The public descended on the banks of the river Douro today to watch the Extreme 40s in action. Five races were completed with four different race winners in the most challenging conditions the fleet have faced this week. Patchy wind and strong currents made it hard for the teams to post consistent results, with the leaderboard becoming closer with every race and setting the scene for tomorrow’s final showdown which is set to go down to the wire.
Alinghi – one of three Swiss teams competing in Porto – managed to make some small inroads into The Wave, Muscat’s lead, gaining back two points, but skipper Leigh McMillan is a man on a mission, and did well to hold off the charge from the Swiss to maintain the upper hand ahead of tomorrow. Not taking his advantage for granted, McMillan commented after racing: “You would think it would get easier the longer you compete on this circuit but it never does! I’m certain that tomorrow is going to be extremely tough and Alinghi are going to be there right up until the end. In an ideal situation we will have a good day and we can build up a bit of a points margin, but it’s very, very difficult to do that in this Series and we’ve never really been able to achieve that before so I don’t know how tomorrow is going to be any different!”.
Realteam worked hard today to close out the podium from the oncoming attacks of SAP Extreme Sailing Team and Red Bull Sailing Team, and two race wins and two second places was enough to put 15 points between them and maintain third place. Pierre Pennec has taken the tiller of Realteam from regular helm Jérome Clerc in Porto, explaining: “I am here really to help the team progress, with communication, technique and how to push the boat for good results. We are here to make progress as this is the first year for the team. They are young guys, physically good and motivated and we have made good progress.”
The teams had to contend with strong currents flowing down the river and shifty wind that swept from the high walls of the Porto side to Gaia which kept the teams on their toes and their tacticians busy as they zig-zagged their way across the river. Roman Hagara and his crew on Red Bull Sailing Team did well to manage the conditions with their best day yet in Porto including a win in the first race of the day.
“Today was quite tricky because the wind was coming from the side which was quite difficult, especially in the starting area. Then on the racecourse it was really shifty and gusty, with big changes of pressure on the course. It was not easy and everyone had their ups and downs”, explained Hagara. “Overall it was okay for us. I think we need to keep our heads out and make good starts and then keep everything together – good manoeuvres, good mark roundings. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.” SAP Extreme Sailing Team are tied on points with the Austrians in fourth place.
The local contingent on ROFF Cascais Sailing Team upped the ante posting far more consistent results including a string of finishes in the top half of the fleet – no mean feat for skipper António Mello who first stepped onboard a multihull earlier this year. The team have brought in the expertise of former Groupe Edmond de Rothschild tactician Hervé Cunningham, a well know face on the Extreme Sailing Series, and Álvaro Marinho, one of Portugal’s top 470 sailors, as their coaches to fast-track their multihull learning curve, as Mello explained: “Our coaches make a very good combination as Hervé is very experienced on the Extreme 40 and Álvaro is a great tactician as an Olympic sailor. It’s great to see the team working well and I feel that each day we have more confidence on the boat. It’s amazing competing in front of our home crowd, they gave us a lot of strength and it’s always great to get a good result in front of them. They cheer really loud for us and it gives us more motivation to do well.”
ROFF Cascais Sailing Team is one of three Red Bull Youth America’s Cup teams competing in Porto alongside the Kiwi representatives on GAC Pindar and the Swiss on Team Tilt. The three teams are locked in their own intense battle with just 14 points separating sixth placed GAC Pindar and eighth place ROFF Cascais Sailing Team in what will be the final training ground for the teams ahead of their meeting in San Francisco in September.
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Ed Smyth, Pete Greenhalgh, Musab Al Hadi, Hashim Al Rashdi 179 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Ben Lezin, Pierre Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 169 points.
3rd Realteam (SUI) Pierre Pennec, Bryan Mettraux, Nils Palmieri, Cédric Schmidt, Thierry Wassem 165 points.
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Pete Cumming, Mikkel Røssberg, Nicolai Sehested 150 points.
5th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Matthew Adams, Simon Cooke, Graeme Spence 150 points.
6th GAC Pindar (NZL) Will Tiller, Brad Farrand, Stewart Dodson, Harry Thurston, Shaun Mason 116 points.
7th Team Tilt (SUI) Lucien Cujean, Jocelyn Keller, Jeremy Bachelin, Thomas Mermod, Lionel Vaucher 108 points.
8th ROFF Cascais Sailing Team (POR) António Mello, Bernardo Freitas, João Mello, Ricardo Schedel, João Matos Rosa 104 points.