Photos: Vincent Crutchet/Dark Frame

Victory for The Wave, Muscat in Istanbul

Close run series with Red Bull and Gitana

Sunday June 10th 2012, Author: Nicky Moore, Location: Turkey

In the closest finish we have seen so far this year, Leigh McMillan and his crew onboard The Wave, Muscat won the Extreme Sailing Series in Istanbul, after four days and 29 races.

The contest has seen the Omani team in a game of cat and mouse with Roman Hagara and his Austrian Red Bull Sailing Team since the word ‘go’.  After day one Hagara was on top, the on day two it was McMillan's turn. Day three and Hagara was back in pole position and the question everyone was asking this morning was whether Hagara and his crew could defend their position at the top of the leaderboard, and win their first ever Extreme Sailing Series event. Meanwhile no one was discounting Pierre Pennec and his team on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, and a win for the French in the final double-points race was enough for Pennec to leapfrog Hagara to claim second place.

Six races were sailed in the final day with the forecasters predicating big breeze this morning with gusts of up to 17 knots – and the weather didn’t disappoint. In the strongest breeze the fleet have sailed in all week, it was hull flying, water spraying action as the Extreme 40s charged around the race course in 15 knots of wind, completing each race in less then 14 minutes.

An elated McMillan, whose smile said it all tonight, commented: “It’s been a really tough week. I am just over the moon with our result here. It’s been a heroic effort from all the guys on the boat – a fantastic performance, we are getting better all the time and learning how each other sail. We are already looking forward to the next Act in Porto, it is getting very close, so [the competition] is just going to be getting tighter and tighter, and more stressful. We are sure we will be battling it out until the end of the Series.”

Pierre Pennec added: “We were close to finish in first position but a second is a positive result. We are consistent and have been on the podium at all three events this year. In the overall ranking, The Wave, Muscat increases their advantage, but the season is long and we will have to maintain the pace until the end of the season in Brazil.”

The real story of Istanbul unfolded today in race 27. Hagara led Red Bull Sailing Team to a great start, powering off the line as the fleet drag raced to the first mark – while McMillan was stuck in seventh place. But going into the second lap, Hagara’s crew got their gennaker tangled which cost them five places on the water – including a place to The Wave, Muscat. McMillan took full advantage, picking off the rest of the opposition one by one, before ultimately winning that race – and they never relinquished the lead.

An understandably frustrated Hagara commented: “The final day just didn’t turn out well for us. In the end, it’s the little things that are crucial, even a wrong spinnaker hoist or a bad start can turn out really bad overall. Our attitude is that you’ve got to go for the win, we still have that as our aim and that’s what we are looking for from the next Act in Porto.”

Winners of the first event in Muscat, Oman Air, who were in contention for a podium place going into the day, won the opening race today but fell short of the podium, finishing fourth overall. Meanwhile the form team of the day were the 2012 new boys, SAP Extreme Sailing Team. They won two races, more than any other team today, and finished fifth overall – the best result so far this year for America’s Cup sailors and co-skippers Rasmus Kostner and Jes Gram-Hanson. Despite dominating the Bosphorus racing yesterday, three times world match-racing champion Ian Williams could only manage a seventh place for his British crew on GAC Pindar.

Istanbul has seen two new faces on the start line, with Alain Gautier making his Extreme 40 debut at the helm of the Swiss team Alinghi, while Erik Maris returns to the Extreme Sailing Series at the helm of ZouLou having competed in 2008 and 2009 with Luna. Maris, whose French team missed the first two races today while they made repairs to their main halyard, showed some real moments of potential in Istanbul and he had nothing praise for his competitors: “As far as racing is concerned I think that the level has significantly increased since I last sailed in this Series, as we expected. All the boats sail and race extremely well, so it’s tough. The fleet is still fantastic, the guys racing are just the best frankly.”

Istanbul has delivered the eight Extreme 40s with the best conditions they have sailed in all year – blue skies, warm weather and most importantly – great breeze. From racing on the stunning waters of the Bosphorus to the stadium racing against the backdrop of Istanbul’s old town and the famous Blue Mosque, Istanbul is event the Extreme 40 fleet and the local spectator will not forget in a hurry. Next stop is Porto, over 5-8 July.

Finals standings after 29 races
Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan / Ed Smyth / Pete Greenhalgh / Hashim Al Rashdi / Rachel Williamson 174 points
2nd Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec / Christophe Espagnon / Hervé Cunningham / Bernard Labro / Romain Petit 169 points
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Matthew Adams / Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche 159 points
4th Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson / Will Howden / Charlie Ogletree / Nasser Al Mashari / Max Bulger 146 points
5th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram‐Hansen / Rasmus Kostner / Pete Cumming / Mikkel Rossberg / Jonas Hviid 131 points
6th GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams / Nick Rogers/ Mark Bulkeley / Adam Piggot / Andrew Walsh 113 points
7th Alinghi (SUI), Alain Gautier / Jean-­‐Christophe Mourniac / Christophe Lassegue / Morgane Gautie / François Verdier 99 points
8th ZouLou (FRA) Erik Maris / Philippe Mourniac / Jean-Sébastien Ponce / Bruno Jeanjean / Patrick Aucour 86 points

Extreme Sailing Series 2012 overall standings after three events
1st The Wave, Muscat 29 points
2nd Groupe Edmond de Rothschild 25 points
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team 24 points
4th Oman Air 23 points
5th GAC Pindar 18 points
6th ZouLou 13 points
7th SAP Extreme Sailing Team 13 points
8th Alinghi 11 points

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