Wilmot and GAC Pindar off to a great start at Extreme Series Nice

GAC Pindar has got off to a storming start on Day 1 of Act 7 of the Extreme Sailing Series in Nice, France. Following a second place finish in the first race of the day and two more podium finishes, GAC Pindar currently sit in fourth position on the leader board.

The day’s racing was dominated by incredibly light winds, with some races taking place in less than four knots. However, GAC Pindar utilised all of the experience of Olympic Gold Medallist Nathan Wilmot to manoeuvre their way successfully around the Nice course. Wilmot commented, “Today was a great start for us. We performed exactly as we knew we could and have put ourselves in a very strong position going into day two.”

Cool as ever, Wilmot said: “We just kept plugging some good races in now and then, and in the lighter air you have a little more time to think about what’s going on. We just tried to sail the boat fast around the course and stay out of trouble with everyone and it seems to have worked well today. It’s pretty hard out there and it can be frustrating so it’s quite hard on the brain when trying to figure out where to go, but if we can keep the boat going around the course nicely we’ll be there doing alright at the end.”

The team is enjoying the experience of British Olympian Hugh Styles who replaces Jack McCartney as trimmer and James Wierzbowski returns on tactics to complete a strong crew in Nice.

GAC Pindar Principal Andrew Pindar said: “We’re using the Extreme Sailing Series as a key tool to drive our sailors’ development and they’re looking to compete strongly here and then move on to Sydney in front of a passionate home crowd in December. 

“This week gives the team another opportunity to polish their performance and improve their consistency levels. It will be intriguing to see how we team deal with the open seas that Nice offers, a unique challenge in the Series.”

The light winds  called for pin-point precision from the teams as the battle at the penultimate Act of the 2014 global tour began on the sparkling Mediterranean waters. There was change in the air with the newer teams on the circuit calling the shots and Realteam had all the right tactics and boat speed as the fastest average team according to the SAP sailing analytics.

The Swiss team scored two first and two seconds places finishing the end of day one in pole position, and skipper Jérôme Clerc commented: “With these light wind conditions, it is even harder to be ahead all the time but I think we have been able to find a good strategy for the day. I think we have to continue with this spirit and try to limit the bad races.”

Despite not scoring in race two after sailing the wrong course whilst leading, Gazprom Team Russia sailed an impressive day, scoring two race wins to claim second place overall, on equal points with the all-French fixture on Groupama sailing team skippered by Franck Cammas at the close of play. Team Russia’s skipper Phil Robertson, who only took over the tiller at Act 5 Cardiff, spoke about ‘fine-tuning’ their Extreme 40 for light wind racing.

“Your whole set up changes with your rig tuning and speed wise, the whole balance of the boat changes. We talk about these factors after every race, whether we need to make any changes or not and as a whole, chat about what we can improve on. That was really good today and the boys put in a big effort to make sure we were going fast. The trick now is just to keep that rolling. The hard part is having another day like this over the next three days, and keep as consistent as possible when we’re not having such a great day so that’s the key.”

Ben Ainslie and the British on J.P. Morgan BAR made the right sort of waves in the opening races, and looked to be in imperious form, but a penalty in the third race followed by a start line collision with Alinghi in the fourth cost them valuable points. The Brits finish the day in a credible fifth place, tied with Emirates Team New Zealand, helmed here by Pete Burling, fresh from a successful defense of the World 49er title in Spain.

J.P. Morgan BAR’s bowman Matt Cornwell explained what it was like on the course. “It was very tricky, very light and very easy to put yourself in situations where you’re looking to be in the top three, and then very quickly you can be in the bottom three, so it’s very hard to get those calls right. I think it was the same for everyone and there’s a lot of teams out there that looked frustrated with today’s racing but actually I think we’re all on similar points and it’s all very tight.”

It wasn’t such a pretty story for the current Series leader Alinghi, and their long-standing dueling partners The Wave, Muscat who both found themselves in the bottom half of the fleet more than the top today. The pair finish the day tied on 39 points in seventh place, leaving themselves with a bit of work to do over the next three days.

Despite managing to finish a handful of races in the top three between them, Oman Air, Red Bull Sailing Team and SAP Extreme Sailing Team all struggled in the light airs finishing the day in ninth to eleventh respectively. The opening day is just a shakedown of what is to come over the next three days here in Nice, and expect plenty more twists and turns on the leaderboard. Watch tomorrow’s racing live from 1530 local time, (GMT+2) at extremesailingseries.com.

Extreme Sailing Series Act 7 Nice standings after Day 1, 8 races (2.10.14)
Position / Team / Points
1st Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wassem 51 points.
2nd Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Matt Adams, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 48 points.
3rd Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Tanguy Cariou, Valentin Bellet, Arnaud Jarlegan, Devan Le Bihan 48 points.
4th GAC Pindar (AUS) Nathan Wilmot, Seve Jarvin, Hugh Styles, Tyson Lamond, James Wierzbowski 45 points.
5th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Campbell-James, Bleddyn Mon, Matt Cornwell 44 points.
6th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Peter Burling, Glenn Ashby, Blair Tuke, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 44 points.
7th Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 39 points.
8th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 39 points.
9th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Ted Hackney, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 33 points.
10th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Shaun Mason, Stewart Dodson 30 points.
11th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Christian Kamp, Brad Farrand 26 points.



Race Yachts
Jeanneau JY55