Luna Rossa takes the lead
The penultimate day of Extreme Sailing Series Qingdao, dedicated to the Wei Chen local charity that helps the disadvantaged, proved to be the calm after the storm. Although another storm is forecast again for tomorrow! Light conditions saw the 11-boat Extreme 40 fleet race right inside Fushan Bay, the Saturday sunshine bringing out the public in their thousands. Max Sirena’s Luna Rossa won the final race to take the overall lead from Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand now tied with Alinghi, but by the smallest margin of just 3 points. “It’s been the first bad day of racing we’ve had and we’ve paid for it.” Barker’s team will be doing some soul searching tonight - after such great consistency, a couple of really bad races has cost them dearly.
Following yesterday's action-packed day that saw 4 capsizes, 1 big collision and a broken mast, the pitlane teams worked hard in to the night to get their boats ready for action again – mission accomplished. For the professional sailors it was business as usual today and it was particularly good to see Oman Air’s injured crew David ‘Freddie’ Carr joining the spectators after being discharged from hospital this morning, sore, but otherwise in good shape.
Today’s racing saw a multiple of formats starting with a flight of match racing, followed by straight-line duels and four fleet races. The Qingdao city skyline with the iconic red flame sculpture in the centre of 4th May Square, made a stunning backdrop for the slower but no less intense tactical game on the water. Luna Rossa’s performance was masterful and the team was clearly delighted: “It’s the first time this season that we're in the lead, we can't be much happier,” said helmsman Paul Campbell-James, who helmed the 2010 series winning boat. “We've been around the front for the last couple of days but we were still making some mistakes onboard. Not today - the team has done an awesome job. It might be hard to understand but it is as intense to race in these conditions as yesterday.”
It’s all to play for going into the final day for the Double Star Cup, with a gigantic battle for the podium and close fights all the way down the leaderboard. Luna Rossa go into the final day on 165 points, chased by Emirates Team New Zealand and Alinghi both on 162 points: “It's great to be in the leading seat tonight, but it is still really tight at the top,” said Campbell-James. “Tomorrow will be a big day and anything can still happen, especially with the weather front expected to hit Qingdao tomorrow.” Racing starts earlier tomorrow at 1100 local time, with race management concerned about a storm front expected to cross Qingdao during the early afternoon, packing potentially up to 35 knots of wind in it.
Alinghi had a strong day – three wins and a second place out of six races put them on the same points as Emirates Team New Zealand, “We are really happy tonight, the objective was to stick to the leading boat so it's perfect,” said helmsman Yann Guichard. “I'm really confident for tomorrow, we are in constant progress since day one and the spirit is very good onboard.”
Very much in touch with the top three is Group Edmond de Rothschild on 146 points and Red Bull Extreme Sailing right on 144. All of these top five boats can all still win overall, especially with the double points final race.
Even Artemis Racing with 114 points can mathematically still make the podium, but they are also under pressure from The Wave, Muscat on 111, and Team Extreme which scored another victory with Chinese sailor William Wu onboard as a highlight of a good day on 101 points. The all-Italian team Niceforyou are close to them on 94 points, Oman Air on 91 and Team GAC Pindar on 37.
The sailors’ nerves remain strained tonight, with the strong wind forecast for the final day. Yann Guichard concluded: “The game is still completely open for tomorrow. The forecast for tomorrow is really similar to yesterday with strong winds. But at the end of the day, it's always the same thing, you do your best to control the boat and cross the finish line first.”
Extreme Sailing Series Act 2 Qingdao - current overall standings after Day 4
Position / Team / Skipper & crew / Points
1st Luna Rossa (ITA), Max Sirena / Paul Campbell-James / Alister Richardson / Manuel Modena 165 points
2nd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Dean Barker / Glenn Ashby / Jeremy Lomas / Richard Meacham 162 points
3rd Alinghi (SUI), Tanguy Cariou / Yann Guichard / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey 162 points
4th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec / Christophe Espagnon / Thierry Fouchier / Hervé Cunningham 146 points
5th Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT), Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Will Howden / Craig Monk 144 points
6th Artemis Racing (SWE), Santiago Lange / Rodney Ardern / Morgan Trubovich / Andy Fethers 114 points
7th The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Torvar Mirsky / Kyle Langford / Nick Hutton / Khamis Al Anbouri 111 points
8th Team Extreme (EUR), Roland Gaebler / Bruno Dubois / Sebbe Godefroid / William Wu 101 points
9th Niceforyou (ITA), Alberto Barovier / Mark Bulkeley / Daniele de Luca Simone de Mari 94 points
10th Oman Air (OMA), Sidney Gavignet / Kinley Fowler / David Carr / Nasser Al Mashari 90 points
11th Team GAC Pindar (GBR), Ian Williams / Brad Webb / Gilberto Nobili / Jono Macbeth 37 points