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1 May 2014, 04:16 pm
Testing Light Winds In Qingdao On Day One
The Extreme 40s in Qingdao, China
The Extreme 40s in Qingdao, China

Extreme Sailing Series - Act 3
Qingdao, China

Racing began in China's Olympic sailing city at the Land Rover, Extreme Sailing Series Act 3 Qingdao, for the 'Double Star Mingren' Cup.

Five different race winners emerged from the eight races sailed, in a day that saw the fleet struggle for consistency and the leaderboard reshuffle after every race. On the open water racecourse, the Swiss team Alinghi dominated in the testing light winds and strong tide, edging ahead at the end of day.

The local boat, Team Extreme Qingdao had an outstanding debut performance. The team is being led by co-skippers Mitch Booth and Yiran Zhang this week, and on day 1 the duo certainly had the golden touch. The team posted a string of consistent results, keeping a cool head under the pressure.

Team Extreme Qingdao finished the day in third place just three points behind; The Wave, Muscat. A thrilled Booth commented, "It was a great day for us. We started really well, and our objective was to try and keep clear of everybody else, and not get into the traffic or into any situations that would put pressure on the guys. I think that strategy worked pretty well. We started well, had some clean lanes and overall, it was a great day of racing."

The Swiss light wind lake specialists Realteam, were also impressive, showing a return to the form they demonstrated at Act 1 Singapore, and finished the day tied on points with Team Extreme Qingdao. Skipper Jerome Clerc commented, "We are really happy with today. The crew did a great job and our performance was better than in Oman where we struggled at the beginning - and now we're in the game from the start. I think the crew are on fire."

After damaging their forestay in the first race of the day, and making a 'quick fix' on the water, the Austrian Red Bull Sailing Team did well to continue putting points on the leaderboard, and a win in race six helped them on their way to sixth place overall.

Their double Olympic gold medal winning skipper, Roman Hagara, commented, "It's a tough game, you have to be right on the spot at the start and if not, it's really hard to fight in amongst the fleet. In the last two races we didn't manage to get good starts, which hurt. It was really good to get our first race win today - it's much easier to sail at the front of the fleet - it was the perfect race for us."

The Austrian team are five points behind Emirates Team New Zealand, and one point ahead of the French Groupama sailing team. Groupama posted a mixed bag of results that included two second places but also three finishes in the bottom three. The Russian team are a further one point behind Groupama sailing team in eighth place.

By anyone's standards, two race wins on the Extreme 40 racecourse is no mean feat, but even that wasn't enough for SAP Extreme Sailing Team to make it into the top half of the fleet today settling for ninth place overall. Rasmus Koster explained what they need to change tomorrow, "We're not too surprised to see that we are in ninth position. More or less anybody can win a race, but you need to be consistent. We didn't achieve that today, we struggled at times to get off the line, but when we could, we posted some good results - it's difficult as everybody is doing well out there.

Koster continued, "We're not happy with ninth, but we are with the two race wins, so we will review the analytics and see what we can do tomorrow in stadium racing."

J.P. Morgan BAR struggled on the Olympic waters, their skipper Ben Ainslie and crew; Paul Goodison and Pippa Wilson didn't do so well finishing the day in tenth place, as did GAC Pindar who struggled to compose themselves after their race one collision.

Unfortunately for Oman Air, their day was over before it had a chance to begin, a collision with GAC Pindar during a start line tussle in the first race left the team with severe damage to their port hull, forcing them back to the pit lane. Rob Greenhalgh, skipper of Oman Air explained what happened, "Just after the start of the first race, GAC Pindar tacked onto port and misjudged the dip on us and T-boned us pretty hard - we have a pretty big hole in the side of the boat.

"These things happen unfortunately. The shore guys will work hard tonight and get the boat ready for racing tomorrow. We will lick our wounds and be back. It's a disappointment - we were pumped to race."

Oman Air will be given a redress and will likely be awarded average points from the rest of the races by the international jury.

With plenty of races still to come, the teams will be assessing their performance on the water and planning their moves as Act 3 goes into stadium racing on day 2. American Morgan Larson from Alinghi is already looking forward, "It will be different on day 2. With more wind there could be potential for more collisions and more action. We will aim to stay out of trouble and focus on not getting into any wrecks, but in this field you have to push a little harder at the same time."

Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson 64 points.
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan 50 points.
3rd Team Extreme Qingdao (CHN) Mitch Booth 47 points.
4th Realteam (SUI) Jérôme Clerc 47 points.
5th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 45 points.
6th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara 40 points.
7th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas 39 points.
8th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko 37 points.
9th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen 33 points.
10th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie 29 points.
11th GAC Pindar (AUS) David Gilmour 17 points.
12th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh 0 points.

Extreme Sailing Series (As Amended by ISAF)
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