Early lead for Realstone
The eight races held produced six different winners. With Arnaud Psarofaghis helming this season, it was the lake specialists on board Realstone that proved to be the form team, executing a consistent strategy in the trying light conditions, to finish the opening day top of the leaderboard – their best result since joining the circuit last year.
Some of the newer teams struggled to get to grips with the stadium race course, posting a mixed bag of results and a crash between defending champions The Wave, Muscat and GAC Pindar will leave the Aussies with a night of repairs ahead.
Realstone, who after yesterday’s practice racing described themselves as ‘the underdogs’, played a low risk game, setting up for manoeuvres and executing them precisely to give themselves some breathing space on the packed race course. Skipper Jérôme Clerc commented: “We rotated the team a lot in 2013 to finally be in a position to chose the best people for the best positions and get here with an optimal configuration. We have sailed well with good starts. Arnaud made the boat go fast and we have followed simple schemes with starts on the same side and regular tacks in each leg. We noticed this worked out well so we have kept this strategy. It’s the first day, all the teams are warming up so we are still the outsiders!”
In the continually shifting breeze, which ranged from 4-10 knots with slightly bigger gusts, the teams tacticians had it all on. Groupama Sailing Team’s skipper Franck Cammas – who won the seventh race of the day, only to follow it up with a last place – explained how tough the conditions were: “We have had more wind than expected, so it was pretty hairy on the water. The wind flows in between the buildings and it all becomes very shifty. We had to take what we could. The teams who started well were not necessarily the teams who finished at the top. The key, in short, is a mix of a little bit of luck, be at the good spot, try to anticipate things and being opportunist.” The French team finish the day tied on points with second placed Alinghi.
On such a compact course, and with such short, intense races, the mark roundings were nailbitingly close, and those on shore found themselves holding their breathe as the Extreme 40s seemingly created space where there was none. In the sixth race of the day, The Wave, Muscat and GAC Pindar found out just how tight the course is, when the Omani boat T-boned into the back of the Aussies in a port-starboard incident, leaving a significant hole in their boat and the team with a night of repairs ahead in the pitlane.
T-boner skipper Leigh McMillan described what happened: “GAC Pindar put in a tack, and at the last minute they looked like they weren’t going to avoid us. I tried to smash it into a tack but there wasn’t anywhere to go – plus I lost grip of the tiller and tripped over, and unfortunately went into them. We’ve had plenty of bad days and we will have to go back, look at the videos and take some lessons out of today and come back stronger tomorrow.”
Many of the fleet struggled for consistency today, and none more so than newcomers Emirates Team New Zealand and J.P. Morgan BAR, who finished the day with two race wins apiece – but also a handful of last places. Olympic champion Ben Ainslie commented: “We are all having to learn pretty quickly and certainly in this tight venue - even for the experienced guys it’s pretty tough, because the wind changes so quickly and then you have to manoeuvre. Everyone had an up and down day, but I’m sure it was exciting to watch for the spectators, it’s a fantastic venue and we really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a very strong fleet, I did a couple of Extreme Sailing Series events three seasons ago and I would say it’s one of the toughest there has been. We’ve just got to keep trying to improve; we’re obviously very new to this so we really learnt a lot today. Tonight we will go away, look at what we can take forward and as there are so many races, just keep doing the best we can.”
JPMorgan BAR mainsail trimmer, Paul Goodison added: “Well it was definitely a really exciting day today, with lots happening on the race course! The morning and first few races started well for us, we had an OK middle of the day where we didn’t quite get everything right - but we did manage to avoid some potential crashes which is the main thing. The day picked up in race five and we really worked well and came together as a team. Looking forward to tomorrows racing, today has set the scene for a tricky, interesting event."
There is little light on the leaderboard after day one, with just 18 points separating first placed Realstone from eighth placed Oman Air. The Wave, Muscat, Gazprom Team Russia, GAC Pindar and the local boat Team Aberdeen Singapore have a bit of catching up to do, but with up to 24 races still to come in Singapore, there is plenty of opportunity to do it.
Marina Bay Reservoir will provide a temporary residence for the 12 Extreme 40s for the next three days of stadium racing, and if today’s action is anything to go by, this first event, with the support of local main partner Aberdeen Asset Management, could be anyone’s game.
The racing will be streamed live online tomorrow from 0800-0930 GMT to fans around the world.
1st Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Thierry Wassem, Nils Palmieri 56 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 48 points.
3rd Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Sophie de Turckheim, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 48 points.
4th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker, Glenn Ashby, James Dagg, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 46 points.
5th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Pippa Wilson, Matt Cornwell 44 points.
6th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Nick Blackman, Haylee Outteridge 43 points.
7th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Peter Wibroe, Nicolai Sehested 39 points.
8th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Tom Johnson, Will Howden, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 38 points.
9th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 29 points.
10th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Paul Campbell-James, Alister Richardson, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 28 points.
11th GAC Pindar (AUS) Seve Jarvin, Troy Tindill, Ed Smyth, Sam Newton, Alexandra South 20 points.
12th Team Aberdeen Singapore (SIN) Nick Moloney, Adam Beashel, Scott Glen Sydney, Tom Dawson, Justin Wong 17 points.