April 4, 2012
China Team make it 9 for Act 2 of Extreme Sailing Series in Qingdao
In less than two weeks times, the Extreme 40s will take to the waters of the 2008 Olympic sailing venue in Qingdao, China, for Act 2 of the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series™. China Team, the home nation challenger for the America’s Cup will be flying the flag as a wildcard entry, and taking on the established 8 full Series teams that have already fought each other hard in Muscat. The teams will be vying for glory to win the Doublestar Cup in Qingdao, organised in association with the Qingdao Yachting Association.
China Team will arrive in Qingdao fresh from competing in the America’s Cup World Series, Naples. Kiwi Phil Robertson, whose match racing team Waka Racing finished eighth in the 2011 World Match Racing Tour, will lead the team, and at just 25 years old, Robertson is the youngest competing skipper. Despite having never sailed an Extreme 40 before, the young skipper is confident China Team can hold their own against the more experienced Extreme 40 teams: "Qingdao is a big event for China Team,” said Robertson. “It's a great opportunity to showcase to our local crowd that we can match it with the best in the world. We have a very tight schedule getting from the AC World Series to Qingdao, but will put up a good fight. We are looking forward to some home support from the people of Qingdao".
Joining Robertson will be fellow New Zealander and Waka Racing teammate, Garth Ellingham on mainsail. Nick Catley, an experienced skiff sailor brings the Kiwi contingent up to three as the team bowman, while aspiring Chinese sailing star Kit Cheng will take on the role of trimmer. Cheng is looking forward to sailing on his home waters: “I am really excited to be part of China Team and representing China,” Cheng said. “One of the things that we need to improve on as a team is more consistency and sailing in the Extreme Sailing Series, and especially in China, is the perfect opportunity for us to gain more experience in sailing together and improving our teamwork. I, for one, need to sail more and I intend to learn all that I can during these races and also giving back as much as I can as well.”
Cheng is no stranger to high performance sailing, having spent the last 14 years competing at an international level in the Olympic 420 class and 49er dinghies, as well as keelboats, before recently making his multihull debut on the China Team AC45 in August 2011.
Joining the team in the fifth position is renowned Chinese female Olympic sailor, Xiaqun Song. Song will truly be at home on the waters in Qingdao, the city in which she grew-up, and where she finished eighth in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in the Yngling class.
In 2011, Qingdao, known as China’s ‘City of Sailing’ tested the sailors to the extreme, resulting in four capsizes, the highest number of capsizes ever witnessed in a single day, a major collision and one broken mast. It was the Italian team, Luna Rossa who stayed out of trouble to win the action-packed event, before ultimately going on to claim the 2011 Series title in Singapore last December. Luna Rossa’s achievements in the Extreme Sailing Series were officially recognised last month in Rome where the team, who are now focused on the America’s Cup, were awarded boat of the year in what was the 20th edition of Il Velista del Anno; an awards ceremony that rewards the best Italian sailing talent, boats designers and boats. Click here to take a look back at 2011, when Qingdao pushed the sailors to the extreme.
Don't miss CNN Mainsail this month as double Olympic gold medalist and CNN Mainsail presenter Shirley Robertson goes behind the scenes at the first Act of the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series in Muscat, Oman which was won by ‘newbie’ skipper Morgan Larson on Oman Air. Robertson spent time with some of multihull sailings key players, including Alinghi skipper and America’s Cup veteran Ernesto Bertarelli, Jules Verne record holder and skipper of ZouLou, Loick Peyron and former British Olympian Leigh McMillan who has rediscovered multihull sailing as skipper of The Wave, Muscat. All broadcast times are GMT. Click here for more details.
Thursday, 12th April: 10:30 & 17:30
Saturday, 14th April: 08:30 & 22:00
Sunday, 15th April: 17:30
Saturday, 5th May: 17:30
Sunday, 6th May: 08:30 & 22:00
April 12, 2012
China’s ‘City of Sailing’ prepares to welcome Extreme 40 fleet
Act 2 of the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series™ is rapidly approaching with less than one week until the iconic city of Qingdao plays host to the nine competing international teams. The fleet will go head-to-head from the 17 to 20 April as the Series returns to the 2008 Olympic venue for the second consecutive year, a venue that lends itself perfectly to the stadium style racing.
