ve ever had,” commented a visibly shaken Mirsky, the youngest skipper on the circuit. “First of all taking out Freddie and then in the second race, we got hit by a gust that I couldn’t handle and the boat went down and we all knew straight away that it was going to go over and to hold on. We were trapped and doomed for a disaster. Kyle and I got flicked off from the top and fell onto the mast and snapped it.” [full sequence has been captured on video] The Wave, Muscat were accelerating away after a ‘hot’ bear away and gybe at the final top mark, and lost control as a gust hit and span them in to a very fast cartwheel.
The conditions on the second day of Act 2 guaranteed that these fast and powerful Extreme 40s were going to be a handful even for these experienced professional crews. By the third race the 11-boat fleet had been told to put a reef in and keep their massive downwind gennakers furled. A sensible measure, but not enough to stop three further capsizes in the final race when the gusts were reaching 30 knots. Roman Hagara’s Red Bull Extreme Sailing was chasing for the lead in the final race and was just meters from the pedestrian breakwater when they capsized: “We saw a gust coming which we knew was really hard. The wind was 5 knots when we went into the gybe and 25 after. We dived immediately and then capsized. We went so quickly. All four of us were hanging on because we know what happens from the last time, so we were all safe and luckily we had lifejackets and helmets on and nobody got hurt.” [*Red Bull Extreme Sailing capsized at the Muscat event in January 2010 during the Extreme Sailing Series Asia]
Whilst Red Bull Extreme Sailing was being righted by their support RIB, British skipper Ian Williams, who is new to this multihull game, was the next capsize victim as he closed in on the downwind mark a little too ‘hot’ along with Oman Air (back out racing with a replacement crew). Oman Air’s skipper Frenchman Sidney Gavignet bailed out, but when trying to bear away to come back down to the mark a second time, a powerful gust during a tight turn, sent them also hurtling in to a capsize.
Emirates Team New Zealand stayed out of trouble and retained the top position on the leaderboard ahead of Alinghi in 2nd and Red Bull Extreme Sailing finish in 3rd place today.
The pit lane is busy tonight as man and machine are put back together. Red Bull Extreme Sailing was righted with mast intact despite rubbing on the bottom of Fushan Bay, Team GAC Pindar was righted with mast intact and towed back in albeit missing one of their daggerboards. Both teams expect to be racing tomorrow. The Wave, Muscat suffered a broken mast and full inversion, with the extent of the damage still to be assessed. Oman Air spent some hours fully inverted and is now back in the harbour, with its condition yet to be established.
Current overall standings after Day 3 (15.4.11)
Position / Team / Skipper & crew / Points
1st Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Dean Barker / Glenn Ashby / Jeremy Lomas / Richard Meacham 134 points
2nd Alinghi (SUI), Tanguy Cariou / Yann Guichard / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey 127 points
3rd Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT), Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Will Howden / Craig Monk 124 points
4th Luna Rossa (ITA), Max Sirena / Paul Campbell-James / Alister Richardson / Manuel Modena 124 points
5th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec / Christophe Espagnon / Thierry Fouchier / Hervé Cunningham 116 points
6th Artemis Racing (SWE), Santiago Lange / Rodney Ardern / Morgan Trubovich / Andy Fethers 96 points
7th The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Torvar Mirsky / Kyle Langford / Nick Hutton / Khamis Al Anbouri 81 points
8th Niceforyou (ITA), Alberto Barovier / Mark Bulkeley / Daniele de Luca Simone de Mari 81 points
9th Team Extreme (EUR), Roland Gaebler / Bruno Dubois / Sebbe Godefroid / William Wu 75 points
10th Oman Air (OMA), Sidney Gavignet / Kinley Fowler / David Carr / Nasser Al Mashari 57 points
11th Team GAC Pindar (GBR), Ian Williams / Brad Webb / Gilberto Nobili / Jono Macbeth 27 points