SAP leads after opening day
An 11 strong fleet headed onto the Muscat race course for the opening day of racing at the Extreme Sailing Series, in what it’s shaping up to be an unpredictable and close fought event, with five different winners in seven races.
The fleet raced in open water, giving them the chance to stretch their sails under a brilliant Arabian sun, in a light breeze between 5-7 knots that played across the course, with each windward-leeward two-lap race lasting just over 15 minutes.
The Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team had the edge over the less consistent teams, but with only 16 points separating the top eight, there will be some tough competition tomorrow as the front runners try to establish a firm lead.
“It’s going to be a long regatta and it’s only day one, but we’re happy with our performance today and hopefully it can continue”, commented SAP Extreme Sailing Team’s co-skipper Jes Gram Hansen, who went on to talk about the key to success on this racecourse: “When you get ahead of the fleet it becomes easier, you have clean breeze and you’re actually just gaining and gaining. Tomorrow we just need to stay focused.”
SAP Extreme Sailing Team, Emirates Team New Zealand and The Wave, Muscat all came away with a win apiece, with Alinghi and Groupama Sailing Team taking two, keeping everyone guessing right up to the last race as to which team would finish the day on top.
Series Main Partners Land Rover today announced a new partnership with the Austrian Red Bull Sailing Team, as the Official Team and Vehicle Partner, adding further commitment to the British car company’s relationship with professional sailing.
However on the water, it was a frustrating end to the day for the Austrian boat, fronted by double Olympic champions Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher, who were tied on points at the top of the leaderboard going into the final race. But a tenth place in that race proved costly, and the team ended the day sixth overall, showing just how quickly fortunes can change.
Skipper Hagara commented: “The teams will need to be more consistent tomorrow. You really need a good start out there, as it’s so difficult to get back in it when you start from the back. All the teams are very strong and that’s why we are very tight on points. No mistakes will be the plan for all teams!"
After a conservative start to the event for both four-times Olympic champion Ben Ainslie’s British team JP Morgan BAR, and Gazprom Team Russia, helmed by two-times Extreme Sailing Series winner Paul Campbell-James, the British helms began to master the racecourse, both securing finishes in the top three.
Campbell-James summed up the day: “We had some good races and some bad races, unfortunately more bad races than good ones so it was a little frustrating. There’s a lot of positives we can take from today – our downwind speed was a lot better, our upwind speed felt pretty good and our crew work is improving every day. The most important thing tomorrow is that we will be back to reaching starts, which may provide a bit of variety as to who gets to the line first. We’re close to the shore with a good Omani crowd as enthusiastic as ever, so we’re looking forward to it!”
It was a testing day for Realteam, which was unable to continue riding on their wave of success following their third place in Singapore just three weeks ago. GAC Pindar was also unable to emulate their recent JJ Giltinan Trophy victory during the day’s racing, with the teams finishing tenth and 11th respectively.
1st SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Peter Wibroe, Nicolai Sehested 48 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 45 points.
3rd Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Sophie de Turckheim, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 45 points.
4th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 44 points.
5th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker, Glenn Ashby, James Dagg, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 43 points.
6th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Nick Blackman, Stewart Dodson 41 points.
7th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Tom Johnson, Will Howden, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 33 points.
8th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Pippa Wilson, Matt Cornwell 32 points.
9th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Paul Campbell-James, Alister Richardson, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 25 points.
10th Realteam (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wassem, Nils Palmieri 22 points.
11th GAC Pindar (AUS) Seve Jarvin, Troy Tindill, Ed Smyth, Sam Newton, David Gilmour 16 points.