The Omani-flagged teams Oman Air and The Wave, Muscat have the advantage as they head to China, having scored a one-two respectively on their home waters during the opening round of the Series. Morgan Larson and his Oman Air crew snatched the win from Pierre Pennec’s men on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild during the final race of the final day, and for pre-season favourite Pennec, the gloves are well and truly off. “Last year I entered into Act 2 in Qingdao too conservatively. This year, it will be different. To be ahead of the game we will need to take some risks. The level of the fleet will be surely higher than what we saw in Muscat a few weeks ago.” Pennec continued, “Qingdao is a very interesting playing field that demands that every opportunity is seized and to be versatile.” For standings after Act 1 click here.
Qingdao holds some very vivid memories for many of the sailors, many of who represented their nations on these waters at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Amongst them is Red Bull Sailing Team skipper and double Olympic gold medallist Roman Hagara, who has fond memories of sailing in Qingdao. "I am looking forward to the race in Qingdao. It is like a second hometown for me. We spent a month in China before the Olympic Games for training on the Tornado, and it was great to participate at the Olympics of course.”
Red Bull Sailing Team was one of four teams to capsize in Qingdao in 2011, during an unprecedented day that has become one of the most memorable in the history of the Series. Ian Williams and the British GAC Pindar were also amongst those to fall victim to the extraordinary conditions in Fushan Bay as Williams remembered, “Qingdao threw everything at us last year and consequently was a huge learning experience for the whole team. This year we will be much better prepared for whatever comes our way.” Williams and the team put in a solid performance during Act 1, finishing in fifth place, and is optimistic they have more to give. Williams continued, “Last year Luna Rossa won the Qingdao Act after finishing fifth in Oman which shows that things can turn around fast and certainly we’ll be looking for an improvement from our Oman finishing position.”
The public is expected to be out in force during the public days (18-20 April) supporting Chinese sailors Kit Cheng and Xiaqun Song onboard local boat China Team. 2008 Olympian in the Yngling class, Xiaqun is one of only two women competing - the other is Britain’s Rachel Williamson on The Wave, Muscat - and as a Qingdao resident, Xiaqun had some local insight to share with the fleet. “Last year a few boats had problems during one windy day, but I would say mostly it will be light and tricky weather again this time. I was on the Race Committee boat last year and everybody gets a chance to lead the fleet because the conditions vary so they can favour different teams at different times. The racing takes place close to shore which gives an excellent view for the public.”
There will be a few new faces on the start line in Qingdao as four of the teams announce crew changes. Regular Alinghi crew Pierre-Yves Jorand from Switzerland will be taking over as skipper from Ernesto Bertarelli, paving the way for 2011 Team TILT crew Charles Favre (SUI) to jump onboard as helm. 2010 Danish sailor of the year and World Match Racing Tour champion from the same year, Christian Kamp, will take over from Britain’s Simon Hiscocks on the Danish entry. Making their Extreme 40 debuts in Qingdao are both Patrick Aucour, who will join Loick Peyron’s ZouLou in place of Antoine Joubert, and Romain Petit who will replace Adeline Chatenet on the all-French team Groupe Edmond de Rothschild. For full crew lists click here.
Watch the race coverage online
Fans can watch the race coverage from Qingdao online and enjoy all the action from the multi-camera coverage, complete with commentary by Britain’s best-known sailing commentator, Richard Simmonds. Race coverage will be streamed via the official website from Wednesday 18 April. Times to be confirmed.
April 17, 2012
Austria’s Red Bull Sailing Team lead in China
Despite Act 2 not opening officially to the public until tomorrow, thousands thronged to the breakwater to see the Extreme 40s in action on the first day of racing. The biggest support went out to China Team in their Extreme 40 debut and with two men-overboard incidents, the action was full-on. But it was the Austrian team of Red Bull Sailing skippered by Roman Hagara with his Olympic partner, Hans Peter Steinacher as tactician, who used their knowledge of the Olympic waters to edge ahead and top the leaderboard by the end of play on day 1.
Six open-water races were staged today, which saw four different race winners. Racing took place just outside of the breakwater, close enough for the public to follow the action, during a light breeze day, which required shrewd tactics from the sailors, as Roman Hagara explained: “It was difficult because of the light winds and their was a lot of tide so it was fairly unpredictable out there. If you were in a good position on the start line then you would do well. By the end of the day the wind had picked up and we could get the hull out of the water.”
The battle at the top of the leaderboard was supremely close between Red Bull Sailing Team, The Wave, Muscat and GAC Pindar. The British crew led by match-racing supremo Ian Williams on GAC Pindar made an early bid for the leaderboard, claiming the first race win of the Act, but Leigh McMillan’s The Wave, Muscat were waiting to pounce, claiming victory in the following two races. McMillan went on to win an impressive third race in race five of the day, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Hagara’s men: “It was a really good day for us – we are happy with the result,” said McMillan. “Red bull had an outstanding day and even when we were winning races they were right behind us so it was very difficult for us to get away from them.”
