Swiss skipper Jérôme Clerc managed to fight off the challenges of the encroaching pack to keep Realteam at the top of the leaderboard on the second day of the Extreme Sailing Series in Nice as the pressure builds with just two days of racing left.
The interest from the fans on the beach was huge – and so is the expectation on the teams, with all of the dockside talk already focused on the implications of this Act to the 2014 Series standings. Only 26 points separate first from eleventh place at the close of play – little more than the final double points race – in what is shaping up to be one of the closest, and most crucial, Acts of the season.
Behind Realteam a whole host of teams are beginning to really challenge. Riding on their wave of success from the 49er world championships, and their nomination for ISAF World Sailors of the year, Pete Burling and regular sailing partner Blair Tuke and the experienced hands on Emirates Team New Zealand, clearly had the winning strategy worked out. The Kiwis started the day in sixth, and a string of consistent results has elevated them to second.
Talking about their crew rotation this season, Burling commented: “Every event you go into, you go in with the aim of winning it. The good thing is that I’ve only sailed about eight days with Jero (Lomas) and four with Glenn (Ashby) and obviously loads with Blair, but the combination is just getting stronger and stronger.” Going on to talk about the day’s racing: “I didn’t think we actually had such a great day so thought we would be a bit further back on the scoreboard than second, but we’re just a couple of points off the lead which is what we’re looking at so we’re really happy to be in touch and to still be improving how we’re sailing.”
Gazprom Team Russia continued to impress, staying in touch with the leading pack in third place, with the current Series leaders now just one point behind them. After struggling to get out of the blocks yesterday, the Swiss team was on the march today, clocking up more points than any other, taking 42 from a possible 70.
Talking about the mood and communication on board that helped the team to make it their day, helm Morgan Larson commented: “Anna (Tunnicliffe) said to us during racing today: you know what? We don’t need to win races, we just need to win points and if we get thirds all day long I’ll be super happy. So those are words from a champion that has the confidence, and she’s definitely that. It was good for all of us to hear it, because we were looking for some magic to win the races.”
The battle behind is raging with J.P. Morgan BAR and GAC Pindar tied on 75 points, and the defending Series champions The Wave, Muscat a point behind – an uncomfortable position for Leigh McMillan who is gunning for his third consecutive Series win this year. But as McMillan pointed out, there is a long way to go and plenty more points for the taking.
“We have got plenty of game left in us for the next few days – we did a lot right today, although it may not look like it on the leaderboard. We did a lot of things well, but unfortunately the mistakes we made were big ones and cost us a lot of points. We’re working well as a team, the consistency onboard is really good – we’ll keep pushing.”
Seven windward-leeward races were sailed in a typical Mediterranean light sea breeze and beautiful sunshine delivering a stunning afternoon of racing. The home boat Groupama sailing team struggled to replicate yesterday’s wining form, only adding one race win to their tally along with a string of results in the bottom three, which leaves the home boat in ninth place. Skipper Franck Cammas, however, was confident they could turn it around: “We won a race today and that is a positive thing and it shows what we are capable of. Now we just need to be more consistent. It’s all about the details and lost metres here and there, and that’s what makes all the difference.”
SAP Extreme Sailing Team found the form that was missing yesterday, to secure two race wins. The team clocked up a credible 40 points, but struggled – like many – for consistency in the tricky conditions, and finish the day tied on points at the tail end of the leaderboard with Red Bull Sailing Team.
Tomorrow is the penultimate day in Nice, and the pressure on the teams is palpable, with everyone improving race by race, and the pressure mounting. The close fought racing is sure to keep the fans on the edge of their seats, right up until Sunday’s double pointer – watch it live from 1530 local time, (GMT +2) with Land Rover Global Brand Ambassador Hannah White and David Carr on this website:
Extreme Sailing Series Act 7 Nice standings after Day 2, 15 races (3.10.14)
Position / Team / Points
1st Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wasem 92 points.
2nd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Peter Burling, Glenn Ashby, Blair Tuke, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 84 points.
3rd Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 82 points.
4th Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 81 points.
5th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Campbell-James, Bleddyn Mon, Matt Cornwell 75 points.
6th GAC Pindar (AUS) Nathan Wilmot, Seve Jarvin, Hugh Styles, Tyson Lamond, James Wierzbowski 75 points.
7th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 74 points.
8th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Ted Hackney, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 73 points.
9th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Tanguy Cariou, Valentin Bellet, Arnaud Jarlegan, Devan Le Bihan 71 points.
10th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Christian Kamp, Brad Farrand 66 points.
11th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Thomas Czajka, Stewart Dodson 66 points.