The forecast for the second day of Act 5 in Cardiff was for lighter winds but the breeze over-delivered again on Cardiff Bay.
If the increase in wind pressure was unexpected, the pressure on the teams as they battled for their position on the leaderboard was exactly as expected. The nine boats fought tooth and nail for the best position off the start line and gave no quarter in the close racing that unfolded on Cardiff Bay.
Eight races in total were staged on the second day and, once again, good starts and slick boat handling was demanded in the gusty conditions - the French team Groupe Edmond de Rothschild came very close to capsizing at the downwind bearaway mark in the sixth race of the day but escaped unscathed, although the onboard cameraman only just managed to hang on.
The eight races produced six different winners including the Swiss team Alinghi, GAC Pindar and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild. "If we had more space to play, the wind would not be so much of a problem as we are finding in such a small and constrained environment,"
said Alinghi skipper, Ernesto Bertarelli.
Morgan Larson's Oman Air pushed the Austrian team of Red Bull Sailing Team hard, coming within two points of the Act 5 leaders after 6 races. Despite the close competition, Red Bull Sailing Team remain top of the rankings ahead of Oman Air and overall Series leaders The Wave, Muscat are back in contention now lying third in the rankings at the halfway point of Act 5.
"Maybe we were a little conservative at times but generally we were safe, in control and trying to sail cleanly, so we can't complain and we're moving up the leaderboard as we always do after a bad day,"
said British skipper Leigh McMillan. "We've got two more days of getting back into Red Bull's points, we took a little bit out of them today and we will continue to do that."
GAC Pindar dropped a place, now lying in fourth but skipper Andrew Walsh is pinning his hopes on his crew's improving performance, "We had a real rough start to the day with three bad ones shall we say, but then we pulled our fingers out and got back to starting really well. The guys crew work has been brilliant and it's really puffy wind conditions out there, so if you've got good boat handling it just means your tactics become so much easier and it felt like if we weren't having a good race we could just overtake a few boats through really good crew work."
Pierre Pennec's all-French team had the most rewarding day finishing in fifth place, climbing two places from yesterday. "Tonight, we are just 10 points off the podium. Even if we have the impression that we have sailed under our best level, we still are very close and gained two places overall,"
For the local entry, Team Wales backed by the King of Shaves, who enjoyed the support of the home crowd, the biggest cheer came in the first race when they led the fleet around the tight race course only being overhauled by Red Bull Sailing Team in the final phase of the race. "The circuit style racing is not what we are used to, but it's great,"
said Team Wales skipper Dave Evans, who at 26 is the youngest skipper in the fleet in Cardiff. "Friends and family are down watching, and everyone seems to have a smile on their face. All of us have done our individual sailing, so when we knew our jobs it was a case of just communicating it. The communication sounds easy to do, but actually it is the hardest bit in sailing I think!"
The pace of the Extreme 40 racing is unforgiving, each race lasting just 10 minutes or so, with a few minutes rest in between, then it is full on physicality for the five crew as they throw their 40-foot speed machines around the tight, demanding courses. "It's all pretty frantic at the front, but it's been great,"
said Team GB 470 sailor and London 2012 silver medallist, Hannah Mills who works the bow on board Team Wales. "The fleet is generally having a right-old battle. It's just wicked racing - so close and so short, and so exciting all the time."
Tomorrow's forecast is for 15 knots but don't be surprised if there is more - it has been the case so far and there will be no respite for the racing crews going into the penultimate day of Act 5 in Cardiff.
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 5, Cardiff, Wales, UK standings after Day 2, 16 races
Position / Team / Points
1.Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT), Roman Hagara 102 points
2. Oman Air (OMA), Morgan Larson 93 points
3. The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Leigh McMillan 91 points
4. GAC Pindar (GBR), Andrew Walsh 86 points
5. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec 83 points
6. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN), Jes Gram-Hansen 80 points
7. Alinghi (SUI), Ernesto Bertarelli 78 points
8. Team Wales, Dave Evans 56 points
9. ZouLou (FRA), Erik Maris 50 points