Roman Hagara and his Austrian Red Bull Sailing Team continued the impressive form they showed at Act 2 Qingdao on the opening day of the Extreme Sailing Series in Istanbul, finishing the opening day in pole position.
The iconic Turkish city kept the sailors on their toes, with the wind ranging from 2 knots to 13 knots as the eight strong fleet began their battle for supremacy at Act 3.
Light winds dominated the opening races in Istanbul, dying away to just 2 knots by the end of race three. The teams waited patiently in the scorching sunshine for more breeze and their perseverance paid dividends as the breeze kicked in picking up to 13 knots and a further three races were staged.
Roman Hagara's crew, that includes two Austrians, an Englishman, Frenchman and an Australian which makes for interesting communication challenges, look like they are getting used to podium positions after finishing Act 2 in second place. During the opening day they finished four out of six races in a top-three position, enough to give them a five point cushion over The Wave, Muscat at the top of the leaderboard. "The wind picked up and in the end it was really good racing - I mean the best racing we had so far. It was really good communication onboard. Things are coming together on the boat, the crew is making jokes and everybody is laughing. All the team is happy and there were a lot of smiles today,"
The all-French team on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and the all-British team on GAC Pindar challenged at the front of the fleet a couple of times with the latter managing to secure a win in race three. But both teams found themselves buried in the middle of the fleet all too frequently, and finished the day in third and fourth respectively. GAC Pindar's trimmer Mark Bulkeley summed up the team's day, "It was a day of two halves for us. We went well in the light wind races and struggled when the breeze built. I think we have to think about our set up for the windier races and how we transition between the two conditions."
Act 1 winner Morgan Larson and his team on Oman Air looked like the odds were in their favour as racing began, as Larson led his team to two consecutive race wins. But the team's dominance on the leaderboard was short-lived and they finish the day in fifth. In contrast, the new team on the circuit, SAP Extreme Sailing Team co-skippered by America's Cup compatriots Jes Gram-Hansen and Rasmus Kostner looked to be finding their feet amongst the fleet today, sailing consistently to leave them just one point behind Oman Air in sixth place.
Perhaps the most impressive performance of the day came from Alinghi, under the guidance of offshore sailing legend and Vendée Globe winner Alain Gautier in his Extreme 40 debut. Historically new skippers to the Series don't find it easy to match the pace of the more seasoned Extreme 40 sailors, and it looked like this would be the case for Gautier who struggled to get out of the blocks in the first two races. However by race three they had turned things around and went on to secure three podium finishes by the end of racing, leaving them very much in the mix just one point behind SAP Extreme Sailing Team at the end of day one. "The level of the fleet around us is very high, it´s tough and we are learning at each race. In this kind of racing you have to be patient and to avoid contact,"
commented Gauter. "We need to progress slowly but surely. We know we can race well and the key is to try to stay closet to the leader."
Tomorrow Act 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series opens to the public of Istanbul as the racing moves closer to shore in 'stadium' mode and tighter race courses. The live video streaming including running commentary goes live online from 14:00CET.
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 3, Istanbul, Turkey standings after Day 1, 6 races (07.6.12)
Position / Team / Points
1. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara 40 points
2. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan 35 points
3. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec 28 points
4. GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams 26 points
5. Oman Air (OMA) Morgan 25 points
6. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen 24 points
7. Alinghi (SUI), Alain Gautier 23 points
8. ZouLou (FRA) Erik 15 points