It was a case of survival of the fittest for the final day of racing at the Extreme Sailing Series Act 4, Cardiff presented by Land Rover, that demanded all of the teams strength and skill to avoid collisions and capsizes. 60,000 spectators lined the shore over three days, to watch first hand as the teams were battered with a solid 22-knot breeze and gusts of up to 30-knots for the fourth exhausting day of racing, as Leigh McMillan, with double Olympic gold medallist tactician Sarah Ayton and the team on The Wave, Muscat, stormed to an impressive win, putting the Omani team back in the lead at the half way stage of the eight-Act 2015 Series. Watch the highlights from a spectacular week in Cardiff here.
Topping the leaderboard after 32 gruelling races The Wave, Muscat, took control in the wild conditions, posting five podium finishes on the final day and more podiums over the event than any other team. With an eye always on the 2015 Series leaderboard, the final double points race of the day became a tactical game from start to finish, the team using their experience to sail SAP Extreme Sailing Team down the pack, as McMillan explained: “It’s a tough situation when you have one eye on the regatta itself and one eye on the Series. SAP Extreme Sailing Team went into this event in the lead in the Series rankings, so we had an opportunity where we could squeeze them back behind Red Bull Sailing Team in the last race, so that’s what we did. It never feels good doing that but that’s what you have to do to take advantage of the situation when you can.” The bold move from the experienced crew on The Wave, Muscat not only cost SAP Extreme Sailing Team second place in Cardiff but it also stripped them of their lead in the overall Series standings.
The battle for second place was intense between the Austrian Red Bull Sailing Team and the Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team, who went into the final race tied on points – a simple case of who wins, wins. Red Bull Sailing Team were on fire all day and barely put a foot wrong – an impressive four race wins and third in the final race of the day earning the Austrians a well deserved second place. With regular skipper Roman Hagara coaching the team from the support RIB throughout the week due to a shoulder injury, helm Jason Waterhouse and skipper Hans Peter Steinacher clearly relished the conditions that were, at times, on the edge of control. The team even managed to pull back from the brink of a near capsize, to claim an incredible race win. Watch the video sequence here.
Hans Peter Steinacher summed up the day: “Everyone tried to stop us but on days like this we were unstoppable. This is one of the best days we’ve ever had in the Extreme Sailing Series. We started the day great with a lot of wind, we were so focused and the boys had a lot of energy. They’re just working so hard, and in conditions like this with strong winds, they’re not scared.”
Awarded the Land Rover Above and Beyond Award for teamwork and performance under pressure this week, and for securing their best Act result so far this year, GAC Pindar co-skippered by Chris Draper and Seve Jarvin just missed out on the podium despite consistently putting the pressure on the top teams finishing the Act on 232 points in fourth followed by Gazprom team Russia skippered by Igor Lisovenko.
Physically tough, the conditions took their toll on the boats as well as the crews over the four days. Oman Air finished the regatta in sixth after winning the final double points race of the Act with a convincing lead but were unable to recover from missing four races after their winch pulled clean off the deck in yesterday’s racing. Lino Sonego Team Italia and Team Turx powered by Kaya Ropes also suffered problems on deck and despite both posting podium positions over the weekend, neither couldn’t find the consistency to compete with the more experienced crews.
At the halfway mark of the Series just three points separate the top three boats, with The Wave, Muscat now leading the charge one point ahead of second place SAP Extreme Sailing Team with Red Bull Sailing Team in third. Next stop is a brand new venue on the global tour, as the fleet head to Hamburg, Germany for Act 5 presented by Land Rover and launch into the second half of the season, 23-26 July.
What they said:
Rasmus Køstner, SAP Extreme Sailing Team – “We knew from the beginning that The Wave, Muscat would try and make things difficult for us but that is how it is. During the first part of the last race I think we did quite well to stay away from them and sail our own race but in the end we got too close to The Wave, where they could then made things a bit more interesting! We kept fighting and managed to overtake them but didn’t close the gap to Red Bull Sailing Team. It was great racing and hats off to Red Bull Sailing Team for a fantastic performance, they definitely deserve to be on the podium.”
Stevie Morrison, Oman Air – “The Series is a good challenge. It’s really different with a lot of new skills you need to learn and a completely different mentality. It’s very crash and burn, literally some of the times, and that’s what makes it fun. I think it’s great racing here in front of the crowds and on such a short course. But you have to be very punchy and any little mistakes can prove quite costly.”
Chris Draper, GAC Pindar – “Red Bull Sailing Team sailed an awesome day. They had a great second half of the regatta whereas we kind of went in the opposite direction. We tried to attack the day too hard yesterday and made some silly mistakes, which went down to lack of preparation and experience in the Series. I’m really pleased with how we’ve done this weekend and I’ve really enjoyed sailing with Seve and the boys. Sofuku has done a great job so we’ve ticked all the boxes we’ve hoped to tick.”
Mitch Booth, Team Turx powered by Kaya Ropes – “It was a hard day for us and we struggled from the first race in the tough conditions, but the crew were fighting really hard and by the middle of the day we had a little bit of drama. We broke our gooseneck (the swivel connection by which the boom attaches to the mast) and we had to miss a race, but the team performed pretty well under pressure with everything that was thrown at them – changing crew, broken boat. We fought hard and the last two races went OK for us.”
Leigh McMillan, The Wave, Muscat – “It has been a relentless four days of racing. The wind has been really gusty so it has been pretty nerve-wracking at times with plenty of adrenaline pumping through the team. Cardiff is renowned for these conditions and it really keeps you on your toes the whole time, but it is an enjoyable challenge”
Extreme Sailing Series Act 4, Cardiff presented by Land Rover standings after Day 4, 32 races
Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 268 points.
2nd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Hans Peter Steinacher, Jason Waterhouse, Jeremy Bachelin, Shaun Mason, Stewart Dodson 250 points.
3rd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Mads Emil Stephensen, Brad Farrand 245 points.
4th GAC Pindar (GBR) Chris Draper, Seve Jarvin, Tyson Lamond, James Wierzbowski, Kazuhiko Sofuku 232 points.
5th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Alexander Bozhko, Aleksey Kulakov 213 points.
6th Oman Air (OMA) Stevie Morrison, Nic Asher, Ted Hackney, Ed Powys, Ali Al Balashi 193 points.
7th Team Turx powered by Kaya Ropes (TUR) Mitch Booth, Can Bayulken, Selim Kakış, Diogo Cayolla, Pedro Andrade 173 points.
8th Lino Sonego Team Italia (ITA) Lorenzo Bressani, Enrico Zennaro, Andrea Tesei, Tom Buggy, Stefano Ciampalini 144 points.
Extreme Sailing Series 2015 overall standings
Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 37 points.
2nd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 36 points.
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 34 points.
4th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 24 points.
5th Oman Air (OMA) 23 points.
6th GAC Pindar (AUS) 21 points.
7th Team Turx (TUR) 19 points.
8th Lino Songeo Team Italia (ITA) 14 points.