Britain's multi-Olympic medalist Ben Ainslie had a great start to the Extreme Sailing Series Act 6 winning two races on the opening day in Trapani, Italy.
Driving Oman Air
at his first ever Extreme 40 event, Ainslie and his team had put in a few days training but were managing expectations pre-start, "I'm really excited to be doing this and learning a new skill,"
said Ainslie pre-start. "But we have to be realistic about where we're starting from and try to improve as we go."
It was hard to improve on the first place they achieved in Race, but Oman Air were then victims of two penalties for being over the line at the start in races 2 and 4.
"It was a good day for us, although we were a bit inconsistent,"
said Ainslie. "We have plenty we can improve on and a lot to talk about, but to be in third position is great. The guys on Oman Air are great sailors, it's me who is the weak link and the quicker I can get a handle on these boats and work out what works and what doesn't the quicker we will start improving."
At the end of the first day, it was the experienced Swiss team of Alinghi
skippered by Tanguy Cariou who took pole position after the five 'open water' races staged in somewhat light and shifty conditions.
"It was a good day for us, good teamwork on board and good speed,"
said Cariou on the dockside. "It was really tricky with plenty of shifts and big wind holes but we are happy. Last time we sailed it was in tough conditions but here on the open water we have a lot of space and light conditions so people can find the good angles. Tomorrow it will be more difficult as everybody will learn from today and we still have four days left and a long way to go with three days of stadium racing."
Three different teams scored race wins today including Team Extreme
'Sailing Seacily' sailing under the colours of Trapani with Sebbe Godefroid stepping up as skipper at this event in place of Roland Gaebler. The all-Belgian team had an up and down day (finishing eighth on the leaderboard) as did many of the teams, but The Wave, Muscat skippered by Leigh McMillan proved to be the most consistent, finishing no lower than 6th place.
"It's about not getting stressed about the bad positions and stay calm as the good ones will come,"
said McMillan. "The intensity in the light airs is different as your tactics and strategy changes - its slow to accelerate and getting into clean air with 10 boats is tricky and the dirty air can be a big problem."
The Wave, Muscat now occupy second place on the leaderboard, trailing Alinghi by nine points.
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild
and Red Bull Extreme Sailing
both challenged at the front a couple of times, scoring a second place each, but found themselves all too often buried in the middle. The Italian team of Luna Rossa
seemed to be in their groove posting three fourth places and a sixth, then it went wrong. "It was a tough day,"
said skipper Max Sirena. "It was really light, puffy and shifty. In the last race we made some mistakes on the reach downwind and we lost a couple of positions in the last couple of hundred meters. Alinghi and the other teams have all had a lot of up and down races which is good for us. We are looking forward to having a better day tomorrow."
Thursday is another day of 'open water' racing with Act 6 switching to 'stadium' racing format on Friday, when the Race Village opens to the public.
Extreme Sailing Series Act 6 at Trapani supported by Telecom Italia
Overall standings after 5 races (14.9.11)
Position / Team / Points
1. Alinghi (SUI) Tanguy Cariou 48 points
2. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan 39 points
3. Oman Air (OMA) Ben Ainslie 35 points
4. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Adam Beashel 34 points
5. Luna Rossa (ITA) Max Sirena 33 points
6. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec 32 points
7. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) Roman Hagara 31 points
8. Team Extreme 'Sailing Seacily' (EUR) Sebbe Godefroid 29 points
9. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams 25 points
10. Niceforyou (ITA) Alberto Barovier 19 points