'Extreme' 'on the edge' and 'intense' was how the fleet of elite Extreme 40 sailors described an action packed opening day of racing at the Extreme Sailing Series?, Act 7 Nice presented by Land Rover.
20 knots of breeze with gusts of 25 knots and rolling two metre seas saw the eight Extreme 40s hurtle around the Bay of Angels with hulls soaring, bows diving and water spraying. The big breeze suited Leigh McMillan's Omani team The Wave, Muscat who came out in empathetic style, winning four of the eight races to stamp an early authority on the Nice leaderboard. But everyone's eyes were on the Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team today, who skilfully managed to bring their Extreme 40 back from the brink of a pitch pole, but suffered race-ending damage in the process.
In the third race of the day, SAP Extreme Sailing chose to "push it a bit harder" in the words of British mainsail trimmer Pete Cumming… but they pushed it a little too far. Whilst screaming downwind at 25knots, the bows dug in and their Extreme 40 stopped in its tracks elevating both rudders fully out of the water. The team did well to recover but the impact snapped the front of their bowsprit which ultimately forced them to retire from the following two races, as co-skipper Rasmus Kostner elaborated, "We started really well today and were leading that third race before we nose dived. After we snapped the bowsprit there was nothing we could do. We managed to finish the race, but after we made the repairs just couldn't find the rhythm again."
The Danish team returned to the racetrack for race seven, but suffered further problems with their mainsail, heartbreakingly forcing them to miss the final race of the day and leaving them trailing in seventh place on the leaderboard.
The Danish were not the only team for who the French Riviera proved punishing today. GAC Pindar, who have not sailed together in the Series as a unit since Porto while the team has been competing at the Red Bull Youth America's Cup, lost their port rudder while lining up to start race seven after losing their holding pin, which unfortunately for the team of young Kiwis, meant game over for the day forcing them to limp back to the dock.
The Swiss teams Alinghi and Realteam both came out of the blocks quickly today, securing two race wins apiece. But while Morgan Larson and the team on Alinghi managed to maintain their form throughout and pushed The Wave, Muscat to finish the open water day in second, Jérome Clerc's team seemed to lose their edge in the days final races. Their blistering start to the day was enough to put the team in third place heading into tomorrow's stadium.
Jean-Christophe Mourniac showed he has lost none of his Extreme 40 prowess returning to the Series at the helm of invitational entry the first club ALL4ONE, expertly steering his vessel around the course to secure a string of top three finishes. "We are very happy with our results. In conditions like these it's really difficult to get the communication right onboard, but for our first day of racing, we're really pleased with how it went. The fleet is really good this year, we will just have to do the same tomorrow, and just try and progress over the weekend,"
Another new outfit to the Series who impressed today in what is only their second Act as a team, was ChinaSpirit. Phil Robertson and his team upped the ante, after what was a baptism of fire at the UK Act just six weeks ago mixing it up at the front end of the fleet, to finish the day an impressive fourth - despite a narrowly avoiding a nose dive which had everyone on the edge of their seats. "We had a great day today, we're really happy with our speed around the course and the guys did a really good job of keeping the boat upright in these conditions. We had one hairy moment on the first race but that was a lot fun."
Tomorrow (Friday 4 October), the Extreme 40 fleet will go into Stadium mode, racing just metres from the shore on the Promenade des Anglais from 14@00
CEST as part of Act 7 Nice presented by Land Rover. The teams are bracing themselves for another action packed day, with 25 knots on the forecast. Watch the action LIVE from 16:00CEST to watch all the hull flying racing as it happens, www.extremesailingseries.com
Extreme Sailing Series 2013 Act 7, Nice presented by Land Rover standings after Day 1, 8 races (3.10.13)
Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Ed Smyth, Pete Greenhalgh, Musab Al Hadi, Hashim Al Rashdi 71 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 61 points.
3rd Realteam (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Pierre Pennec, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wassem 58 points.
4th ChinaSpirit (CHN) Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Llang Wu, Louis Viat, Nick Catley 54 points.
5th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Matthew Adams, Simon Cooke, Kinley Fowler 54 points.
6th the first club by ALL4ONE (FRA) Jean-Christophe Mourniac, Romain Petit, Stéphane Christidis, Arnaud Jarlegan, Julien Cressant 45 points.
7th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Pete Cumming, Mikkel Røssberg, Nicolai Sehested 31 points.
8th GAC Pindar (NZL) Will Tiller, Matt Steven, Harry Thurston, Brad Farrand, Shaun Mason 26 points.