Act 7 of the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series global tour is right around the corner, as some of the world’s greatest sailors prepare to descend once again on to the shores of Nice, France, from the 18th-21st October. Four days of racing are planned in the final European Act of the 2012 Series as the eight Extreme 40 teams prepare for what is sure to be a nail bitingly close regatta for the penultimate event of the year, including current Series leader and skipper of The Wave, Muscat, Leigh McMillan.
The Extreme 40 fleet racing in Nice in 2011
In a new addition to his team McMillan will be joined by London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Hannah Mills, who said: 'Cardiff was a great event for me and really fun but it was obviously a real learning curve as it was my first multihull experience. With Leigh currently leading the Series there is more pressure on me for Nice. I wouldn’t want to let them down and I hope to bring some new skills to the team. There is a lot I can learn from Leigh and the team about multihulls which could be useful for my next Olympic campaign.'
Three victories this year may see McMillan top of the leaderboard, but just seven points behind, and breathing down his neck, are two teams tied on points – Oman Air fresh from a win at the previous Act in Cardiff, Wales, and the Austrian squad Red Bull Sailing Team. Oman Air’s skipper and four times America’s Cup sailor Morgan Larson is careful however, not to be overly confident as they head into the business end of the Series.
'Our win in Cardiff gave us a fighting chance going into the final two Acts. We are under no illusion that we are the favorites or that we will win in Nice as in this field any team can win. To have a chance in the final Act, a win in Nice for any of the teams currently in first to fourth positions will be necessary. The Wave, Muscat has a big lead and they are working quite hard to lock themselves into the top position. For us, Red Bull and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild we need points on The Wave, Muscat leaving Nice.'
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild are back to full strength with the return of Hervé Cunningham and Bernard Labro who were both absent from the Cardiff Act, and skipper Pierre Pennec is determined to put their previous results behind them. 'We learnt a lot of lessons from the last two Acts and we need to take these to the heart and erase the results of Porto and Cardiff to cap off the 2012 season. The two training days scheduled before the competition will be very important to get the boat and the crew en route.'
After a busy summer competing in the Alpari World Match Racing Tour Ian Williams, who is currently top of the WMRT rankings, is back in control of the British team GAC Pindar and after a successful debut with the team in Wales, Olympic gold medallist Anna Tunnicliffe from the USA rejoins the team as tactician.
Williams commented: 'I am really looking forward to getting back onto the helm of the Extreme 40 for the Nice regatta. Walshy (Andrew Walsh) did a great job standing in for the last two regattas but having got so close to the podium in China and Cardiff this year I really feel it is just a matter of time. I am very much looking forward to sailing with Rick Peacock and Anna Tunnicliffe for the first time and hope this is the regatta where we can finally crack it.'
Williams is currently leading the second half of the fleet, where the battle is just as close. Only 10 points separate fourth placed GAC Pindar from eighth placed ZouLou which will be named Extreme Ville de Nice as the local team for the French Act, as they head to Act 7, with the Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team and the Swiss Alinghi sandwiched between them.
Taking to the water with the Jaguar NeilPryde Racing Series, the main warm-up act on the water, will be current RS:X World Champion and Olympic silver medallist Julien Bontemps. Spectators can watch 50 of France and Europe’s finest windsurfers on the Extreme 40 racecourse each morning before racing - ensuring the action on the water never stops
Current Series standings after five Acts:
1. The Wave, Muscat (Oman) 48 points
2. Oman Air (Oman) 41 points
3. Red Bull Sailing Team (Austria) 41 points
4. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (France) 36 points
5. GAC Pindar (GBR) 29 points
6. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (Denmark) 24 points
7. Alinghi (Switzerland) 22 points
8. ZouLou (France) 19 points
Extreme Sailing Series website