The dramatic second Act of the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series at the Olympic sailing venue in Qingdao proved to be the perfect amphitheatre for the stadium format racing.
Capsizes, collisions and after 29 races over five days just five points separated the two former America's Cup adversaries, Luna Rossa
and Emirates Team New Zealand
at the end.
The Italian team fought to the finish to claim the Double Star Cup in the very final double-points race.
"We are really happy,"
said skipper Max Sirena, "It should be a long night for the Luna Rossa team tonight! It's a great result for us as we are a new team even if we have Paul and Alistair onboard who where part of the winning team last year, but Manuel and I are still learning.
"Compared to our result in Muscat, we really see the improvement here in Qingdao as our boat handling and the communication onboard is a lot better."
The 44 sailors will leave Qingdao with some very vivid memories. The dramatic skyline of the city - the buildings fully lit up at night by neon lights; the hospitality and graciousness of their Qingdao hosts; the spectacular opening ceremony; and perhaps, not surprisingly, the drama of day three.
A major collision, four capsizes and one broken mast was the tally after a day of strong gusty conditions, but the next day following a night of recovery saw all the boats and crew racing again.
The Qingdao public witnessed the 11-boat fleet in survival mode on Friday and tactical light-wind battles over the last two days, with fleet racing inside and outside Fushan Bay, one on one match racing and speed duels.
"The last few days the weather has been difficult but you know we have to be prepared for the difficult conditions,"
said Dean Barker, Emirates Team New Zealand
skipper who talked down his disappointment.
"Realistically five boats were still in a position to win the event this morning. We had a couple of shockers yesterday but all in all it went pretty well so I'm very satisfied. The Almeria event was only October last year so being on the podium here is a big improvement, but we still have a long way to go."
The all-French team on board Groupe Edmond de Rothschild
, winners of Act 1, also sailed brilliantly today to clinch the final podium place in third.
Red Bull Extreme Sailing
, one of the capsize victim's, will be disappointed with their fourth-placed result here after such a strong start in the early stages of Act 2.
Similarly disappointed were the Swiss team of Alinghi
, who went into the final day challenging for the podium, "We started the event well but it didn't go really well today with a few mistakes on the start lines, tactical decisions, speed of the boat, everything was tough for us,"
said skipper Tanguy Cariou
(FRA). "We are really disappointed with the result but we have to analyse and debrief to improve in Istanbul."
skippered by Argentinian Santi Lange, in place of resident skipper Terry Hutchinson, not surprisingly took a bit of time to find their form without little training time but evolved into a contender at the halfway stage to finish a respectable sixth place.
The Wave, Muscat
and Oman Air
who had a big collision early on day three and then both capsized later, finished in seventh and ninth place respectively after rallying in the light airs of the last two days.
"What a week it has been for u think it's the best day for Oman Air since the beginning of the season. Winning a race today and doing a few good starts was key for us,"
said Oman Air
skipper, Sidney Gavignet
(FRA). "It's good to believe in ourselves again, we were looking like stupid freaks two days ago and I think we look a bit more solid today."
's Team Extreme who look to sail with a local sailor at each venue, were really happy with their performance here posting three race wins to finish in eighth place overall. Both Yan Zhi Zhang from Qingdao and William Wu from Shanghai got the opportunity to train and race with the team over the five days. Rounding up the Act 2 leader board were the Italian team Niceforyou
and Britain's Team GAC Pindar
who both displayed some winning moments here but are still climbing the Extreme 40 multihull learning curve.
The 2011 Extreme Sailing Series now heads for Istanbul, Turkey, over the 25th-29th May.
Extreme Sailing Series Website