Breeze up in Cardiff
In stark contrast to day one of the Extreme Sailing Series Cardiff, today, the sun was out, the rain had stopped and the breeze was up. As a result an epic 10 races were held, the eight Extreme 40s hurtling round Cardiff Bay in 18 knots of wind, often gusty causing woops and hollering from the crowds as the careered around the race course hull flying.
The bigger breeze, something that has been lacking for most of the circuit so far this year, suited SAP Extreme Sailing Team, the Danish crew led by Jes Gram Hansen and Rasmus Køstner scoring two first and four second place finishes causing them rise from sixth to second at the end of day two, narrowly missing out on pole position to the experienced Alinghi who clinched the top spot with a win in the final race of the day.
Still reeling from the exhilarating racing and their rise through the ranks, SAP Extreme Sailing Team’s co-skipper and tactician Rasmus was over the moon with his team’s performance: “Yesterday didn’t quite go our way, but we just continued to push forward as a team and today it came together and we definitely feel more comfortable in the breeze! We’re really really happy with the day, it’s the best day we’ve ever had on the Extreme Sailing Series circuit!”
Day one leader, Realteam, is now left clinging on to the top half of the rankings in fifth place, after four race wins saw the long standing Swiss team Alinghi assert their authority at the top of the leaderboard, and overhaul their fellow countrymen.
“It was a hard day for us today and I think the biggest breeze we have had all season,” explained Realteam skipper Jérôme Clerc. “We struggled on the starts, and if you get a bad start, it’s difficult to come back. We just have to work on our starts!”
It was not only the light wind lake sailors from Geneva who found themselves on a steep learning curve out on the gusting race track today, with GAC Pindar’s Brad Farrand wearing the skipper's armband for the first time in Cardiff: “It took me a while to adapt to the conditions today, it was really full on," he said. "Once we found where the limits were, we adapted and flew along the course nicely. It was our starts that let us down and a couple of penalties, but that’s how it is.” Farrand's Kiwi crew currently sits seventh overall going into tomorrow’s penultimate day of racing.
Not used to standing on the left hand side of the podium, it too was a tough day at the office for Extreme Sailing Series giants The Wave, Muscat by their high standards. Despite a solid three races wins, their experienced skipper Leigh McMillan was quite obviously disappointed after racing: “It’s been a frustrating day for us, there’s been a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes and that’s cost us, but it also reflects how strong the fleet is for sure. We had a lot of opportunity to not hemorrhage some points, but we gave a lot of points away in certain situations, which is unusual for us. It’s a bit frustrating but everyone’s pushing hard, Red Bull and SAP have really stepped it up today and have done a great job, and that’s put the pressure on us a little bit!”
Further embracing the Cardiff culture, the Extreme Sailing Series presented by Land Rover and hosted by Cardiff Harbour Festival was joined by international Rugby legends British and Irish Lions captain and Sam Warburton and Alex Cuthbert for a day of hull flying racing action aboard local boat Team Wales Land Rover. More familiar with brawn on brawn than boat on boat, the Welsh sporting stars enjoyed a day of high-octane close contact Stadium Racing as part of the Extreme 40 fleet, as Warburton explained back on the dock: “It’s been great to have the Welsh Land Rover team here today and to meet other sportsmen at the top of their field. I was impressed at the technical and tactical nature of sailing, every crewman on the boat has his job to do. We’ve just got to get one rugby ball across the tri line!”
Results after 13 races
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 105 points.
2nd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Pete Cumming, Mikkel Røssberg, Nicolai Sehested 102 points.
3rd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Ed Smyth, Pete Greenhalgh, Musab Al Hadi, Hashim Al Rashdi 100 points.
4th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Matthew Adams, Simon Cooke, Graeme Spence 100 points.
5th Realteam (SUI) Jerome Clerc, Bruno Barbarin, Tanguy Cariou, Cédric Schmidt, Thierry Wassem 86 points.
6th ChinaSpirit (CHN) Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, William Wu, James Williamson, Nick Catley 72 points.
7th GAC Pindar (NZL) Brad Farrand, Ian Williams, Thomas Hedegaard, Soren Secher, Tom Blampied 57 points.
8th Team Wales Land Rover (GBR) Dave Evans, Chris Grube, Bleddyn Mon, Tudur Owen, Trystan Seal 47 points.