The French and Italian teams are locked in a furious battle for the 2011 overall championship, and today the Italians' game plan was on track giving Luna Rossa the advantage. "At the moment it's working well but there are still too many races to go," said Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena. "We are happy to be in front and we just have to do the same in the next three days. It was really hard today, really shifty and I'm really happy because normally in these conditions we struggle a little bit but today we managed to sail well."
But no one is underestimating the French team's ability, as Pennec's team has shown in the past with their backs against the wall, they can quickly rally and turn the tables on their adversary. Although the conditions today on Marina Bay were difficult for all the teams, Roman Hagara's Red Bull Sailing Team has managed to retain the top spot on the Singapore leaderboard.
As Act 9 of the Extreme Sailing Series reaches the halfway stage, the event opens to the public delivering more on-water action with Moth demo sailing and kids Optimist racing; then over the weekend the NeilPryde Racing Series will run alongside the Extreme 40 racing with 20 of Singapore's top windsurfers.
Red Bull Sailing Team's tactician Hans Peter Steinacher, current leaders of Act 9, described the conditions today, "Today was really hard, the wind was changing all the time - down, up, down, up," said. "Twice we started too early and one time we managed to get back to 6th but this happens. In the third race they said we were 20cms over - who can see 20cms?! Sometimes you have bad luck but you have to say 'okay, we're still in touch with the leaders and at the moment we are still at the front' but it is not easy."
Only four races were staged on the second day of Act 9 as the local conditions tested the skills of the race management and the patience of the sailors. "Well, wind all over the place sums it up," said Race Director, Phil Lawrence. "When we first went out there the breeze was just coming out of the thunderclouds and going round in circles so we had to wait before we could lay a course and get racing underway. We then had a good 6-8 knots of breeze out of the SE and managed to get some good races in. Then the thunderclouds really started to build again over the city and as the clouds got close the wind did a complete 360. We were going round and round trying to lay a course that would be fair for the guys. It was just that kind of day."
Dean Barker though will be happier with Emirates Team New Zealand's performance today, posting a win in the second race of the day, to leave them in second place on the leaderboard and Swiss team Alinghi climbed two places up the rankings to end the day in sixth place. Oman Air also had a better than average day and newly-appointed skipper, Chris Draper, was pleased with their performance which puts them in fourth place, "Our goal today was to finish in the top five of every race which we did," said Draper. "We proved to ourselves yesterday we could be in the mix and we just need to learn from each day, keep that momentum and it will come good."
The new crew on the block on Team Extreme - the first club™ were happy to win the final race but as skipper Sébastien Col explained the team is very much on a learning mission, "In the last race we rounded the first mark in front, just in front of The Wave, Muscat and ETNZ, and we managed to hold on to the end. It's all in the starts in this Series so we have to improve on that and be more consistent."
Extreme Sailing Series Act 9 Final, Singapore standings after 9 races (8.12.11)
Position / Team / Points
1. Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) Roman Hagara 64 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker 62 points
3. Luna Rossa (ITA) Max Sirena 61 points
4. Oman Air (OMA) Chris Draper 55 points
5. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec 52 points
6. Alinghi (SUI) Tanguy Cariou 51 points
7. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan 46 points
8. Team GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams 43 points
9. Team Extreme - the first club™ (FRA) Sébastien Col 34 points
10. Team TILT (SUI), Alex Schneiter 27 points