Austrian skipper, Roman Hagara, managed to fight off the challenges of his competitors to keep Red Bull Extreme Sailing at the top of the leaderboard on the second day of Act 7, Nice but only by 1.5 points.
Day two began in the morning with the 11 Extreme 40 teams sent out to race early to take advantage of the north-westerly gradient breeze from the land. Britain's three-time Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie, scored his first race win in Nice, and Paul Campbell-James at the helm of the Italian team Luna Rossa
claimed the other race before the breeze disappeared.
But the afternoon's racing session produced some champagne sailing conditions! The breeze kicked in, windward hulls were flying, the racing was intense and, at times, too close to call. In the fourth race of the afternoon, Alinghi and Red Bull Extreme Sailing had a dead-heat. "That's pretty incredible,"
skipper Tanguy Cariou. "It is really unusual to see this kind of situation in our sport. It was a genuine photo finish like you see in athletics or cycling. We might need a video replay system soon! Even us onboard, we had no idea if we crossed the finish line before or after them."
During today's official press conference in front of the national and international media, the skippers described the racing as 'intense and close' - even more so in the light conditions. "It's a real test of team work,"
said Ben Ainslie. "When it's windy it's physical, in the light stuff it's about taking a few deep breaths, suck it in and get the results you need."
The first three races this afternoon were raced in a typical Mediterranean light sea breeze with Max Sirena's Italian team Luna Rossa
finding their form that was missing yesterday, to secure two further wins; and Team GAC Pindar
skipper, Ian Williams
, clearly worked out a winning strategy, which he explained at the press conference - avoid the wind shadow of the other boats - to claim a race win and the team's performance today has put them mid-leaderboard.
The final race of the day decided the overall standings ahead of the 'stadium' racing. Terry Hutchinson's Artemis Racing
team nailed the start, judged the lay lines bang on, pulling out a good lead on the Swiss team of Alinghi
, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild
were in third and Red Bull Extreme Sailing
fourth on the final downwind leg with Luna Rossa chasing in fifth. The positions remained unchanged at the finish which allowed Hagara's to retain the overall lead.
made the biggest leap into third place in the rankings from eighth on day one. "We had a great day,"
said Paul Campbell-James. "There is something about the second day of the regattas for us, it's when we seem to have a great day. And today was really shifty and a really hard course. We are not out of the game at the moment which is the most important thing at this stage, and it's all to play for tomorrow. Stadium racing in one of the most beautiful venues we've been to. The beach is packed, the VIP area is nice and close, it will be great."
Pierre Pennec's all-French team remain second in the rankings, courtesy of their third place. Ben Ainslie on Oman Air is only one point ahead of his stablemate Leigh McMillan and the crew on The Wave, Muscat who seem to be struggling here: "It's about adapting to the different conditions quickly, getting off the start line well and we've not done that here," said McMillan. Team Extreme Nice Cote d'Azur skippered by Jean-Pierre Dick now find themselves at the bottom of the overall ranking behind the Italians team of Niceforyou. But the 'rookie' team who had a great day yesterday was always realistic about their chances here racing against the more experienced and highly competitive top-level sailors.
Extreme Sailing Series Act 7, Nice, France standings after 12 races (29.9.11)
Position / Team / Points
1. Red Bull Extreme Sailing
(AUT) Roman Hagara 90.5 points
2. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild
(FRA) Pierre Pennec 89 points
3. Luna Rossa
(ITA) Max Sirena Modena 88 points
(SUI) Tanguy Cariou 85.5 points
5. Artemis Racing
(SWE) Terry Hutchinson 84 points
6. Team GAC Pindar
(GBR) Ian Williams 73 points
7. Oman Air
(OMA) Ben Ainslie 60 points
8. The Wave, Muscat
(OMA) Leigh McMillan Anbouri 59 points
9. Emirates Team New Zealand
(NZL) Dean Barker 56 points
(ITA) Alberto Barovier 54 points
11. Team Extreme Nice Côte d'Azur
(FRA) Jean-Pierre Dick 52 points