The Wave, Muscat on fire
The Wave, Muscat put in a first-class performance today on the first day of stadium racing winning five out of the six races, claiming pole position going into the penultimate day at the Extreme Sailing Series in Trapani. Leigh McMillan and his team were seamless in their starts, boat handling and called all the right shots. They seemed unstoppable until Ben Ainslie on Oman Air and Roman Hagara’s Red Bull Extreme Sailing broke their winning streak.
Trapani again delivered excellent racing conditions with a good 15 knots of breeze, and plenty of action for the spectators to get excited about. “It was a really fantastic day for us, we are ecstatic,” said The Wave skipper Leigh McMillan. “It is the first time this year we have had results like that. We have done our work today but we still have to go out tomorrow and perform again.”
The Swiss Alinghi team started strongly today, but then faltered: a third place in the final race helped consolidate their defence against the Italian Luna Rossa. The two teams had been trading punches all afternoon in front of the public who were giving their very vocal support to the ‘home’ teams of Luna Rossa, Niceforyou and Team Extreme Sailing Seacily. It came to a head in the penultimate race when Max Sirena’s team lost out in a port/starboard incident and a penalty put them last: “Today was completely different to yesterday on the ‘open water’ sailing,” said Sirena. “It was really hard to sail in clear air and we play with all the other teams to try to have the best start but, unfortunately, we had two false starts which was really hard to come back. Tonight we will analyse our mistakes and tomorrow we will try not to make them.”
Ben Ainslie and his team on Oman Air thrived in the close combat racing today, climbing into 4th place in the standings: “Today was amazing,” said Ainslie. “It was like nothing I have ever experienced before. I couldn’t quite believe it before the racing and I said to the guys ‘Is this really the size of the race course?’ and they said that this was quite a big course! It was great racing, lots of incidents and good breeze. This is a great opportunity for me as I have been sailing the Finn now for eight months and it’s great to have a break.” Ainslie used his legendary competitive streak and match racing skills to the full today. Knowing exactly what his rights were and forcing the others to make errors, as witnessed in the second race of the day when Ainslie barged his way to the finish line with the law on his side. Paul Campbell-James failed to take avoiding action quick enough and was penalised. pre-racing Campbell-James said: “He [Ainslie] is very good at the boat on boat aspect and you can see that from the last two Olympic medal races where he just took out the opposition. And that is what it will be like today.” He wasn’t wrong!
Pierre Pennec’s team on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild were consistent today finishing higher than fifth place in all but one race, and it was only a 9th place in the first race that saw the all-French team drop to fifth overall. Roman Hagara’s Red Bull Extreme Sailing held onto their 6th place ahead of ETNZ with a strong performance including a race win and three 3rd places. As Team GAC Pindar’s Ian Williams said yesterday, the lack of boat speed that punished them on the longer ‘open water’ courses over the last two days did not play such a factor on the short stadium courses and Team GAC Pindar climb into 8th place.
There are still plenty of points to play for over the remaining two days of stadium racing and the sailors know the tables could still be turned.
Extreme Sailing Series Act 6 at Trapani supported by Telecom Italia - Overall standings after 17 races
Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Leigh McMillan / Kyle Langford / Nick Hutton / Khamis Al Anbouri 142 points
2nd Alinghi (SUI), Tanguy Cariou / Yann Guichard / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey 136 points
3rd Luna Rossa (ITA), Max Sirena / Paul Campbell-James / Alister Richardson / Manuel Modena 129 points
4th Oman Air (OMA), Ben Ainslie / Kinley Fowler / David Carr / Nasser Al Mashari 124.5 points
5th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec / Christophe Espagnon / Thierry Fouchier / Hervé Cunningham 124 points
6th Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT), Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Matt Adams / Craig Monk 119 points
7th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Adam Beashel / Jeremy Lomas / Richard Meacham / Rob Waddell 65.5 points
8th Niceforyou (ITA), Alberto Barovier / Stefano Rizzi / Lorenzo Mazza / Simone de Mari 59 points
9th Team GAC Pindar (GBR), Ian Williams / Pierluigi De Felice / Andrew Walsh / Ed Smyth 52 points
10th Team Extreme ‘Sailing Seacily’ (EUR), Sebbe Godefroid / Patrick Demesmaeker / Jan Coppens / Vince Thery 40 points