There was four and a half hours of high-drama on the second day of the Act 2 at the Extreme Sailing Series in Qingdao, China.
The Austrian Red Bull Extreme Sailing
team thought they had snatched the overall lead from Emirates Team New Zealand
in the final race only to find their victory in tatters after Dean Barker
's (NZL) team were given redress (a rare occasion on this circuit); the 11-boat close combat racing resulted in two collisions; and, to top it all, Roland Gaebler
's (GER) Team Extreme
won their first race of the season with the Mayor of Qingdao on board in the 5th man spot, to the delight of the public.
Six 'open water' races were raced today outside the breakwater of Fushan Bay. The breeze was a up and down but predominantly strong enough to see the Extreme 40 fleet flying their hulls - when it dropped, the teams had to deploy a different set of tactics to find an advantage which split the fleet on numerous occasions as Roman Hagara
(AUT) explains, "It was a pretty hard day today, especially on the start line as the wind was shifting a lot and there was a big difference in pressure. Quiet difficult to know where to go, which side of the start line is better, where the pressure is the most powerful."
Barker's team was consistently good and finished inside the top four in the first five races, winning the penultimate race. It looked like the Kiwi team would retain their overall lead.
But in classic Extreme style, the script appeared to be rewritten in the final race of the day.
Barker's team was called over the start line and Hagara's team were off leading the race all the way to the finish line. Emirates Team New Zealand
needed to finish in sixth place or higher to keep their lead and fought all the way from the back, climbing into seventh place at the finish.
It looked like they had lost their overall lead to Red Bull Extreme Sailing. But post-racing video footage proved that Emirates Team New Zealand
were not in fact over the line and redress upgraded the team to fourth place - the overall lead at the halfway stage remains with the Kiwi team for now.
The Swiss team of Alinghi
, skippered by Tanguy Cariou
(FRA) and helmed by ex-Groupe Edmond de Rothschild
skipper Yann Guichard
(FRA), had a strong day and has climbed into third place.
Max Sirena's Luna Rossa
team, helmed by 2010 champion Paul Campbell-James
(GBR) also had a strong day winning the first race of the day to climb from sixth overall yesterday to fourth overall today.
For Gaebler's Team Extreme
they were ecstatic to score their first race win of 2011, "It is only the second round for us so we do not have a lot of experience, so winning a race today is very nice. Especially as we had the mayor of Qingdao onboard, he kept smiling all the way!
"It's not just a race that we have won today, I really hope that it will bring awareness of professional sailing in the area. Chinese sailors are really talented here so they deserve to be in the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series with their own boat."
Tomorrow is the first day of 'stadium' racing when the Act 2 in Qingdao opens formally to the public. "Obviously, it will be a completely different game tomorrow with the stadium racing,"
"There is still a long way to go and a lot can still be won. The important thing is to stay in the leading pack and probably the final day will be the decisive. For sure, which Extreme 40 team gets to lift the Double Star Cup for the Extreme Sailing Series Qingdao is far from decided."