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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Startline Carnage and Light Air - Extreme Sailing Series - Act 3 Qingdao - Day 1

There was action aplenty in China’s Olympic sailing city for the start of the Land Rover, Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 3 Qingdao. In the ‘Double Star Mingren’ Cup, 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.
Photo: © Lloyd Images
On the open water racecourse, Alinghi dominated in testing light winds and a strong tide to grab the overall lead at the end of day. Local boat, Team Extreme Qingdao, made an impressive debut performance that sees the team in third place, the best ever performance by a home nation invitational team.
Photo: © Lloyd Images
Oman Air had a shocker colliding with GAC Pindar in a start line tussle of the first race that left the boat with severe damage to her port hull, forcing the crew back to the pit lane.
Photo: © Lloyd Images
“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 but we were pumped to race.” said Oman Air's Skipper, Rob Greenhalgh.
Photo: © Lloyd Images
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.
Photo: © Lloyd Images
Local boat Team Extreme Qingdao, led by co-skippers Mitch Booth and Zhang Yiran this week had the golden touch. The team – who has only come together for this Act – posted a string of consistent results, keeping their nerve under the pressure.
Photo: © Lloyd Images
“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,” Booth said.
Photo: © Lloyd Images
The Swiss light wind lake specialists Realteam also had a good day showing flashes of the form they demonstrated in Act 1 Singapore, and finish the day tied on points with Team Extreme Qingdao. Skipper Jérôme 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.”
Photo: © Lloyd Images
After damaging their forestay in the first race of the day where they were forced to make some running repairs, 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.
Photo: © Lloyd Images
“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,” Skipper Roman Hagara said.
Photo: © Lloyd Images
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.

“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,” SAP's Co-Skipper Rasmus Køster said.

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. GAC Pindar struggled to compose themselves after their race one collision.
Photo: © Lloyd Images
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, 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,” Larson said.

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 by Realstone (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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