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Dean's Diary- Extreme 40's in Qingdao - Dean Barker reports for Nexus

by Dean Barker on 19 Apr 2011
The Extreme Sailing Series 2011. Act 2. Qingdao. China. Credit: Lloyd Images Lloyd Images ©

Dean Barker, Emirates Team NZ skipper and Director of!Kiwi_Yachting_Consultants_Nexus_AB, reports from Qingdao on the recently concluded Extreme40 series, in which Emirates Team NZ finished second overall to Luna Rossa.

Final day in Qingdao

Today was the final day of the Extreme 40 event here in Qingdao, China. Conditions were very similar to yesterday with very light and fickle winds which never really got above 5 knots.

Going into today there were 5 different boats all with a chance of winning the event and with 8 races planned including a double points final race it was always going to be a tough day.

We didn't have the best start to the day making a couple of mistakes which cost us a number of points early on. However we bounced back strongly with consecutive wins to find ourselves in the lead with 3 races to sail. Prada then had to good races in a row to retake the lead and move out to a 9 point lead with the final race to sail.

In the final race we sailed very well in the light and shifty wind to post a second however Prada managed a fourth to finish 5 points ahead.

What was amazing during the day was how fortunes changed and very quickly. With 4 races to sail Alinghi were in the overall lead yet slumped in the remaining races to finish fifth. It was that close all the way through.

While I am disappointed not to win this event I am very pleased with the progress we have made even since the Oman event 1 month ago. While it is pleasing on one hand it makes us all the more determined to keep developing and improving our race skills in the multis. My instincts still have a way to go but reflecting on where we were in Almeria (final event of the 2010 ESS) in October last year it feels like we are developing along the right track.

Back to NZ tomorrow and then into some 45 sailing at home. Always nice to spend your birthday on the plane!

Day 4 In Qingdao

Today was about as different to yesterday as you could ever expect. After the heated pace of sailing in up to 30 knots today we never saw above 4kts on the race area.

Sailing in such light and flukey conditions in close confines of the shore proved to be extremely frustrating and challenging. No matter how well you think you sail there is always the element of luck required in certain situations around the course. Until the final race it felt like we had survived what was a very tough day, but after a good start at the favoured end and then sailing off to the favoured left hand side we were becalmed and rounded the first mark in last place which couldn't recover from.

Going into the final day we are now 3 points behind Prada relinquishing our lead for the first time in this event. We are tied with Alinghi so all to play for tomorrow.

Day 3 in Qingdao

Today was an incredibly eventful day on the water. It started with a very unstable wind coming off the city which couldn't really settle in any direction. The forecast was for the breeze to build which it did until the end of the day where it was gusting into the mid to high 20's.

The talk of today will be about the 4 boats that capsized during the racing. The Extreme 40's are renowned for nosediving in strong winds downwind and today there were plenty of examples of this. In the second race of the day we were close behind The Wave boat when they nosedived resulting in a violent pithchpole and the skipper Torvar Mirsky being catapaulted into the rigging but fortunately not suffering any serious injuries.

As the breeze continued to build the Race Committee called for all boats to reef and we did 2 more races in very puffy and shifty conditions. In the final race 3 boats capsized through pitchpoling and I think that was enough for the RC to decide enough racing for the day.

We had a great day on the water posting a 5,3,1,3 score to win the day and maintain our overall lead. Still very close at the front with 2 more days to go.

It brings you back to reality quickly when you see these boats having some big spills and you do fear for the safety of the guys. Fortunately there were no serious injuries to speak of today.

Looking forward to tomorrow

Day 2 in Qingdao

Today was another good day for us in similar breeze to yesterday. During the day we saw anything from 4-12 knots from E-NE and a very difficult race course.

Our placings today were 3,2,4,1,9,4 to have the third best day on the water, 1 point less than the top two boats. Our final two races were marred by OCS (over early start calls) which resulted in a ninth and a seventh placing. We were certain in the second race we were wrongly called so protested the Race Committee on the basis of an error in the line call. The International Jury agreed with the video evidence we presented and were given a fourth placing which was the average points for our other races from the day.

We still maintain our lead at this event although the margin remains at just 2 points over Red Bull and 6 points over Alinghi and Luna Rossa. This event is extremely tight and with 3 days of stadium racing ahead of us anything can happen.


To read earlier editions of Dean Barker's blog!click_here

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