The fleet of 11 elite level teams used all of their tactical prowess to manoeuvre their Extreme 40s around the course with the Swiss Alinghi taking the lead after day two.
It may not have been high-speed racing on the second day of the Extreme Sailing Series in Muscat, Oman, but it was as close as it gets, with the leaderboard reshuffling after every race. Alinghi handled the light wind stadium with equal skill as the first days open water racing, where the reaching starts determined the finishes, and mistakes were punished hard.
The Swiss team's tactician, Olympic champion and 2011 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Anna Tunnicliffe summed up the day, "Today the starts were quite important, occasionally you could come back from a bad start, but coming off the start line in the top three was huge.
"Our game plan is to keep it simple and not get involved in any awkward situations. The conditions are so tricky out there; you just have to take each race as it comes, analysing it and generally just stick to our plan."
Nine of the 11-boat fleet were given an OCS throughout the day pushing their Extreme 40s hard to the start line, Emirates Team New Zealand kept their noses clean with two race wins and finished the day in third overall.
Dean Barker, the Kiwi skipper, analysed their performance, "I think you always come off the water knowing a lot of the areas you can improve, but I generally think it's working out how you can improve your averages across the day. You come off the water feeling pretty battered and bruised to be honest.
"It's brutal sailing here - you try your best to be consistent but all you need is to have a tough race or a tough break somewhere and it catches up. Overall we're pretty pleased with how we've been doing 90% of the time; it's just getting a little bit more consistent."
The defending champions The Wave, Muscat had their pre-start routine near-perfected from the first of the days six races, starting the day with a win and rarely finishing out of the top three. They started the day in fifth and moved up the leaderboard to second place, three points behind Alinghi.
The Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team led the fleet overnight, but unfortunately finished the day in fourth, just five points behind Emirates Team New Zealand. Franck Cammas' Groupama sailing team are a further 11 points behind the Danish, with everything to play for over the coming days.
J.P. Morgan BAR, claimed three-second place finishes which moves them up from eighth to sixth place, as the British squad started to really get to grips with the stadium racecourse. The team's headsail trimmer Pippa Wilson was positive after racing, "It was a good day for us today. We had some really good starts, and then some really bad ones, but overall a really good and positive day for us. We worked well together as a team and it was really nice for us to be at the front of the fleet."
The middle of the leaderboard is incredibly close with Red Bull Sailing Team, Oman Air and Realteam all within three points of each other. The Swiss Realteam sailed the light winds well and took a win in the fifth race of the day, elevating them from tenth to ninth place.
"It was great today, we sailed well. I think we like this style of racing in the stadium with lighter winds. We had some good starts and good pace at times. We tried to sail a simple game, finding wind on the right hand side of the course. Overall I'm really happy with today"
, commented skipper Jérôme Clerc.
Gazprom Team Russia also took their best result of the event with a second place, as did the Aussie team on GAC Pindar, who were continually improving throughout the day.
"It's a really big learning curve for us at the moment, we're enjoying it. It's like we're on this vertical learning spike, which is great,"
commented the Aussie skipper Seve Jarvin.
"We just want to keep improving, and today we just seemed to get better and better. We learnt a lot and there's a lot of stuff we found out about these boats just from today's racing which helped us a lot. So hopefully tomorrow we can just keep getting better!"
The penultimate day's racing in Muscat begins at 14:00 local time, and the racing will be broadcast to sports fans around the world live from 15:30 local time/12:30CET.
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2014 Act 2, Muscat standings after Day 2, 13 races (20.03.14)
Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, 88 points.
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, 85 points.
3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker, 82 points.
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, 77 points.
5th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, 66 points.
6th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, 63 points.
7th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, 60 points.
8th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, 59 points.
9th Realteam (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, 58 points.
10th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, 57 points.
11th GAC Pindar (AUS) Seve Jarvin, 33 points