China Team displayed moments of real potential, including a fourth place in the second race of the day, which considering the crew only stepped on to race for the first time today shows the calibre of these professionals. However, two separate incidents show how quickly even the pros can get caught out as skipper Phil Robertson explained, “We loved it! There are a lot of positive we can take out of today and we are very happy with how we ended up – although a couple of us went swimming which wasn’t ideal. We were having our best race and were coming into the last mark when we lost Nick (Catley) our bowman over board. That was a shocker! Second time round…it was me and that was before the race even started,” admitted a rather sheepish Robertson. "I was trying to fix some rudder issues and I fell off the back with a minute to go. So it was a disappointing end but we are happy”.
Oman Air struggled to find their impressive form from Act 1 in Muscat, which saw them claim victory on their home turf just six weeks ago: “We were under no illusion that Qingdao would be easy just because we won the first event,” stated a philosophical Morgan Larson. A late comeback in the final race and a race win leaves the team in fifth place, four points shy of the French team Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, who also had a mixed day on the water. With plenty of races still to come, the teams will be assessing their performance on the water today and planning how to attack or defend as Act 2 goes into stadium race mode from tomorrow. In a similar scenario to Act 1, Muscat, both Hagara and Williams excelled in the early phase only to fade away to the dominance of Larson’s Oman Air team and the Series favourites on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild.
The event was officially inaugurated tonight at the grand opening ceremony, hosted by the Qingdao Yachting Association (QDYA). The show began with a stunning light show and music, with local performers enacting traditional Chinese dances. Each crew member bearing their national flag was presented to the crowds, as they presented a gift to their hosts. The ceremony took place at Octagonal Square within the Olympic village, with over 2,000 local guests gathering to witness the spectacle. The show culminated with a spectacular fireworks show.
Tomorrow is the first of three public days with even more locals expected to descend on the Olympic village to watch the stadium racing that will be staged inside the breakwater of Fushan Bay. Racing starts at 1300 local time and for the fans not here in Qingdao, a LIVE REPLAY of the race coverage is available on the official event website from 1330 CET.
The 2012 Extreme Magazine, the official companion to the Series is now available online. Take a look behind the scenes at the Series that has redefined yacht racing, and meet the men behind the machines. The magazine includes insightful and entertaining features by leading sailing and sports journalists including BBC Sport’s Rob Hodgetts, Justin Chisholm editor of Sail Race Magazine, DailySail editor James Boyd and David Fuller from yachtracing.biz combined with fantastic action pix from Mark Lloyd. To read the magazine, click here.
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 2, Qingdao, China standings after Day 1, 6 races (17.4.12)
Position / Team / Points
1st Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Matthew Adams, Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche 47 points
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Ed Smyth, Pete Greenhalgh, Hashim Al Rashdi, Rachel Williamson 44 points
3rd GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams, Mark Ivey, Mark Bulkeley, Adam Piggot, Andrew Walsh 37 points
4th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec, Jean-Christophe Mourniac, Hervé Cunningham, Bernard Labro, Romain Petit 32 points
5th Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, Will Howden, Charlie Ogletree, Nasser Al Mashari, Max Bulger 28 points
6th Alinghi (SUI), Pierre-Yves Jorand, Tanguy Cariou, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey, Charles Favre 26 points
7th ZouLou (FRA) Loick Peyron, Philippe Mourniac, Jean-Sébastien Ponce, Bruno Jeanjean, Patrick Aucour 24 points
8th China Team (CHN) Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Kit Cheng, Nick Catley, Xiaqun Song 18 points
9th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Kostner, Pete Cumming, Christian Kamp, Jonas Hviid 14 points
April 18, 2012
Big Wednesday in Qingdao at Halfway Stage of Act 2
The Extreme Sailing Series fleet went into stadium sailing mode today and the intensity on the water ramped up a notch, with plenty of close calls, contact between the boats, penalties and an incredible 11 false starts from the 8 races. To the satisfaction of Austrian skipper, Roman Hagara, Red Bull Sailing Team managed to hold onto their lead, but the remainder of the fleet reshuffled the leaderboard at the end of play on day 2. Hagara is not a man to easily show his emotions but he looked visibly pleased when he stepped on to the stage after racing. His widest smile came when the Chinese commentator asked him ‘Why he was so handsome?’! Hagara is a bit of a local hero here in a city that is proud of its Olympic culture, having a double-Olympic gold medallist in their midst is a huge draw.
