Extreme Sailing Series : Advantage Alinghi – but Sydney & Series podium places still open

It was an action-packed, full pressure day on Sydney Harbour for the Extreme 40s at the penultimate day’s racing of the 2014 global tour, where the grudge match between Alinghi and The Wave, Muscat was rife. Two race wins for the Swiss to the Omanis one, means it’s advantage Alinghi as they head into tomorrow’s final day – with their fellow countrymen Realteam in second place and The Wave, Muscat just two points back in third. Cool as ever, Larson commented: “We came out fighting and feel like we got hold of the event again. There’s still one more day to go and I think history has proven that things can get shaken up pretty quick so we’ve got to keep the focus on the win. It’s the end of the season, it’s been a long year, but now’s the time to sail at the highest level we can.”

The double-defending champions on The Wave, Muscat have to win in Sydney and Alinghi has to be sixth or worse for the British Olympian McMillan and his team to make it a hatrick of Series wins – a tough but not impossible ask. The team’s tactician Sarah Ayton, who sailed at the Sydney Olympic Games as a training partner before going onto compete and win gold at the 2004 and 2008 Games, commented: “If there was an opportunity to make it difficult for Alinghi today then you would take it, but there’s a lot of racing and you still very much have to do your own thing, and that’s what we were doing. We have a lot to do, and we’ll have to put the pressure on to Alinghi tomorrow and let them make the mistakes.”

Every podium place is still open at Act 8 Sydney presented by Land Rover – but with 20 points up for the taking for the Act win, the implications on the Series leaderboard are huge. Ben Ainslie and J.P. Morgan BAR will be hoping they can mount a late charge and clinch a podium place – in their way are Realteam, in pursuit of their first ever Act win to secure their position. For skipper Jérôme Clerc, the team’s performance so far this year has exceeded his expectations: “It would be great for the team to finish on the podium. This was not our main target at the beginning of the year; we just wanted to get a podium at one of the venues. But if we are on the podium on Sunday, it would be a great victory. We have come a long way but I think now we are now sailing at our best.”

Softening but no less testing conditions caused a shuffle on the leaderboard, with five different teams claiming maximum points (10) in the eight races sailed. J.P. Morgan BAR started the day on the back foot, when Realteam slammed into their back beam during the tight windward mark rounding, knocking out their rudders and the team out of the following three races. A points redress for the team limited the damage ahead of tomorrow’s final day and the Brits are five points ahead of a seemingly revitalized SAP Extreme Sailing Team. The Danes found some of their best form of the season with an impressive four second place finishes elevating the team to fourth from seventh place at the beginning of the day. Co-skipper Jes Gram-Hansen is looking to finish the season on a high. “Our speed is good, the crew handling is good, it’s a tricky place to sail but overall the day was pretty good for us. We hope we can finish the season with a good regatta here in Sydney. It’s been a difficult year for us, that’s no secret. So it will mean a lot for our progression for next year if we sail well here.”

It was also an impressive day by GAC Pindar, whose skipper Nathan Wilmot also celebrated his 35th birthday today. Two race wins from the boys from Down Under was impressive, but not as impressive as his former Australian Olympic team mate Tom Slingsby on Oman Air, who was rarely out of the top three. The Omani team finish the day in seventh place, four points ahead of Phil Robertson and Gazprom Team Russia, who lead GAC Pindar by another four points, with Groupama sailing team languishing in tenth.

As the fleet head into the end game, tonight’s team debriefs will be some of the most important of the season, with points, the Act and the championship at stake. With the Act and the final race worth double points, it is going down to the wire. Will Realteam win their first ever Act and secure their place on the 2014 podium? Can the four-times Olympic champion Ben Ainslie and the Brits pull off their best day of the season? Can Alinghi take victory in the 2014 Series, or will Leigh McMillan and The Wave, Muscat ruin their plans? Watch the final races of the Series live at 1530 local time (GMT+11), to find out!

Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 8 Sydney presented by Land Rover standings after Day 3, 18 races (13.12.14)
Position / Team / Points

  1. Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 127 points.
  2. Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wasem 125 points.
  3. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 120 points.
  4. J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Campbell-James, Bleddyn Mon, Matt Cornwell 108 points.
  5. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Christian Kamp, Brad Farrand 103 points.
  6. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Shaun Mason, Stewart Dodson 100 points.
  7. Oman Air (OMA) Tom Slingsby, Ted Hackney, Kyle Langford, Joey Newton, Ali Al Balashi 87 points.
  8. Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 83 points.
  9. GAC Pindar (AUS) Nathan Wilmot, Seve Jarvin, Matt Mitchell, Tyson Lamond, James Wierzbowski 79 points.
  10. Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Tanguy Cariou, Romain Motteau, Thierry Fouchier, Hervé Cunningham 73 points.

Photo Credit : Lloyd Images

Tags on NauticNews: Extreme Sailing Series, Extreme 40

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