After sailing a near faultless regatta, The Wave, Muscat were crowned champions of the Extreme Sailing Series Act 7 Nice, presented by Land Rover.
The team, representing the Sultanate of Oman, has led the Act since the first race and haven't looked back since. "To come out the back of four days racing unscathed is pretty rare. We were able to put in a consistent performance and we try to keep it fun at the same time. It has been a great event, we pushed it and sailed extremely well,"
enthused the team's jubilant skipper Leigh McMillan. Attentions are already shifting to the Series finale in Florianopolis, which significantly is worth double points. Mathematically five teams are still in the running for a podium position, and just two points separate the favourites The Wave, Muscat and Alinghi at the top of the leaderboard. "It all starts again at each Act and Brazil will be a different game. Alinghi will keep pushing us hard, you cannot pin them down. We tried, it doesn't work."
McMillan and his crew of Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth, Musab Al Hadi and Hashim Al Rashdi had an unassailable lead going into the all important double points final race, but the battle for second was raging behind them. The Austrian Olympic champions on Red Bull Sailing Team had a one point advantage over the America's Cup winners on Alinghi and the maths were simple; who ever did better would get second place. The Swiss and Austrians marked each other around the track, and ultimately a fourth place for Alinghi was enough for them to overhaul Red Bull Sailing Team, as helm Morgan Larson explained, "We were behind so we didn't feel like we had anything to lose, but we had everything to gain. It was all on. The Wave, Muscat were doing everything they could to make sure that Red Bull beat us, and also Realteam. So there was a lot happening and a lot of other races amongst that race, it was really exciting."
Despite having second place snatched from his grasp, Roman Hagara was satisfied with the team's performance, "The goal was to be on podium and we made it. It was close but a perfect end for us. We fought hard but it wasn't easy today so we are really pleased with the results."
Waiting patiently in the wings to pounce was Realteam, but despite winning the final double points race, it wasn't quite enough for the Swiss lake specialists, who narrowly missed out on third place by just three points.
ChinaSpirit came flawlessly out of the blocks today, picking up where they left off yesterday with a race win. The unit, who only came together a few weeks ago at the UK round in Cardiff, have quickly adapted to Stadium Racing and are already making a mark on the fleet finishing Act 7 Nice fifth.
Few of the teams have been able to pull together a consistent set of results this week which unfortunately was the story of the Danes on SAP Extreme Sailing. After expertly averting a pitchpole on the first day, the Danish-flagged team missed out on vital points to make repairs before returning to the fleet, where they found themselves embroiled in mid-fleet battles for most of the Act and ultimately have to settle for sixth.
The invitational team the first club by ALL4ONE and supported by Land Rover had the support of the local crowds and were impressive from the first start gun, holding their own against the more experienced fleet with a string of finishes in the top half of the fleet. "It was a very good day for us. We were up there with the top end of the fleet at times! It was incredible to race in front of our home crowds in Nice, especially with two crew members from here - it was just a fantastic place for us to sail! We hope to come back next year, especially for the whole circuit,"
skipper Jean-Christophe Mourniac.
Nice is not an Act the sailors will easily forget having thrown everything at the fleet this week - from 25 knots and two metre swell that at time times saw the Extreme 40s battle the elements to keep their 40ft catamarans upright, to the placid gentle breeze that played across the Bay of Angels over the weekend which saw the 29th and final race played out in 10 knots.
Next stop on the global tour is Florianopolis, Brazil 14-17 November - an unknown Host Venue for the fleet where four days of racing and over 30 races will decide the 2013 champion. Five teams - The Wave, Muscat, Alinghi, Red Bull Sailing Team, SAP Extreme Sailing Team and Realteam - are all in contention for a podium position, and only one thing is for sure; it is going to go down to the wire.
Extreme Sailing Series 2013 Act 7, Nice presented by Land Rover standings after Day 4, 29 races (6.10.13)
Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan 237 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson 217 points.
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara 216 points.
4th Realteam (SUI) Jérôme Clerc 213 points.
5th ChinaSpirit (CHN) Phil Robertson 183 points.
6th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen 175 points.
7th the first club by ALL4ONE (FRA) Jean-Christophe Mourniac 170 points.
8th GAC Pindar (NZL) Will Tiller 130 points.
Extreme Sailing Series 2013 overall standings after Act 7, Nice presented by Land Rover
Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 56 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) 54 points.
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 45 points.
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 41 points.
5th Realteam (SUI) 35 points.
6th GAC Pindar (NZL) 30 points.
7th Team X Invitational 26 points.
8th Team Korea (KOR) 16 points.