It is mission accomplished for Ernesto Bertarelli’s Swiss team Alinghi, as Morgan Larson and the team grabbed victory with both hands at Act 8 Sydney, presented by Land Rover, and with it the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series™ title – and Larson’s words say it all: “We’ve had an amazing season with an amazing team. To win the season and the Act on the last day in the conditions we had here in Sydney, which is the best sailing venue in the world, is a special moment that’s going to take a long time to sink in. The level of confidence that we have on our boat just made me realise I can win anything with these guys. This is the best feeling I’ve had all year and probably in the whole of my sailing career, so I’m going to cherish it.”
With the breeze cranking around Sydney Harbour at 15 knots and the brilliant Aussie sun beating down, racing was as good as it gets and the thousands of spectators witnessed not only the best racing of the year, but also a capsize for their home team GAC Pindar in the sixth race of the day, when damage to their rudders following a collision caused them to lose control of their Extreme 40.
Coming into the Act, Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey and Anna Tunnicliffe, were the hot favourites to win the Series – with four Act wins already under their belts and having never finished worse than third – they just had to play it safe and finish sixth or above. Comfortable going into the final double points race of the Series victory, winning the Act was the challenge, and Leigh McMillan and his team on The Wave, Muscat came into battle determined, flexing their muscles and giving it their all. Solid boat handling throughout the day meant the Act was almost theirs, denied only by the final double pointer, and the two-times Series winning skipper picking up second in Sydney, and in 2014. “It didn’t go how we wanted, but it’s been a great season and a fantastic effort by the whole team – the shore team, our coach and the crew. It hasn’t been easy, we had to dig deep on many occasions this year and Alinghi were just to good for us. They are relentless and were more consistent. Focused on this event, it’s been fantastic. It’s great to be part of it and beating a lot of the best guys in the sport. We’ll be back next year, and absolutely fighting for the win. He got the jump this year, we will try and take it back next year.”
In their second year on the circuit, Realteam have proved themselves a force to be reckoned with, and today’s battle for third in Sydney was between them, J.P. Morgan BAR and Oman Air. Tagged the ‘light air specialists’, Jérôme Clerc and his team proved they are much more than that, and four race wins in Sydney and a consistent set of results secured them not only third place Down Under – but third place in 2014. “It has been an incredible season for us. What we have achieved this year is huge. We were the rookies of the circuit and this result just shows what an amazing year we have had. It has been great to sail on this racecourse in Sydney, the conditions were perfect and this podium just makes all our hard work worth while.”
Sailing with the confidence of a man who has been racing in the circuit for years, Tom Slingsby was unstoppable today. An extraordinary performance by him and the team on Oman Air saw them clock up 70 points from a possible 90 today, and they were the fastest average team on the water according to the SAP Sailing analytics, helping them on their way to fourth place in Sydney – no doubt turning a few heads amongst the more experienced fleet as well as receiving the biggest cheers from their home crowd. Slingsby’s efforts also earned him the Land Rover Above and Beyond Award – read more “here.”:
For Slingsby’s fellow country man and Olympic champion Nathan Wilmot, their regatta was cut short following a collision with Realteam as the Aussies tried to cross in front of the Swiss, misjudged it and got their port rudder knocked off, leaving them without steering and no control of the boat, resulting in the capsize. Wilmot, who won Olympic gold in 2008 in the 470 class was disappointed to have his event cut short. “We were hit hard, with the impact just ripping off the rudder and then the capsize was imminent but everyone is fine. It’s a disappointing end to the week for us but it’s been incredible sailing on Sydney Harbour and we’ve enjoyed all the support from our home fans”.
Sydney joins a list of spectacular and iconic locations as an Extreme Sailing Series Host Venue, that this year has included a whirlwind tour of the globe taking in Singapore, Muscat (Oman), Qingdao (China), Saint Petersburg (Russia), Cardiff (UK), Istanbul (Turkey) and Nice on the French Riviera. 11 top international teams have battled in one of the most hard-fought Series to date, with five of them claiming podium positions throughout the year.
The eighth season of the Extreme Sailing Series comes to a close after 231 races, with the 2015 global tour confirmed to kick start in just over seven weeks, in Singapore – the first of eight Host Venues for this pioneering Stadium Racing circuit, that gets better ever year.
What they Said:
Tom Slingsby, Oman Air:
“We did as well as we could have done today, and the points worked out well. The atmosphere out there was great, with all the spectator boats, the people on the shore cheering as you went passed was pretty amazing. After coming last in day one to come back and win the next two days to get fourth overall is fantastic – I wish I had adapted to these boats one day earlier! It was tricky the first day, I felt I was out of my league.”
Paul Campbell-James, J.P. Morgan BAR:
“Sydney is without a doubt the best venue the Extreme Sailing Series has ever been to. You can’t beat the backdrop, you can’t beat the breeze, the locals… the whole package is perfect Extreme Sailing Series conditions.”
Phil Robertson, Gazprom Team Russia:
“The last few events have been good for us and we’ve definitely improved as a team. We keep getting stronger and stronger and we had a pretty good event here in Sydney. We had a really strong day today, so that’s a great way to end the season, and hopefully we can carry it on into next year. It was awesome conditions here, lots of wind and today was just perfect especially with that sea breeze direction, we couldn’t have asked for more.”
Roman Hagara, Red Bull Sailing Team:
“Our highlight of the year was Nice and we had a really good battle with the top guys and we were close behind J.P. Morgan BAR. The final Act in Sydney was definitely another highlight, coming back to the place where we won our Olympic gold medal. We had quite a good start to the season and then in Qingdao we had a big crash with Alinghi and we dropped from fourth place to ninth I think, and after that it didn’t work out so well for us. I think it was still in our heads and we weren’t aggressive enough. Towards the end of the season everything worked out a little bit better, but still we weren’t where we should have been.”
Jes Gram-Hansen, SAP Extreme Sailing Team:
“It has been a though year for us, that’s no secret. We had some good regattas but also some though ones, that’s the way it is. We have a strong team, there are a lot of good sailors in the team and I am sure we can come back stronger, that’s definitely our goal.”
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 8 Sydney presented by Land Rover standings after Day 4, 26 races (14.12.14)
Position / Team / Points
- Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 189 points.
- The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 177 points.
- Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wasem 168 points.
- Oman Air (OMA) Tom Slingsby, Ted Hackney, Kyle Langford, Joey Newton, Ali Al Balashi 157 points.
- J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Campbell-James, Bleddyn Mon, Matt Cornwell 156 points.
- Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Shaun Mason, Stewart Dodson 151 points.
- SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Christian Kamp, Brad Farrand 145 points.
- Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 143 points.
- Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Tanguy Cariou, Romain Motteau, Thierry Fouchier, Hervé Cunningham 124 points.
- GAC Pindar (AUS) Nathan Wilmot, Seve Jarvin, Matt Mitchell, Tyson Lamond, James Wierzbowski 90 points.
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2014 overall standings
Position / Team / Points
- Alinghi (SUI) 85 points.
- The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 75 points.
- Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 61 points.
- Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 49 points.
- J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 49 points.
- Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 40 points.
- Oman Air (OMA) 38 points.
- SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 36 points.
- Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 30 points.
- Groupama sailing team (FRA) 26 points.
- GAC Pindar (AUS) 13 points.
Photo Credit : Lloyd Images
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