Racing started in 12 knots of breeze, within the confines of the natural stadium of Fushan Bay, the fleet had to contend with big gusts up to 17 knots funneling through the city skyline making the bear-away turn at the final mark a tense moment. With the 50m run to the finish boxed in either side by concrete, the Extreme 40 crews had to get it right as they hauled out the massive gennaker, bows digging in before sprinting to the finish. Getting it wrong, or fouling another boat coming into the turning mark, would have ended with a visit to the pit-lane for repairs!
It was all about the nailing the reaching start line today which proved problematic with 6 of the 9 teams being punished for being too eager off the line, putting them at an immediate disadvantage as they fought to claw back places. The Wave, Muscat notched up three false starts – and added another to their tally in the opening race when they mistakenly thought they were over the line. The team managed to hold onto their second place position overall, much to skipper Leigh McMillan’s surprise. “I’ve got no idea how we are where we are! I think we got lucky and had a few gains in a few races… I think we got away with it today. To be in second position is massive shock. I thought the rest of the fleet were long gone, so its good to still be in the mix.”
Red Bull Sailing Team hold onto the top spot at the end of day two despite the efforts of the rest of the fleet - in particular those of Oman Air and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild who managed to make significant in-roads on the Austrian team’s points lead. Although the French team’s mainsail trimmer, Hervé Cunningham, was far from impressed: “The result is good but we made so many mistakes on board and we’ve really got to step up and get the level higher if we want to get a good result here. Roman is one step ahead and his team is one of the best boats on the water for the season, and we’re not going to achieve anything if we keep sailing like this.”
Record breaking round the world sailor Loick Peyron and his French flagged-team ZouLou had their best day since making their Extreme 40 debut in Muscat, consistently sailing at the top end of the fleet with their first race win in race two and three further top three finishes. Their efforts were enough to climb a place on the leaderboard, finishing the day in sixth place.
The local contingent China Team continued to draw in the crowds with 2008 Olympic sailor Yngling Summer Song on board. After frustratingly having to retire from race six to repair a broken gennaker furling line, the team made a sterling effort to come back in race seven to claim their first podium position. Kiwi skipper Phil Robertson was pleased with the team’s performance but looking for improvements: “We were within the top three around the first mark in pretty much every race so the starts were great but from then it didn´t go as well. The conditions were perfect. It´s very difficult and frustrating at times but we are really enjoying the short and fast races.”
The newest team on the circuit and the Series’ first ever Danish representatives SAP Extreme Sailing Team began to find their feet in the stronger winds, winning their first race in the colours of their newly announced sponsor SAP. Ramus Kostner, one of the team’s two Danish skippers said “In the fourth race we had a really good start on the other guys and we were straight to the first mark in the lead and then just opened up the gap a little bit more. So for the whole race we could just enjoy looking at the fleet from the lead and that was a great feeling!” SAP Extreme Sailing Team climbs a place on the leaderboard to eighth.
As the Extreme 40s go into the penultimate day tomorrow, the teams can expect plenty of more close racing on the short stadium courses as they fight to secure their positions on the leaderboard before the final day. Current event leader Roman Hagara was under no illusions that his position is safe. “All of the teams are really strong contenders - we could see it already in Oman. Due to our experience in Qingdao we could be regarded as the experts in open waters where we were yesterday but not inside the harbour. I think all the teams know what goes on inside the harbour.”
LIVE REPLAY of penultimate day’s race coverage will be available online at 1330 CET tomorrow (19 April).
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 2, Qingdao, China standings after Day 2, 14 races (18.4.12)
Position / Team / Points
1st Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Matthew Adams / Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche 90 points
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan / Ed Smyth / Pete Greenhalgh / Hashim Al Rashdi / Rachel Williamson 83 points
3rd Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson / Will Howden / Charlie Ogletree / Nasser Al Mashari / Max Bulger 79 points
4th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec / Jean-Christophe Mourniac / Hervé Cunningham / Bernard Labro / Romain Petit 78 points
5th GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams / Mark Ivey / Mark Bulkeley / Adam Piggot / Andrew Walsh 75 points
6th ZouLou (FRA) Loick Peyron / Philippe Mourniac / Jean-Sébastien Ponce / Bruno Jeanjean / Patrick Aucour 72 points
7th Alinghi (SUI), Pierre-Yves Jorand / Tanguy Cariou / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey / Charles Favre 68 points
8th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen / Rasmus Kostner / Pete Cumming / Christian Kamp / Jonas Hviid 50 points
9th China Team (CHN) Phil Robertson / Garth Ellingham / Kit Cheng / Nick Catley / Xiaqun Song 34 points
Last edited by mpowlison; 04-19-2012 at 09:30 AM.
