The Wave, Muscat noses ahead
Red Bull Sailing Team came out to defend their position on the penultimate day of racing here in Qingdao, only to see their dominance toppled by The Wave, Muscat. Britain’s Ian Williams and his crew had a strong day, climbing from fifth overall yesterday to third, raising the hopes of the team of making the podium for the first time. After eight closely contested races on Fushan Bay, only 10 points separate the top three boats going into the final day of racing tomorrow.
On the first day of racing in Qingdao, The Wave, Muscat skipper Leigh McMillan said the team were ‘scratching their heads’ as they tried to figure out the tricky conditions. but nd today it certainly seem like they had it figured out, coming out all guns blazing to win the opening two races, leaving them tied on points with Red Bull Sailing Team. It was a game of cat and mouse between the Austrian and Omani teams for the first five races, with Red Bull Sailing Team temporarily regaining control in race 18, but in the next race The Wave, Muscat overhauled them, putting an end to their reign at the top of the leaderboard.
A frustrated, but still optimistic, Hagara said: “It was not our best day. We had some really bad starts and it was really hard picking the right shifts and gusts on the racecourse so we made a lot of mistakes. But it’s good that we’re still in there and tomorrow it’s a big day. We try to be up until the last race and then we’ll see who is going to win. Everybody has their ups and downs, and we had our ‘down’ today so, hopefully, we’ll have our ‘up’ tomorrow!”
Going into the final race of the day, The Wave, Muscat only have a slender point advantage going into the final day: “It is very close for the top four or five, so anyone can take it," said McMillan. "10-12 points doesn’t mean anything in this kind of racing. If we sail well we will have the chance to win so that´s what we need to do.”
Series favourite Pierre Pennec (no doubt cursing his ‘Form Guide’ accolade) and his team on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild looked like they were on form for the opening two races today, but it quickly turned nasty when they got stuck on a mark and had to watch the rest of the fleet sail on. Things didn’t improve much for the team in the next race, when they were OCS leaving them lagging in eighth place. A win in the final race provided some consolation for Pennec, but not much as the team slip a place to fifth overall – one point shy of Oman Air.
At the other end of the fleet, the two new boats on the start line China Team and SAP Extreme Sailing Team have struggled against the more experienced Extreme 40 teams, and are in ninth and eighth respectively. Alinghi is 10 points clear of SAP Extreme Sailing Team, but will have a hard task to catch sixth-placed ZouLou skippered by Loick Peyron, which consistently placed at the top end of the fleet today and now holds a 12 point lead over the Swiss team.
The city of Qingdao has undertaken a huge marketing campaign for the event with billboards lining the streets from the airport to port. Today Qingdao TV broadcasted the race coverage live which in turn was syndicating to 11 other channels, including the hugely popular Beijing TV.
The official Series weather forecasters, WetterWelt, has forecasted light winds and a risk of fog tomorrow, so the teams are likely to have a particularly tactical day on the race course. There are still plenty of points to play for concluding with the all important double-points final race decider.
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Qingdao, standings after day 3 and 22 races
Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan / Ed Smyth / Pete Greenhalgh / Hashim Al Rashdi / Rachel Williamson 139 points
2nd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Matthew Adams / Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche 131 points
3rd GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams / Mark Ivey / Mark Bulkeley / Adam Piggot / Andrew Walsh 129 points
4th Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson / Will Howden / Charlie Ogletree / Nasser Al Mashari / Max Bulger 125 points
5th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec / Jean-Christophe Mourniac / Hervé Cunningham / Bernard Labro / Romain Petit 125 points
6th ZouLou (FRA) Loick Peyron / Philippe Mourniac / Jean-Sébastien Ponce / Bruno Jeanjean / Patrick Aucour 115 points
7th Alinghi (SUI), Pierre-Yves Jorand / Tanguy Cariou / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey / Charles Favre 93 points
8th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen / Rasmus Kostner / Pete Cumming / Christian Kamp / Jonas Hviid 83 points
9th China Team (CHN) Phil Robertson / Garth Ellingham / Kit Cheng / Nick Catley / Xiaqun Song 50 points