The third day of racing on the French Riviera for the Extreme 40s could prove to be one of the most defining days of the whole 2014 season, with the leaderboard well and truly blown open. There were plenty of movers and shakers in the rankings, but the most significant moves came from Alinghi, who came to Nice with a slender one-point lead in the Series rankings, between them and the team challenging them for the season title, The Wave, Muscat.
The Swiss took an impressive 54 points from a possible 70, while the Omanis could only add 21 to their tally, and the result: Alinghi lead, The Wave, Muscat last going into tomorrow’s final showdown, leaving The Wave, Muscat now planning their damage limitation strategy.
Explaining what worked for them today, Morgan Larson commented: “Sometimes in the light air, if you just focus on your positioning, your tactics and your starts and ignore the other boats – it works. That was our strategy this morning; ignore the other boats. I know I keep my loose eye on The Wave, Muscat all the time, and the team remind me to just sail the boat well, and we did that – which in turn will put the pressure on them. It’s working, but there’s still a lot of races to go.”
For the defending champions from Oman it was a day of sailing they will want to forget. But while the team are down, they are by no means out and when the pressure is on, Leigh McMillan has more then enough ability to rise to the challenge and bounce back, which the team’s tactician Sarah Ayton was positive about: “It was a really tough day – the conditions were such that if you had a good start then you could lead either into the left or into the right and that’s were the gains were. As a team we are solid, our roles, routines, the synergy on the boat is good – so we’ll just take a bit of time to reflect on our performance and have another go tomorrow.”
Realteam, who have led the regatta since day one, did well to maintain their podium position and head into tomorrow in second place, just 10 points behind Alinghi, and three ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand, somewhat to the relief of Skipper Jérôme Clerc. “It was a tough day for us, we are surprised by the overall standings because we didn’t think we had a good day. The plan of attack for tomorrow is to continue to navigate as we did the first few days, it is quite regular and strategy work. The mindset will also play a role tomorrow because it is going to be complicated; everyone will want to attack and be on the podium.”
Seven races were sailed, and with so much at stake, the teams took plenty of risks in the light conditions, often rolling the dice and trying to break away from the pack to make gains. On the tight and congested racetrack, mistakes were punished hard; misjudge the start and there was no coming back, find yourself stuck in a hole in the wind and sufferer the consequences.
Those who could minimise mistakes and stay out of trouble rose to the top, and it was a great day of racing for Rob Greenhalgh and the team from the Sultanate of Oman, Oman Air, scoring two race wins to upgrade their overnight position from eighth to fourth at the close of play. “It was a difficult day, we didn’t start off brilliantly but then we had a string of reasonable results all the way through,” said Greenhalgh “We were good downwind and made some good decisions. We will go out tomorrow and do the best we can – the team has made excellent progress and we hope to continue to.”
Behind them is J.P. Morgan BAR who had a consistently inconsistent day like much of the fleet, currently in fifth place and leading the middle of the pack. Just one point behind are the new boys from Down Under on GAC Pindar, and while it has been a steep learning curve this season the team are getting better Act by Act, as skipper Nathan Wilmot explained: “I think we’ve learnt a lot over the last couple of regattas. Generally we are being more consistent although we had a couple of bad races today. I think we are learning a lot and up there fighting at the top of the fleet in a lot of the races, so we’ve just got to try and keep it up and hopefully we’ll keep doing it come Sydney.”
Gazprom Team Russia tumbled a few places on the leaderboard, and finish the day tied on points with Red Bull Sailing Team in seventh place. Roman Hagara and his crew had a much better day, making the right sort of waves to move up from eleventh to eighth at the close of play and their double Olympic champion skipper Roman Hagara explained what was different: “We sat down as a team yesterday and tried to analyse all of the things we did that were both bad and good, and then came up with a plan for today. So we’ve continuously improved over the last three days, and that’s what we’ll try and do tomorrow.”
As is the way in Extreme Sailing Series, the final double points race can be a shoot-out that always has twists and turns, and expect tomorrow to be no different, with any team mathematically capable of a top three finish at the close of play. Watch live from 1530 local time (GMT+2) on mysailing. Click on the link in Videos to open the player.
Extreme Sailing Series Act 7 Nice standings after Day 3, 22 races (4.10.14)
Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 135 points.
2nd Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wasem 125 points.
3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Peter Burling, Glenn Ashby, Blair Tuke, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 122 points.
4th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Ted Hackney, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 120 points.
5th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Campbell-James, Bleddyn Mon, Matt Cornwell 110 points.
6th GAC Pindar (AUS) Nathan Wilmot, Seve Jarvin, Hugh Styles, Tyson Lamond, James Wierzbowski 109 points.
7th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 106 points.
8th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Thomas Cjakgak, Stewart Dodson 106 points.
9th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Tanguy Cariou, Valentin Bellet, Arnaud Jarlegan, Devan Le Bihan 105 points.
10th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Christian Kamp, Brad Farrand 98 points.
11th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 95 points.