The opening day of Act 8 Florianópolis presented by Land Rover delivered the “best racing of the year” according to Alinghi helmsman Morgan Larson & SAP Extreme Sailing Team skipper Jes Gram-Hansen. The final showdown of the 2013 Series began in style, and the South Brazilian city welcomed the eight elite level Extreme 40 teams with champagne sailing conditions – 14 knots of wind that steadily built to 20 and a brilliant Brazilian sunshine. Eight short, sharp, fast paced races were sailed, with four different race winners and Oman’s The Wave, Muscat blasted round the tight courses, reaching speeds of 24 knots and relishing the conditions that put Leigh McMillan’s men at the top of the rankings at the end of day one. Tomorrow is a national holiday in Brazil when the event officially opens to the public, and with the breeze set to build to 30 knots overnight, they will be in for a show they wont easily forget! Fans online can watch it live from 1600BRST/1800 GMT on the official event website.
The grudge match between long-standing Series rivals The Wave, Muscat and Alinghi is already evident, and the teams are unsurprisingly looking ahead to Sunday night when the 2013 Series champion will be crowned. The two teams locked horns around the racecourse, neither willing to give an inch. Morgan Larson and the team of finely tuned Swiss sailors matched McMillan’s two race wins, and according to the SAP sailing analytics were the fastest boat on the course, but slick manoeuvres by the Omani team gave them the edge, who finish the day just five points ahead. “We were focusing on The Wave, Muscat when we could and when the opportunity was there we tried to get in their way a little bit. They made it hard, and once again they’re sailing well. I think we pushed them a bit, but they’re solid!” commented Larson after racing. “Five points isn’t a lot but we need it to be five points the other way. It just means that tomorrow we may need to take a different approach and close that gap!”.
It wasn’t all plain sailing today particularly for Red Bull Sailing Team who didn’t get their campaign for the podium off to the start they may have hoped. A broken halyard forced them to miss the second race of the day costing them valuable points. A quick repair however, and the team came back fighting, winning race three. The Austrian double Olympic gold medallists are tied in points with their biggest Series podium rivals, SAP Extreme Sailing Team, but three race wins for the Danish co-skippers Rasmus Kostner and Jes Gram-Hansen versus one for the Austrian team, gives the Danes the advantage on the leaderboard. Back on the dock, SAP’s Gram-Hansen enthused about the day’s racing. “It was an absolutely fantastic day of sailing, definitely one of the best we’ve had so far this year. We had really good conditions today, good breeze with constant shifts which led to opportunities for everybody – I think was probably the best day of racing so far this year!”
In what is only their third Act on the Extreme Sailing Series, ChinaSpirit had their best day to date, consistently securing results in the top half of the fleet and showing a marked improvement from the previous Act in Nice, on the French Riviera. Kiwi skipper Phil Robertson, one of the youngest in the fleet, was thrilled with the team’s performance. “We were super consistent today and were mostly sitting around fourth position which is ideal – we really wanted to be clocking up some good results on day one. We were fast and we just tried to keep it as consistent as we could, so we just kept doing what we were doing tomorrow! We can’t wait for the big wind – we will take it head on!”.
The local contingent on Team Brazil Mapfre lined up against the more experienced fleet that have been locked in irons against each other over the last nine months of global touring for the first time today, and are already drawing the support of the locals who enjoyed their first glimpse of Extreme 40 racing from the shoreline. Tomorrow, the Brazilian locals will be celebrating the Day of the Republic with an official national holiday, and with blistering winds on the forecast, they can expect an action packed day with plenty of intense, close Stadium Racing. For Leigh McMillan, tomorrow is about playing it safe, and clocking up those valuable points on the Act 8 Florianópolis presented by Land Rover leaderboard. “Our priority tomorrow is to keep the boat in one piece and to try and get all of the races completed. It will be really challenging and we will try not to take too many risks and come out tomorrow without any disasters. It will be safety first!”
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2013 Act 8
Position / Team / Points
- The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Ed Smyth, Pete Greenhalgh, Musab Al Hadi, Hashim Al Rashdi 69 points.
- Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 64 points.
- Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Matthew Adams, Simon Cooke, Kinley Fowler 56 points.
- SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Pete Cumming, Mikkel Røssberg, Nicolai Sehested 56 points.
- ChinaSpirit (CHN) Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Brad Hooker, Louis Viat, Nick Catley 54 points.
- Realteam (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Nils Palmieri, Cedric Schmidt, Thierry Wassem 49 points.
- GAC Pindar (NZL) Will Tiller, Matt Steven, Stewart Dodson, Tom Bentham, Shaun Mason 37 points.
- Team Brazil Mapfre (BRA) Clínio de Freitas, André Mirsky, Daniel Santiago, André Chang, Bruno di Bernardi 28 points.
What they said…
Leigh McMillan, The Wave, Muscat skipper:
“We very much had our own game plan today and there was a few times we could take the opportunity to engage with Alinghi, we took those opportunities and they did the same with us. I think they were in the same frame of mind as us, they raced their own race like we did and when the opportunity was there it got quite exciting with a few touch and go moments!”
Will Tiller, GAC Pindar skipper:
“We managed to get off the line at a reasonable pace in most races, but sometimes we were a little unlucky at the top mark. I think in three races we were first at the top mark but we were kind of taking out by the rest of the fleet so I think we just need to really fight when we’re in a situation like that. It you can get a quick tack and come out fast, it can really make a difference. It was good to finish the last race with a third position, we just didn’t have the boat speed of the top two in that race but we just need to think of the other boats more and plan ahead when we approach the marks. It was awesome racing today, I don’t think you can ask for much better! We had flat waters, awesome hull flying breeze! It wasn’t too stressful, it was quite tactical out there today.”
Roman Hagara, Red Bull Sailing Team skipper:
“It was about the good starts in these conditions, and the right hand side of the course seemed to be playing well. With good starts and a lot of manoeuvres it actually worked out quite well for us, apart from the one race where we broke the main halyard, but that’s just something that can happen. We’re very confident (going into tomorrow’s racing). We had some good racing in the big wind conditions in Nice, and we had some good practice today so it will be good for us.”
Photo Credit : Vincent Curutchet/Dark Frame/Lloyd Images
– PR –