35 knot blaster in Florianopolis
Big breeze and blistering speeds called for nerves of steel from the eight Extreme 40 crews on the first public day of racing, Brazil, as they hurtled round the Florianópolis stadium race course in the biggest winds the fleet has raced in all season, which peaked at 35 knot in the gusts.
There was plenty of hull flying action at the final Extreme Sailing Series presented by Land Rover event of the year, as the fleet expertly navigated their twin hulls missiles around the course, as teams concentrated on keeping their boats under their masts and not capsizing.
The Austrian Red Bull Sailing Team were the undisputed stars of the day, the fastest boat on the water according to the SAP analytics, relishing the conditions and storming their way to two race wins. Others found the conditions too extreme, including the local boat Team Brazil Mapfre which was forced to retire from racing after breaking its bowsprit during a difficult bear away while the Swiss Realteam lost a man overboard in the final race of the day.
Three full-on races were sailed, before gusts of 35 knots and a turning tide quashed proceedings, as Race Director Phil Lawrence elaborated: “The conditions today were right at the top limit for racing. It’s a testament to the skill of the sailors that they were able to get around the course in one piece! They had a few frightening moments but they did a fantastic job. I have never run racing in as much wind as that for the Extreme 40s. I stopped racing when the winds got to 35 knots, and then the tides started to change and the seas were going to become unmanageable.”
Still buzzing from the exhilarating racing, Red Bull Sailing Team’s double Olympic Tornado gold medallist Roman Hagara enthused about his team’s performance: “It was a really fun day for us, we pushed it really hard and it seemed to be enough! We had good breeze, good teamwork and it just came together. We’ve still got a long way to go, there’s still two days of racing left but we’re very confident.” Hagara’s team is now just five points behind second placed Alinghi, and has put a little light between it and SAP Extreme Sailing Team, three points ahead of the fourth placed Danes.
The defending champions, The Wave, Muscat maintains pole position heading into tomorrow’s penultimate day, secured by a win in the first race of the day. Skipper Leigh McMillan, one of the most experienced on the circuit who has sailed in the Series since 2009, said: “Today was definitely up there with some of the biggest days on the circuit. It was full on but enjoyable! The conditions were very extreme, it was windy but we were just happy we were doing the right thing during racing. We were getting around the course and still pushing hard.”
In the final race of the day, as the breeze continued to build before reaching the cut off point, the Swiss multihull champions on Realteam lost headsail trimmer Cédric Schmidt overboard. The team made a quick recovery, but was forced to retire from the race as skipper Arnaud Psarofaghis said: “He went over as we deployed the gennaker. We were hit by a wave and it just threw him off the boat. He is fine, his hand is slightly sore, but I’m sure he’ll be ready to race again tomorrow. We tried to sail a safe game today, we had some bad luck at times but we were happy with our speed and with our boat handling. In these conditions you need to sail the boat by keeping everything simple, avoid any crashes and make sure everyone is safe.”
The young Kiwi team on GAC Pindar came out all guns blazing today, hitting the accelerator and giving the more experienced crews a run for their money, scoring a third and second place – a real confidence boost for the youngest skipper in the fleet, Will Tiller: “It was tough out there, we had to make sure that we had good communication onboard to get us round the course but it was a great experience for us to race in those conditions. Our aim is to keep pushing the boat to its limits and we managed to pull off some good results, which we’re really happy with. There’s still a long way to go but our aim is to keep chipping away at the points and trying to edge up the leaderboard as much as we can.” The Kiwi-flagged team is currently seventh with 58 points, two points behind Realteam.
It was a tough day for the local entry on Team Brazil Mapfre who, after missing the first race start while they reefed, snapped their bowsprit during a difficult bear away in race two, putting them out of the running for the day. Skipper Clínio de Freitas, an Olympic bronze medallist, was optimistic about the rest of the event: “We’re trying to fix this problem tonight so that we can come back tomorrow and compete again. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to compete here on our home waters, and we are sure we can be back tomorrow to put on a show for our local fans.”
The action in Florianópolis continues tomorrow with the penultimate day’s racing kicking off at 1800GMT and can be watched on line live.
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Ed Smyth, Pete Greenhalgh, Musab Al Hadi, Hashim Al Rashdi 95 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 86 points.
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Matthew Adams, Simon Cooke, Kinley Fowler 81 points.
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Pete Cumming, Mikkel Røssberg, Nicolai Sehested 78 points.
5th ChinaSpirit (CHN) Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Brad Hooker, Louis Viat, Nick Catley 70 points.
6th Realteam (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Nils Palmieri, Cedric Schmidt, Thierry Wassem 60 points.
7th GAC Pindar (NZL) Will Tiller, Matt Steven, Stewart Dodson, Tom Bentham, Shaun Mason 58 points.
8th Team Brazil Mapfre (BRA) Clínio de Freitas, André Mirsky, Daniel Santiago, André Chang, Bruno di Bernardi 28 points.