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2 May 2014, 05:58 pm
Extreme 40 Fleet Battle High Winds In Qingdao
SAP Extreme Sailing Team in action on day 2
SAP Extreme Sailing Team in action on day 2

Extreme Sailing Series - Act 3
Qingdao, China

It was a high pressure day as the fleet moved into the stadium racing mode at the Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series in Qingdao.

The skippers described the day as 'radical', 'full-on', 'unpredictable' and 'gnarly', with gusts up to 32 knots weaving their way through the surrounding skyscrapers. Before racing, Race Management made the call to split the fleet, first into groups of eight, and then groups of four, to minimize the chance of collisions on the tight race track.

The experience of both Alinghi and The Wave, Muscat was evident, and the teams relished the big breeze as much as the light winds on day 1, remaining first and second respectively.

Leigh McMillan, skipper of The Wave, Muscat who is out to defend his title in Qingdao, commented, "We like it when the breeze is up, today was pretty radical. Gusts and big shifts is quite a handful. But we're happy to have made it through the day with no big collisions which is great - it was pretty full on out there."

Acting skipper of Alinghi, Morgan Larson explained how he managed the tricky wind conditions, "At times the boat that would come off the line last would go on to win races. That goes to show that today there was opportunity, whereas yesterday you needed to have a good start and the positioning needed to stay the same.

"Most of the time you have to be aggressive on these boats to do well, if you back off and be conservative that's when trouble seems to happen. So balancing that today was really key and I think we did a good job - we positioned ourselves conservatively but we sailed the boat physically hard, and I think the results show."

Emirates Team New Zealand in the hands of the hottest duo in sailing , skipper Peter Burling and headsail trimmer Blair Tuke, took their first race win of the regatta. They showed their versatility alongside their Kiwi teammates, with their first race win of the Act helping to elevate their overnight position from fifth to third, four points ahead of the Swiss Realteam.

Another team relishing the conditions was the French Groupama sailing team, who after struggling to get near the top half of the fleet during day 1, turned it around with a win in the final race elevating them from seventh to six place.

Groupama skipper Franck Cammas talked team tactics, "Today was difficult. After yesterday's racing we had a debrief; we talk all the time and even after each race we try to talk through and analyse our performance. Sometimes it is hard to go into racing with a big plan as you have to react to the opportunities you are faced with at the time. It's difficult, but our main goal is to be consistent, and then overall I think we will do well."

The Austrian Red Bull Sailing Team were on form winning two races even after a collision with Realteam. Skipper Hagara was pleased with his team's performance, "Today was good (despite the collision). It's really tricky sailing inside the stadium in these conditions, and we know this from past years - we just have to be focused on our skills, we know we have good crew work, our boat handling is good and you just have to make the right decisions. A good start helps, but it's still tricky on the racecourse with the big gusts - we did well in the races and managed to win two so it's great."

Mistakes on the racecourse were punished hard, and misjudging the wind shifts and getting caught in a lull on the track left some teams frustrated. Two-times winner of the Series Paul Campbell-James, helm of Team Russia alongside native skipper Igor Lisovenko, felt that was the case for their team, "We're a little bit frustrated to be honest. We were a bit lackluster in the first race, and we gave away two places in the last run after a stupid manoeuvre. We gave away two spots in the last race and lost two boats by about a metre so we turned what would have been a good day into an average day. We're racing in the middle of a big city, with 90 degree wind shifts and breeze going from 5-25 knots - it's good fun at the end of the day."

Following a night of repairs after a collision on day 1 with GAC Pindar, Oman Air were back on the water and a protest hearing by the International Jury ruled the team will be awarded average points for the eight races they missed at the end of racing on day 3.

Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson 90 points.
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan 76 points.
3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Peter Burling 73 points.
4th Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc 69 points.
5th Team Extreme Qingdao (CHN) Mitch Booth 64 points.
6th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara 63 points.
7th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas 61 points.
8th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen 55 points.
9th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko 55 points.
10th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie 50 points.
11th GAC Pindar (AUS) David Gilmour 34 points.
12th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh 16 points.*
*Team will be awarded average points for the races missed following racing on day 3.

Extreme Sailing Series (As Amended by ISAF)
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