The last showdown for the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series is now underway in Rio de Janeiro amid the gaze of the world famous statue of Christ the Redeemer on a race course that is rapidly earning itself a reputation as one of the most beautiful that the Extreme 40s have ever raced on. Alinghi were the undisputed stars of the show today and two race wins for the Swiss America’s Cup winners sees them top of the leaderboard at the end of day one and in a podium position for the first time this year.
Iconic statue, Christ the Redeemer, watches over as the fleet of Extreme 40s fly off the start line. - 2012 Extreme Sailing Series - Act 8 Rio
Six races were sailed in glamour sailing conditions – 12 knots of breeze with gusts of 15, and a brilliant Brazilian sunshine. A reaching start saw the teams power off the line for a short sprint to the first mark providing the spectators on the cable cars at the top of Sugar Loaf mountain with a real spectacle. Pierre-Yves Jorand the man in charge of Alinghi in Rio commented on their performance. 'We had a good day the first day and were lucky enough to make some big gains in races two and three at the top mark which worked in our favour. We tried to take it easier and sail a smart way - not complicate things, take an easy approach and at the end it paid off'.
The fleet of Extreme 40s sails in front of iconic Sugarloaf mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 2012 Extreme Sailing Series - Act 8 Rio
It wasn’t all plain sailing today and there was a damage delay after almost every race – the worst of which came after a collision in race five at the first mark between Oman Air and Red Bull Sailing Team with the Austrians careering into the back of the Omani team as they fought for space. Down but not out, both teams made quick fixes on the water to complete the final race of the day (Oman Air to their stern, Red Bull Sailing Team to their bow), but it was not the start either team were hoping for with the Series podium beckoning.
Tonight will be a long night of crucial repairs for the shore teams as a despondent Larson explain: 'It's the third transom repair for Oman Air this year (Alinghi clipped it in training one time, The Wave, Muscat's in Nice), but this is probably the worst. These guys (shore crew) are experienced at this and by two or three in the morning they will have it done. Tomorrow is another day - chin up, keep going. We are still in the hunt.' Both teams will be given a time penalty at the start of tomorrow’s first race for failing to avoid the collision.
Oman Air leads the fleet downwind crossing in front of iconic Sugarloaf mountain in Rio - 2012 Extreme Sailing Series - Act 8 Rio
The teams are understandably looking ahead to Sunday night when the 2012 Series champion will be crowned. Current Series leader Leigh McMillan on The Wave, Muscat is sitting pretty in second place, while surprisingly none of his biggest rivals have managed a top three position after day one. But as we have seen today, the leaderboard could take on a very different shape tomorrow which McMillan is all too aware of: 'Today was a solid start. We didn’t get off the line well but had good recovery which has been our saving grace this season. So we are in a good position but the main rivals will be back and we will be looking out for them tomorrow.'
SAP Extreme Sailing Team, who yesterday officially announced a three year technology partnership with the Series, finished the day on a high with two consecutive race wins, including a spectacular win in race five which saw them finish 400metres ahead of the rest of the fleet on the 4,000 metre course. Co-Skipper Jes Gram-Hansen said after racing: 'We had a tough start to the day and found ourselves sailing into trouble on the downwind leg. Every race is a new race, and in the end we pulled it together and are really happy with the wins and hope to stay in contention for the podium. It was about getting clean air today and we were lucky to get a break, all the teams struggled at times in the tough conditions.'
SAP Extreme Sailing Team's crew put their weight into hoisting their gennaker around a mark. - 2012 Extreme Sailing Series - Act 8 Rio
Brazilian national Olympic legend Torben Grael made his Extreme 40 debut today as the man in charge of wildcard entry Team Brasil and showed his medal winning pedigree leading his team to a second place finish in race four – no mean feat against a fleet that has been locked in irons against each other over the last 11 months of global touring. Erik Maris and his French team ZouLou had their strongest day of the Series, finishing the day in third place, joining Alinghi in a podium position for the first time this year.
Tomorrow will see racing start at 1700 CET (1400 local time.
Brazilian Olympic sailing legend, Torben Grael, on the helm of local boat, Team Brasil - 2012 Extreme Sailing Series - Act 8 Rio
Skipper of Team Brasil, Torben Grael, shares a laugh with some of the other Extreme 40 skippers at the official event press conference. - 2012 Extreme Sailing Series - Act 8 Rio
Alinghi's crew are on top form sailing the boat to the top of the leaderboard on day 1 in Rio - 2012 Extreme Sailing Series - Act 8 Rio
Oman Air is craned out for over-night repairs after a collision with Red Bull Sailing Team on day 1 in Rio - 2012 Extreme Sailing Series - Act 8 Rio
Extreme Sailing Series
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 8, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil standings after day one, six races (06.12.12):
Position / Team / Points
1. Alinghi (SUI), Pierre-Yves Jorand, Jean-Christophe Mourniac, Bruno Barbarin, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 38 points
2. The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Leigh McMillan, Ed Smyth, Pete Greenhalgh, Hannah Mills, Hashim Al Rashdi 38 points
3. ZouLou (FRA), Erik Maris, Philip Mourniac, Jean-Sébastien Ponce, Patrick Aucour, Bruno Jeanjean 35 points
4. Oman Air (OMA), Morgan Larson, Will Howden, Charlie Ogletree, Andy Maloney, Nasser Al Mashari 31 points
5. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT), Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Matthew Adams, Pierre Le Clainche, Graeme Spence 31 points
6. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN), Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Pete Cumming, Mikkel Røssberg, Jonas Hviid 30 points
7. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Hervé Cunningham, Romain Petit, Bernard Labro 29 points
8. Team Brasil (BRA), Torben Grael, Alex Welter, Diogo Cayolla, André Mirsky, Marco Grael 19 points
9. GAC Pindar (GBR), Andrew Walsh, Anna Tunnicliffe, Mark Bulkeley, Adam Piggot, Richard Peacock 19 points
Extreme Sailing Series website