Extreme Sailing Series Act 4 - Porto opens in spectacular fashion

The Extreme 40 fleet races downwind during offshore racing on day 1 in Porto
Act 4 of the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series got underway in Porto today in outstanding fashion with big sea swells and strong winds creating some electrifying racing. The new faces on the circuit, Fred Le Peutrec and Andrew Walsh, showed they can mix it up with the more experienced skippers with both men leading their teams to race wins, but ultimately it was Leigh McMillan who came out on top, alongside a familiar top three at the end of day one including Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and Red Bull Sailing Team, in what McMillan predicted after racing 'Will be the toughest event so far this year'.

Seven races were sailed in the open water racing in tricky conditions with the forecasted sea breeze building throughout the day to reach a peak of 17 knots. The eight Extreme 40s had to face three metres of rolling Atlantic swell and at times it looked like it wouldn’t have taken much to trip them up.

Leigh McMillan and his team on The Wave, Muscat must surely be becoming accustomed to podium positions having won the previous two Acts in Qingdao and Istanbul, and two race wins today was enough for them to finish day one in pole position. But as McMillan explained, in this game nothing is a certainty.

2013 Byte CII World Championship day 4

'We have had a good start but we need to not get carried away with today’s results. We have won two events on the trot and it is becoming harder and harder to do that every time. We have lot of races still to go in Porto including offshore racing and racing in this very small confined harbour here in Porto, so it is going to be very exciting but there are a lot of challenges. I think we can expect lots of action.' Close behind McMillan is the French team Groupe Edmond de Rothschild in second place.

The British team GAC Pindar, and in particular their skipper Andrew Walsh, made everyone and sit up and take note from the off today, posting an impressive win in the opening race of the day in what was Walsh’s first day in charge of an Extreme 40 since he was skipper of BT in 2009. The British team finish the day in a respectable fourth place, tied on points with third placed Red Bull Sailing Team. A humble but clearly determined Walsh said after racing: 'It has been a good day for us. It is a lot like riding a bike, you remember some of it but I feel very rusty on some of the manoeuvres and I was making mistakes. We have a great team and hopefully I can do a good job for them. This boat is ready for the podium.'

GAC Pindar sails through some rolling swells on day 1 of Act 4 in Porto - Extreme Sailing Series 2012

Another new skipper in Porto, ZouLou’s Fred Le Peutrec – one of the most experienced multihull skippers in the world and current holder of the Jules Verne Round the World trophy – got to grips with the Extreme 40 quickly, posting wins in races two and three. But the French team ultimately lost out to the consistency of the more experienced skippers leaving Le Peutrec to settle for seventh, as Le Peutrec explained:

'The team is really experienced and I am confident with them onboard. That is why we won two races today. It's a big fight out there especially after my experience this winter sailing around the world which is a very different discipline. When you are fighting with other teams around the marks and in a small place like this there is a lot of adrenaline. I like it.'

ZouLou punches out during racing on day 1 in Porto - Extreme Sailing Series 2012

The official Act 4 press conference took place today with over 30 local, international, regional and local media in attendance, with more expected to attend the event over the remaining days including national Portuguese TV station RTP, who will broadcast the stadium racing live from the race village on Saturday and Sunday. During the press conference the hot topic was how difficult it would be to post a steady scoreline in this week’s racing as Oman Air’s skipper Morgan Larson said during the conference:

'I think racing is going to be similar to the Formula 1 in Monaco - lots of bumping and weaving and it will be difficult to make gains so racing is going to be tight. We will probably see a few close calls out there.' Larson’s Omani team finishes the day in sixth place, two points behind the Swiss-flagged Alinghi.

2013 Byte CII World Championship awards ceremony

The public was treated to a sneak preview today with the Extreme 40s finishing the day’s racing within the riverbanks of the river Douro, and from tomorrow they will get the full show with the Extreme 40s due to race in stadium mode each afternoon, following the mornings offshore races.

The competitors are preparing for more of the same challenging weather conditions tomorrow, with the winds expected to build over the weekend ensuring some close combat on the water.

Act 4, Porto, Extreme Sailing Series. Day 01. Images showing the skippers. Porto, Portugal. Credit: Lloyd Images

Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 4 Porto, Portugal standings after day one, seven races (05.7.12)?
Position / Team / Points?
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan / Ed Smyth / Pete Greenhalgh / Hashim Al Rashdi / Bleddyn Mon 44 points?

2nd Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec / Arnaud Psarofaghis/ Hervé Cunningham / Bernard Labro / Romain Petit 37 points

3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Matthew Adams / Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche 34 points

4th GAC Pindar (GBR) Andrew Walsh / Nick Rogers/ Mark Bulkeley / Adam Piggot / Jono Macbeth 34 points?
5th Alinghi (SUI), Ernesto Bertarelli / Jean-Christophe Mourniac / Pierre Yves Jorand / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey 32 points?

6th Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson / Will Howden / Charlie Ogletree / Nasser Al Mashari / Andy Maloney 30 points
?7th ZouLou (FRA) Fred Le Peutrec / Philippe Mourniac / Jean-Sébastien Ponce / Bruno Jeanjean / Patrick Aucour 27 points

8th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen / Rasmus Kostner / Pete Cumming / Mikkel Rossberg / Jonas Hviid 14 points

Groupe Edmond de Rothschild races upwind during offshore racing on day 1 in Porto - Extreme Sailing Series 2012

Groupe Edmond de Rothschild leads the Extreme-40 fleet during offshore racing on day 1 in Porto - Extreme Sailing Series 2012

Alinghi flies a hull while competing on day 1 of Act 4 in Porto - Extreme Sailing Series 2012

Extreme Sailing Series website