Victory for Groupe Edmond de Rothschild
The home team, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild managed to consolidate their lead of the Extreme Sailing Series Nice today, winning four of today's nine races, no doubt spurred on by the cheers of support from an estimated 27,000 strong local crowd on the Boulevard d'Anglais. Victory in Nice has elevated the French team to third place on the overall Extreme Sailing Series leaderboard going into the final event in Rio de Janeiro in December.
Going into the final double points race Groupe Edmond de Rothschild had to keep three boats between them and Leigh McMillan's team on The Wave, Muscat to claim victory. Tthe race was won at the start when McMillan found himself stuck in the second row. Coming off the line last, The Wave, Muscat pulled back to fourth place, but this was not enough.
“I am very happy with the victory, my team has got back for their hard work," commented Groupe Edmond de Rothschild skipper Pierre Pennec. "The conditions were physical and tactically we were fast. Returning to third place overall is great. We will try again to sail well in Rio and then we’ll see the overall standings at the end of the year. Anything can happen until the last moment.”
For Leigh McMillan, the slight disappointment to finish second and not claim his fourth win of the season was surpassed his guaranteeing his team a podium position in the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series, whatever the outcome in Rio.
“We are a bit disappointed not to win," he said. "We did our best, second is still good, and the focus is always on winning the overall series. It’s fantastic to be on the podium with one event to go and with plenty of points up for grabs; it was pretty unexpected. We are very much focused on winning. That is our goal and has been all year – we’ve been pushing hard all year and that’s what we’re going to try to pull out of the bag. Hopefully we can go in and finish the job in Rio.”
Oman Air came close to their objective of overhauling their Oman Sail team mates here in Nice. Earlier today they were ahead of them and the opportunity was still there when The Wave, Muscat made a poor start in the double point scoring final race. However McMillan's team fought back to finish fourth.
Larson had a tactical eye on McMillan all week. “We managed to put them (Groupe Edmond de Rothschild) under a bit of pressure, but trying to put pressure on them without letting The Wave, Muscat slip through was the challenge because we need to hold our points on The Wave. It’s definitely not game over, but with the way they’ve been sailing it’s going to be tough. For us it’s going to be a bit more focus on holding second place. We feel like we are on track for achieving the goal of a podium finish and if we have a solid event in Rio then we will have that spot. If The Wave, Muscat makes a big error, then we will be there to take it.”
It wasn’t all celebrations dock-side this evening in the French Riviera and there was bitter disappointment for Roman Hagara on Red Bull Sailing Team. The team never seemed to recover their stride from their crash on day two and finished in sixth place – but more significantly for the Austrian double Olympic gold medallist they may have put their chances of a podium position in the overall Series in jeopardy falling to fourth overall. “It makes it hard for us to be on the podium now but I think there is still a good chance we can bring it back. We have to be tight in Rio and we have to go out to win that Act to guarantee our place.”
While the frontrunners hold their own private battle for the 2012 podium, the British GAC Pindar and Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team have their own fight developing mid-fleet with only 5.5 points separating the two teams, and the Swiss Alinghi just 5 points shy of that. With the stage now set for the final in Rio de Janeiro between the 6-9th December it is McMillan’s team who lead the overall 2012 rankings by 7.5 points and with four teams capable of a podium place, Rio de Janeiro will be a great battle!
The Extreme Sailing Series concludes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil over 6-9 December. The Extreme Sailing Series visited this venue in its first season when both Leigh McMillan and Peter Greenhalgh were competing. “It is hard to know how it will be,” says McMillan. “We were racing inside the harbour, we had some wind and it was nice racing, but it was different then, we were still doing half mile beats upwind, not 200m sprints!”
Extreme Sailing Series Nice final results after 28 races
Position / Team / Points
1. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Christophe André, Romain Petit, Romain Motteau 173 points
2. The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Leigh McMillan, Ed Smyth, Pete Greenhalgh, Hannah Mills, Hashim Al Rashdi 161.3 points
3. Oman Air (OMA), Morgan Larson, Will Howden, Charlie Ogletree, Andy Maloney, Nasser Al Mashari 159 points
4. GAC Pindar (GBR), Ian Williams, Anna Tunnicliffe, Mark Bulkeley, Andrew Walsh, Richard Peacock 134 points
5. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN), Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Pete Cumming, Mikkel Røssberg, Jonas Hviid 121 points
6. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT), Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Matthew Adams, Pierre Le Clainche, Graeme Spencer 120.7 points
7. Alinghi (SUI), Ernesto Bertarelli, Jean-Christophe Mourniac, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 102 points
8. Team Extreme Ville de Nice (FRA), Erik Maris, Philip Mourniac, Jean-Sébastien Ponce, Patrick Aucour, Bruno Jeanjean 69 points
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Overall Series Results
Position / Team / Points
1. The Wave, Muscat 61.5 points
2. Oman Air 54 points
3. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild 51 points
4. Red Bull Sailing Team 48.5 points
5. GAC Pindar 38.5 points
6. SAP Extreme Sailing Team 33 points
7. Alinghi 28 points
8. ZouLou 23.5 points