The opening day of the UK round of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week opened at full throttle delivering some stunning race action to the crowds lining Cowes shoreline at Egypt Point as the nine Extreme 40s took centre stage for five short course races this afternoon.
After the offshore morning race from the Royal Yacht Squadron to the mainland at Calshot, won by Mike Golding’s Ecover Sailing Team, the afternoon inshore racing started in earnest. After a gloomy start, the sun kicked in and lit up the race course as a solid 12-18 knots of wind built and the spectators that sat out all afternoon were rewarded for their dedication as the nine Extreme 40s scorched around the very short race courses, often with their bows down and rudders out drawing gasps and cheers from the public. The short courses and their proximity to the shore combined with the wind ensured the pace was frenetic, forcing plenty of mistakes, keeping the umpires on their toes and the Extreme crews having to think fast on their feet.
Double Olympic Gold Medallist Roman Hagara and his Red Bull Extreme Sailing came out of the starting blocks on a mission but the conditions proved challenging in more ways than one, as Hagara summed up: “We crashed into a rock in the first race [long offshore], won the second race and will try and forget the rest of the day! One pre-start, one penalty and some mistakes.... We know that we can do it in a better way.”
Newcomers Veolia Environnement had their first extreme drama in the very first race when, just metres after the start in the afternoon, they collided with a mooring bouy ripping the helm out of skipper Roland Jourdain’s hand and breaking the starboard rudder. It put them out of action for the day ,but Veolia Environnement will be back on the start line for tomorrow.
It was Loick Peyron and his crew that put in the most consistent performance of the afternoon starting with a fifth, then three second places and a bullet in the last race to put Oman Sail Masirah at the top of the leaderboard at the end of Day 1 with 46 points: “We work together to keep consistent because that's what count here. Our objective is to make the top 4 in each race,” said Peyron.
Ecover’s combined local knowledge of the Solent waters put Golding’s team in the running, finishing day 1 in second place on the leaderboard - the best result ever in his second year of campaigning in the Extreme Sailing Series: “The main thing about today is that we loved the win to begin with but the key thing for us was that we were consistent in pretty much every race and really that’s the key to it," said Golding. "If we can be consistent tomorrow and don’t mind if we go the whole day without a bullet so long as we’re consistently doing well in the regatta."
Golding continued: “It was right on the limit today – the whole racecourse was very, very short and the differences between the front boat and the back boat were minuscule. It’s so easy to lose places and if you make one mistake you can drop three or four places, but you can win it back if you keep your game together. The fact that everything was happening at such a frenetic pace you can’t really think at that pace as there is so much happening, it’s hard to take it all in. It’s lovely here at Cowes – great venue, great shorefront and we can see and hear the people on the shore cheering and yelling, and that’s a great feeling which is unusual in sailing."
Hot favourites Yann Guichard’s crew on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, found the conditions testing and finished in third place on the leaderboard with 38 points. It may take Guichard’s crew a while to get used to the vagaries of The Solent, but no one is under-estimating their potential.
|1||OMAN SAIL MASIRAH||Loick Peyron||2||5||2||2||2||1||46|
|2||ECOVER SAILING TEAM||Mike Golding||1||4||4||6||3||3||39|
|3||GROUPE EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD||Yann Guichard||3||8||3||1||1||6||38|
|4||THE WAVE, MUSCAT||Paul Campbell-James||7||3||1||5||5||2||37|
|5||GROUPAMA 40||Franck Cammas||4||6||5||3||8||4||30|
|6||THE OCEAN RACING CLUB||Mitch Booth||5||2||6||7||4||7||29|
|7||RED BULL EXTREME SAILING||Roman Hagara||6||1||8||8||6||8||23|
|8||TEAM GAC PINDAR||Nick Moloney||8||7||7||4||7||5||22|
|9||VEOLIA ENVIRONMENT||Roland Jourdain||9||DNF||DNS||DNS||DNS||DNS||1|