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4 May 2014, 09:30 pm
Alinghi Win In Qingdao Despite A Huge Crash With Red Bull Sailing Team
Crash between Alinghi and Red Bull Sailing Team
Crash between Alinghi and Red Bull Sailing Team

Extreme Sailing Series - Act 3
Qingdao, China

On the final days racing at the in Qingdao the Olympic sailing city lived up to its reputation as a notorious and unpredictable racecourse.

Even one of the biggest crashes in the Series' eight-year history, couldn't stop Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Nils Frei, Pierre-Yves Jorand and Yves Detrey, who took victory despite watching the final races from the dock.

The international jury awarded the Swiss boat a redress, to helmsman Larson's relief, "We were lining up at the start, and approaching the line with ten seconds to go and most of the fleet was on port. Red Bull ducked behind us, the winds were shifty and up and down, there was too much of a puff and they couldn't get the bear away and T-boned us - it happens.

"It's great to have won, we had such a great regatta that it was bittersweet to end that way, but I think we earned it so it feels good. We're just glad that no one was hurt and that the boat is repairable - it will take a week in a good boat yard, but it will be back and ready to race."

Realteam have been the model of consistency this week finishing in second overall. Their skipper Jérome Clerc was beaming with confidence after racing, "It's a great result - it's our best result since starting in the Extreme Sailing Series. The team was strong from the beginning of the event and we finished very well in these crazy conditions!"

Clerc continued, "We sailed the boat well, had good boat handling, good starts and we finished well. We have some stuff to improve on, we need to look to beat Alinghi who have taken the lead over everybody, and we want to reach the podium again."

The young guns on Emirates Team New Zealand have kept in touch with the top of the leaderboard all week, kept a cool head today to hold off the defending Series champions The Wave, Muscat to take third place.

Burling commented: "We're pretty stoked to get on the podium. I think going into today there was a bit of a battle between three of us to get into second position, and I suppose there's a little disappointment that we couldn't get there. Coming into the start of the week we would have been pretty happy getting a third, so as the week goes on you seem to up your expectations - but overall we're really happy to come away with a podium and keep in contact with the top guys on the overall Series rankings."

By most teams standards, a fourth place in a fleet of this calibre would be cause for celebration, but Leigh McMillan and The Wave, Muscat were left feeling despondent after missing out on the podium by just one point - the first time since Singapore in 2013. The pressure is now on McMillan when the fleet head to Russia, with Alinghi now two points ahead on the overall Series leaderboard.

Gazprom Team Russia have been steadily improving as the Act progressed, and today mastered the challenging conditions and bigger gusts with ease, enabling them to pick up another place on the leaderboard to finish in fifth place.

British helmsman Paul Campbell-James commented, "We took opportunities when they arose and we are still banging in second and thirds so it gives us confidence moving forward. It's a nice position to be in and with Russia being the next event, being the home team it will be very exciting, and hopefully it won't take us three days to warm up! Bring on Saint Petersburg."

The battle mid-leaderboard was fierce, with Oman Air finishing in sixth place, despite missing the first day's racing after a collision with GAC Pindar. In recognition of their effort get the boat back on the water, and their expertise in boat building, the Oman Air Shore Team became the first recipients of the Land Rover Above and Beyond Award this week, demonstrating a fine example of skill and sportsmanship.

Today Ben Ainslie and his crew showed the gold medal winning form that they have struggled to find this week. With two race wins for the British team they finished in seventh overall. Looking back on the week, and ahead to the rest of the season, Ainslie commented, "Every day there has been a completely new set of conditions to race in, the wind was always slightly different which made it a real challenge for all the teams. It is intense racing with the short races and courses and we are working together to master the style of racing."

Ainslie continued, "Overall this event we had some good days and some not so good days, today was obviously a really good day for us. We feel like we are slowly making gains and moving forward, which is what we want to do to be in the top half of the fleet at the end of the season."

Franck Cammas showed great form at the first two Acts of the Series in Singapore and Oman, but couldn't replicate that this week in Qingdao, finishing the regatta in eighth place. It was a tough end to the Act for the Austrians on Red Bull Sailing Team too, and after knocking themselves out of racing following today's collision, the team had to settle for ninth place.

SAP Extreme Sailing Team also struggled to master the tricky and challenging Qingdao racecourse this week, finishing the Act one point behind the Austrians in tenth place. David Gilmour the young Aussie team on GAC Pindar had a baptism of fire in their first full event racing together as a team.

The local boat Team Extreme Qingdao drew in the home crowds and impressed them particularly on the opening day. Skipper Mitch Booth was pleased with his team's performance, "The crew did a really great job considering we had limited training together. They were really mixing it up until the end, so we're pretty happy with our result although we were in the middle of the fleet for most of the regatta, we finished down the back end - but still not out of reach. So all in all we're very pleased with guys performance this week."

Over four days Qingdao has thrown everything at the fleet, and is not an Act that will easily be forgotten. Next stop for the fleet is Saint Petersburg in Russia, where the season will reach its halfway points, 26-29 June.

Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series Act 3 Qingdao, for the 'Double Star Mingren' Cup standings after Day 4, 32 races
Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson 178 points
2nd Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc 168 points
3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Peter Burling 160 points
4th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan 159 points
5th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko 140 points
6th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh 133 points
7th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie 129 points
8th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas 128 points
9th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara 126 points
10th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen 125 points
11th Team Extreme Qingdao (CHN) Mitch Booth 111 points
12th GAC Pindar (AUS) David Gilmour 98 points

Extreme Sailing Series (As Amended by ISAF)
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