April 19, 2012
McMillan overhauls Hagara’s 17-race reign to lead going into final day
The Austrian Red Bull Sailing Team came out to defend their position on the penultimate day of racing here in Qingdao, only to see their dominance toppled by the Omani flagged The Wave, Muscat. Britain’s Ian Williams and his crew had a strong day, climbing from 5th overall yesterday to 3rd, raising the hopes of the team of making the podium for the first time. After 8 closely contested races on Fushan Bay only 10 points separate the top 3 boats going into the final day of Act 2 tomorrow.
On the first day of racing in Qingdao, The Wave, Muscat’s Leigh McMillan said the team were ‘scratching their heads’ as they tried to figure out the tricky conditions - and today it certainly seem like they had it sussed, coming out all guns blazing to win the opening two races, leaving them tied on points with Red Bull Sailing Team. It was a game of cat and mouse between Austria and Oman for the first five races with Red Bull Sailing Team temporarily regaining control in race 18, but in the next race The Wave, Muscat overhauled them, putting an end to their reign at the top of the leaderboard. A frustrated, but still optimistic, Hagara said: “It was not our best day, we had some really bad starts and it was really hard picking the right shifts and gusts on the racecourse so we made a lot of mistakes. But it’s good that we’re still in there and tomorrow it’s a big day. We try to be up until the last race and then we’ll see who is going to win. Everybody has their ups and downs, and we had our ‘down’ today so, hopefully, we’ll have our ‘up’ tomorrow!”
Going into the final race of the day, The Wave, Muscat had an unassailable lead but only have a slender point advantage going into the final day: “It is very close for the top 4 or 5 so anyone can take it. 10-12 points doesn´t mean anything in this kind of racing. If we sail well we will have the chance to win so that´s what we need to do,” said McMillan. Find out more about the Austrian team's onboard dynamics in this video.
Series favourite Pierre Pennec (no doubt cursing his ‘Form Guide’ accolade) and his all French team on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild looked like they were on form for the opening two races today but it quickly turned nasty when they got stuck on a mark and had to watch the rest of the fleet sail on. Things didn’t improve much for the team in the next race, who were penalized for a false start leaving them lagging in eighth place. A win in the final race provided some consolation for Pennec, who also celebrated his birthday today, but not much as the team slip a place to fifth overall – 1 point shy of Oman Air. Find out more about Oman Air’s skipper here.
At the other end of the fleet, the two new teams on the start line China Team and SAP Extreme Sailing Team have struggled against the more experienced Extreme 40s, and are in 9th and 8th respectively. Alinghi are 10 points clear of SAP Extreme Sailing Team but will have a hard task to catch 6th placed Loick Peyron on ZouLou who sailed consistently at the top end of the fleet today and hold a 12 point lead over the Swiss.
The city of Qingdao has undertaken a huge marketing campaign around the event with billboards lining the streets from the airport to port. Today Qingdao TV broadcast the race coverage live which in turn was syndicating to 11 other channels, including the hugely popular Beijing TV.
The official Series weather forecasters, WetterWelt, has forecasted light winds and a risk of fog, meaning the teams will have to be slick in their tactics to make gains on the racecourse. There are plenty of points still to play for and the all important double-points final race decider, giving plenty of opportunities for the teams to make their final bid for victory.
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 2, Qingdao, China standings after Day 3, 22 races (19.4.12)
Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan / Ed Smyth / Pete Greenhalgh / Hashim Al Rashdi / Rachel Williamson 190 points
2nd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Matthew Adams / Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche 131 points
3rd GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams / Mark Ivey / Mark Bulkeley / Adam Piggot / Andrew Walsh 129 points
4th Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson / Will Howden / Charlie Ogletree / Nasser Al Mashari / Max Bulger 125 points
5th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec / Jean-Christophe Mourniac / Hervé Cunningham / Bernard Labro / Romain Petit 125 points
6th ZouLou (FRA) Loick Peyron / Philippe Mourniac / Jean-Sébastien Ponce / Bruno Jeanjean / Patrick Aucour 115 points
7th Alinghi (SUI), Pierre-Yves Jorand / Tanguy Cariou / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey / Charles Favre 93 points
8th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen / Rasmus Kostner / Pete Cumming / Christian Kamp / Jonas Hviid 83 points
9th China Team (CHN) Phil Robertson / Garth Ellingham / Kit Cheng / Nick Catley / Xiaqun Song 50 points