The Wave, Muscat put in a first-class performance on the first day of stadium racing winning five out of the six races, claiming pole position going into the penultimate day at the Extreme Sailing Series Act 6 in Trapani.
Leigh McMillan and his team were seamless in their starts, boat handling and called all the right shots. They seemed unstoppable until Ben Ainslie on Oman Air
and Roman Hagara's Red Bull Extreme Sailing
broke their winning streak.
Trapani again delivered excellent racing conditions with a good 15 knots of breeze, and plenty of action for the spectators to get excited about. "It was a really fantastic day for us, we are ecstatic," said The Wave skipper Leigh McMillan. "It is the first time this year we have had results like that. We have done our work today but we still have to go out tomorrow and perform again."
The Swiss team of Alinghi
started strongly today but then faltered. A third place in the final race helped consolidate their defence against the Italian Luna Rossa
. The two teams had been trading punches all afternoon in front of the public who were giving their very vocal support to the 'home' teams of Luna Rossa, Niceforyou
and Team Extreme Sailing Seacily.
It came to a head in the penultimate race when Max Sirena's team lost out in a port/starboard incident and a penalty put them last. "Today was completely different to yesterday on the 'open water' sailing,"
said Sirena. "It was really hard to sail in clear air and we play with all the other teams to try to have the best start but, unfortunately, we had two false starts which was really hard to come back. Tonight we will analyse our mistakes and tomorrow we will try not to make them."
Ben Ainslie and his team on Oman Air
thrived in the close combat racing today, climbing into fourth place in the standings. "Today was amazing,"
said Ainslie. "It was like nothing I have ever experienced before. I couldn't quite believe it before the racing and I said to the guys 'Is this really the size of the race course?' and they said that this was quite a big course! It was great racing, lots of incidents and good breeze. This is a great opportunity for me as I have been sailing the Finn now for eight months and it's great to have a break."
Ainslie used his legendary competitive streak and match racing skills to the full today. Knowing exactly what his rights were and forcing the others to make errors, as witnessed in the second race of the day when Ainslie barged his way to the finish line with the law on his side. Paul Campbell-James failed to take avoiding action quick enough and was penalised. Pre-racing Campbell-James said, "He [Ainslie] is very good at the boat on boat aspect and you can see that from the last two Olympic medal races where he just took out the opposition. And that is what it will be like today."
He wasn't wrong!
Pierre Pennec's team were consistent today finishing higher than fifth place in all but one race, and it was only a ninth place in the first race that saw the all-French team drop to fifth overall. Roman Hagara's Red Bull Extreme Sailing
held onto their sixth place ahead of ETNZ
with a strong performance including a race win and three third places. As Team GAC Pindar's Ian Williams said yesterday, the lack of boat speed that punished them on the longer 'open water' courses over the last two days did not play such a factor on the short stadium courses and Team GAC Pindar
climb into eighth place.
There are still plenty of points to play for over the remaining two days of stadium racing and the sailors know the tables could still be turned.
Extreme Sailing Series Act 6 at Trapani supported by Telecom Italia
Overall standings after 17 races (16.9.11)
Position / Team / Points
1. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan 142 points
2. Alinghi (SUI) Tanguy Cariou 136 points
3. Luna Rossa (ITA) Max Sirena 129 points
4. Oman Air (OMA) Ben Ainslie 124.5 points
5. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec 124 points
6. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) Roman Hagara 119 points
7. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Adam Beashel 65.5 points
8. Niceforyou (ITA) Alberto Barovier 59 points
9. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams 52 points
10. Team Extreme 'Sailing Seacily' (EUR) Sebbe Godefroid 40 points