In the Extreme Sailing Series, on a day that saw the strongest winds so far here in Rio de Janeiro – a city that will have the world’s eyes on it for the next four years in the build up to the 2016 Olympic Games – the pressure turned up a tempo on the water. A collision between Brazil’s greatest ever Olympian and the Extreme Sailing Series tour leader The Wave, Muscat, and the French Groupe Edmond de Rothschild finding their best form of the season, has set the scene for tomorrow and left us poised for the final day for the 2012 season, with every podium place still open.
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild went up a gear in a near picture perfect day for skipper Pierre Pennec. Three race wins have elevated them to the top of the leaderboard and for the first time this Act there is a little light between the top four teams. Pennec’s sights are firmly set on a win in Rio, although he is realistic about the fight for the 2012 championship. 'Tomorrow will be a real battle, and I hope the conditions will be as good. We work well on board and have good crew communication and good boat speed. I would like to be on top of the podium for Act 8 Rio and second overall in the championship'.
All the teams were pushing hard and in 20 knots of wind with gusts that peaked at 24, bearing-away at the windward mark proved particularly challenging and the risk of incidents on the water increased. SAP Extreme Sailing Team came closest to a capsize in the opening race as co-skipper Rasmus Kostner explained:
'It was a full on day and pretty challenging. The races lasted about eight minutes each and so you are working the boat really hard. We had a close call! There was a lot of breeze and the bows dug really far in. We recovered but it’s the closest we have been.'
Leigh McMillan’s team The Wave, Muscat, who are the favourite for the 2012 championship title, started the day on the back foot after crashing into the British team GAC Pindar at the start of race two. The British skipper, who has London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Hannah Mills as part of his crew in Rio, turned it around going on to score three race wins and relishing the stronger breeze. McMillan looked unstoppable – that was until Torben Grael’s Team Brasil slammed into The Wave, Muscat’s back beam in the penultimate race, causing damage not only to the boat but also some minor muscular damage to Omani bowman Hashim Al Rashidi. While a win in Rio would be the icing on the cake for McMillan, his focus is on the bigger picture.
'The conditions were absolutely brilliant today in Rio. The team was working really well together in the breeze and we are really happy with our performance. We’re looking forward to another great day tomorrow, and while we would really like to win this Act, the main goal now is securing the overall Series title.'
Morgan Larson kept it cool today on Oman Air, staying out of trouble and wrapping up the penultimate day in third place. Roman Hagara’s Austrian Red Bull Sailing Team – just one point behind Larson in fourth place – will be disappointed not to head into the final day in a podium position. But with the potential for eight races tomorrow and 81 points up for the taking, the Act 8 leaderboard is wide open.
The Jaguar NeilPryde Racing Series was in full swing today with some of Brazil’s top windsurfing talent testing out the 2016 Olympic waters including Brazil’s 2012 Olympic representatives Patricia Freitas and Ricardo ‘Bimba’ Santos.
The only certainty tomorrow is that The Wave, Muscat have guaranteed themselves a podium position in the overall 2012 Championship – the question is what place and who will be joining them.
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 8, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil standings after Day 3, 22 races (08.12.12)
Position / Team / Points
1. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Hervé Cunningham, Romain Petit, Bernard Labro 144 points 2. The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Leigh McMillan, Ed Smyth, Pete Greenhalgh, Hannah Mills, Hashim Al Rashdi 138.2 points 3. Oman Air (OMA), Morgan Larson, Will Howden, Charlie Ogletree, Andy Maloney, Nasser Al Mashari 125 points 4. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT), Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Matthew Adams, Pierre Le Clainche, Graeme Spence 124 points 5. Alinghi (SUI), Pierre-Yves Jorand, Jean-Christophe Mourniac, Bruno Barbarin, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 117 points 6. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN), Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Pete Cumming, Mikkel Røssberg, Jonas Hviid 112 points 7. GAC Pindar (GBR), Andrew Walsh, Anna Tunnicliffe, Mark Bulkeley, Adam Piggot, Richard Peacock 93.6 points 8. ZouLou (FRA), Erik Maris, Philip Mourniac, Jean-Sébastien Ponce, Patrick Aucour, Bruno Jeanjean 83 points 9. Team Brasil (BRA), Torben Grael, Alex Welter, Diogo Cayolla, André Mirsky, Marco Grael 61 points