Eight points separate leaders
At the halfway stage of the Extreme Sailing Series in Singapore, and the deciding round of the overall 2011 championship, the battle has intensified. Gunning for the overall 2011 prize, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and the Italian team of Luna Rossa are pushing each other hard and backing down is not an option - sometimes a costly option, as Luna Rossa found out in the last race today. Red Bull Sailing Team made a comeback in the final race, after losing the lead to Luna Rossa, causing Roman Hagara’s team to remain at the top of the Singapore leaderboard for a third day in a row: “I think it’s the first time in the series that we are still top of the leaderboard after three days and it looks good for us now,” said double Tornado Olympic medallist, Roman Hagara.
The conditions on Marina Bay were, once again, demanding – the wind unstable in both pressure and direction – and lightning-packed thunderstorms suspended racing again for a short while today. Regardless the racing was intense and five races produced five different winners today – Team TILT, Luna Rossa, Red Bull Sailing Team, Team GAC Pindar and The Wave, Muscat. However, it was the final race that produced the most drama…
Luna Rossa and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild were locked in their own private battle from start to finish. Max Sirena’s team looked to have the advantage, but it all went horribly wrong at the final mark: “We were in second or third with Gitana and we were trying to give them a bit of grief,” explained helmsman Paul Campbell-James. “Basically, it backfired on us and we got a penalty and ended up finishing last.” Their extensive points lead over Groupe Edmond de Rothschild quickly vanishing as the French team went on to finish the race in second putting them within 8 points of Luna Rossa in the Singapore standings: “That’s the way it is sometimes and you’ve got to know when to back down,” said Campbell-James. “With a 20-point lead, it’s probably the time to be a little bit passive. But we’re not good at being passive, we like being aggressive all the time and that was our downfall today. We’ve had lots of incidences with Gitana this week already and usually we’re coming off better. It’s an absolute fight in every race but we’ve got to know when to back down which we didn’t do today.”
The Italian team may be playing it cool, but it was an important psychological outcome for the French team skippered by Pierre Pennec with only two days of of racing left in Singapore: “It was a great to finish the day on a high note and good for the team’s morale,” said Pennec. “We still have work to do and we must raise our game to be able to beat Luna Rossa and take this championship.”
Chris Draper and the crew on Oman Air were in the hunt for their first win in Singapore and looked to have the final race of the day in the bag. However, their glory was dashed as the on-water umpires handed out a penalty and four other teams passed them as the Omani team performed their penalty.
Mid-leaderboard another close battle is developing between Oman Air, The Wave Muscat, Alinghi and Team GAC Pindar – all strong contenders in their own right. While Team Extreme – the first club and Team TILT are equal on 52 points and there are plenty of points still left to fight for over as Luna Rossa skipper, Max Sirena, philosophically stated: “There are many races to go still and anything can happen. Tomorrow is another day and I think until the last race we won’t know who is going to win the series.”
After racing Dean Barker, Chris Draper and Roman Hagara spoke about how they began their yacht racing careers. The world class and Olympic sailors had a captive audience of around 80 spectators which also included some young sailing fans, all invited by Singapore Sailing Federation.
Extreme Sailing Series Singapore results after 14 races
Position / Team / Points
1st Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT), Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Matt Adams / Craig Monk 96 points
2nd Luna Rossa (ITA), Max Sirena / Paul Campbell-James / Alister Richardson / Manuel Modena 93 points
3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Dean Barker / Glenn Ashby / James Dagg / Jeremy Lomas 91 points
4th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec / Christophe Espagnon / Thierry Fouchier / Hervé Cunningham 85 points
5th Oman Air (OMA), Chris Draper / Kinley Fowler / David Carr / Nasser Al Mashari 80 points
6th The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Leigh McMillan / Kyle Langford / Nick Hutton / Khamis Al Anbouri 78 points
7th Alinghi (SUI), Tanguy Cariou / Yann Guichard / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey 75 points
8th Team GAC Pindar (GBR), Ian Williams / Mark Bulkeley / Andrew Walsh / Matt Cornwell 68 points
9th Team Extreme – the first club™ (FRA), Sébastien Col / Jean-Christophe Mourniac / Franck Citeau / Christophe André 52 points
10th Team TILT (SUI), Alex Schneiter / Charles Favre / Arnaud Psarofaghis / Nicolas Heintz 52 points