The beautiful Bosphorus was where proceedings commenced on the penultimate day of Act 3 in Istanbul, providing one of the most stunning race courses the Extreme 40s have ever raced on.
Red Bull Sailing Team are back in the driving seat as the eight Extreme 40s head into the final day, but their day was not without incident after a collision with GAC Pindar left the teams locked in protest at the end of the day.
During the opening race on the Bosphorus the team from Austria sustained serious damage to their port hull after a collision with the Brits on board GAC Pindar, led by match racing star Ian Williams, which ripped a 40-cm long hole in the carbon fibre sailing machine. The decision by the on-the-water umpires was that Hagara was at fault for not avoiding the collision, and after a redress tonight, the original decision still stands. Hagara's team will be penalized with a starting penalty in one of tomorrow's races.
Despite the crash hanging over their heads as the fleet moved to stadium mode this afternoon, Red Bull Sailing Team came back fighting with a succession of top three results, before ultimately claiming the top spot in the final race of the day. The team is on track for their first ever event win tomorrow but Hagara was realistic about the competition, "We're going to go all out tomorrow to try to stay in front. There are still four boats with a chance to win this. It's going to be really, really difficult."
The Wave, Muscat was on fire in the two Bosphorus races with a win in the opening race followed by a second place. It looked like it was going to be McMillan's day as the teams moved into stadium mode in the gusty conditions that had the hulls flying high and kept the on-water umpires busy as the teams pushed the envelope resulting in numerous close calls at the marks. But it turned out to be a different story for The Wave, Muscat as an irate McMillan explained, "We found it very tough; we had really bad starts, although very good comebacks. We did actually sail very well, but it's pretty frustrating to not get off the start line and have to fight back every race."
Down, but certainly not out, McMillan has turned his attention to the task in hand tomorrow. "We are still in contention so come tomorrow we will be back in good shape - smiles will be back on our faces. We are normally pretty good on the last day, obviously they [Red Bull Sailing Team] are a threat, but we are looking forward to going out and duking it out with them tomorrow."
The French pre-seasons favourites on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild have been slowly chipping away at the leaderboard, showing that they were playing the long game with three race wins propelling them into third place today. Pierre Pennec, who has been runner up in the Extreme Sailing Series for the last two years said, "It´s been a great racing day. Conditions were ideal to race as we like it and the crew has done a remarkable job that allows us to fight for the podium tomorrow. Today was divided in two halves: this morning´s races in the Bosphorous were not so good for us, but in the afternoon the team was able to react and to show our potential in the stadium racing. Tomorrow we will have a to keep our heads and advance race after race and not focus on the points of our opponents."
The battle mid-leaderboard is just as tense as that at the top, with GAC Pindar and SAP Extreme Sailing Team from Denmark now tied on points in fifth and sixth respectively. One of two new teams on the circuit - the other is ZouLou - SAP Extreme Sailing Team won their first race of the event here in Istanbul today, much to the elation of their supporters on shore.
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 3, Istanbul, Turkey standings after Day 3, 23 races (09.6.12)
Position / Team / Points
1st Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara 129 points
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan 128 points
3rd Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec 121 points
4th Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson 117 points
5th GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams 91 points
6th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen 91 points
7th Alinghi (SUI), Alain Gautier 82 points
8th ZouLou (FRA) Erik Maris 68 points