Mark Lloyd /

Alinghi shines, The Wave bombs

Leigh McMillan on the wire going into the final day of the Extreme Sailing Series Nice

Saturday October 4th 2014, Author: Nicola Moore, Location: France

The third day of racing at the Extreme Sailing Series Nice proved to be one of the most defining days of the whole 2014 season, with the leaderboard well and truly blown open. There was plenty of movement, but the most significant from Alinghi, who came to Nice with a slender one-point lead in the overall 2014 Series leaderboard, ahead of The Wave, Muscat. Today 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 leads, while The Wave, Muscat is an uncharacteristic last going into tomorrow’s final showdown, leaving Omani team now forced to manage their damage limitation strategy.

Explaining what worked for them today, Alinghi helm 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 The Wave, Muscat, it was a day they will want to forget. Saying this, skipper Leigh McMillan has more then enough ability to rise to the challenge and bounce back. Tactician Sarah Ayton remained positive: “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, which has led the regatta since day one, did well to maintain its podium position and head into tomorrow in second place, just 10 points behind Alinghi, and three ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand. This came as a relief to 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, and teams found themselves stuck in a hole to suffer 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 Oman Air, scoring two race wins to upgrade their overnight position from eighth to fourth. “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 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 is GAC Pindar, and while it has been a steep learning curve this season the team are continually improving 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 finished the day tied on points with Red Bull Sailing Team in seventh place. Roman Hagara and his crew had a much better day, moving up from 11th to eighth at the close of play. Their double Tornado 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.

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. 



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