Act 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series in Istanbul has picked up the pace a level at the halfway mark, with a new looking top three at the end of day two. Leigh McMillan and The Wave, Muscat started the day in what McMillan described as 'a pretty slow start, we had our knickers in a twist' but that didn’t faze the British Olympian who came out swinging at the end of the day in pole position, over hauling Red Bull Sailing Team in the final race. But the ‘man of the match’ award today goes to McMillan’s teammate Morgan Larson on Oman Air, who scored an impressive three race wins to propel his team into third place.
The sailors were preparing for a light wind day today after a short postponement to racing with just one knot of wind reported from the racecourse as they tried to get proceedings underway. Thirty minutes later and in 12 knots, the wind was up and the racing was off – but not for four of the teams, who were over the line in the opening race and were forced to restart. The pressure on the water was evident – throughout the day five of the eight-boat fleet were given a penalty on the start line – only ZouLou, Alinghi, and Oman Air stayed out of trouble, which paid off for Morgan Larson, who climbed from fifth to third at the end of the day.
Larson said of the competition, 'Red Bull Sailing Team set a level early on in this regatta. It’s a tough field but we will keep plugging away.' When asked what his expectations are here in Istanbul, Larson smiled, answering coyly, 'Tomorrow is the day we really want to win. To go into the final day at the top of the leaderboard puts you in a strong position. We have more wind expected tomorrow so bring it on'.
The battle between The Wave, Muscat and Red Bull Sailing Team felt reminiscent of Act 2 in Qingdao, when Hagara kept McMillan at bay for the first two days of racing, only to be overthrown by the Omani team after 17 races who ultimately went on to win the Act. In Istanbul, the tally was 12 races for Red Bull Sailing Team before McMillan stepped up his game in the final race with a win – enough to leave them with an advantage, albeit a very slim one point advantage, at the top of the leaderboard at the half way stage. A relieved, and somewhat surprised McMillan said: 'You get off the water after a day like that and breath a big sigh of relief that you haven’t completely messed things up! We always seemed to be in a bit of a battle fighting with boats. Well it is just a big shock to find out that after day two we are top of the leaderboard.'
Hagara was obviously disappointed after racing today but there was fighting talk from the double Olympic gold medallist. 'The good news is that we are still very close to the leader. We made a bad decision on the last race at the gate and it ended up costing us one point and I think it will be tight until the last race of Sunday, for double points, so we still need to be up there and try to get a podium. We were leading yesterday, then The Wave, Muscat are now, so now it´s up to us to put pressure on them and keep that until the last race.'
Alain Gautier proved he is not only an offshore sailing legend today, but that he can also mix-it up with the best sailors of stadium racing winning the opening race of the day with his team on Alinghi, seeing them climb from seventh to sixth, while Erik Maris on ZouLou was not so fortunate losing two men overboard in the first race of the day – they quickly recovered and completed in the race with two rather wet, and slightly embarrassed, sailors on board. Nonetheless, as Erik Maris reacquaints himself with Extreme 40 racing in his first regatta since 2009 , the team is showing they can mix-it up scoring a second place in the final race of the day.
It will be an early rise for the teams tomorrow who will complete a morning race on the Bosphorus, a busy shipping channel, the teams will have to contend with ferries and strong currents. The NeilPryde Racing Series also begins tomorrow with a line-up of 95 Turkish windsurfers who will be battling for their share of US$3,000.
Pierre Pennec – Groupe Edmond de Rothschild: We have improved compared to yesterday. We are doing well on speed and are doing better on tactics and especially doing better on starts compared to Qingdao. We are very close on points to the previous boat and closer to the top teams and on board work is working well. We have had a wonderful racing day with good conditions and great weather, so in short, a better day for us today.
Erik Maris – ZouLou, On coming second in race 13: We don’t see much in those races, we go around quickly and everything happens so fast, but we started well and we managed to stay up front. That felt pretty good – we are improving. We are very much looking forward to tomorrow, the Bosphorous Race will be fantastic, and as we are improving, hopefully we will be even better tomorrow.
On losing two crew overboard: Well we don’t really know what happened, but a line just went and the two guys just went overboard. We only noticed they were gone when we heard them screaming. We lost a few points there, but we got our crew back, and they are safe, which is most important.
Jes Gram-Hansen – SAP Extreme Sailing Team: I think we sailed pretty well – we are really happy with the way we sailed, and the way things turned out. I think we are getting better and more comfortable with the boat. I think our boat handling was really good today, and it is more about getting into the cat sailing when you are used to keelboats. We are definitely getting there.
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 3, Istanbul, Turkey standings after Day 2, 13 races (08.6.12): Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan / Ed Smyth / Pete Greenhalgh / Hashim Al Rashdi / Rachel Williamson 74 points
2nd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Matthew Adams / Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche 73 points
3rd Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson / Will Howden / Charlie Ogletree / Nasser Al Mashari / Max Bulger 69 points
4th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec / Christophe Espagnon / Hervé Cunningham / Bernard Labro / Romain Petit 66 points
5th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen / Rasmus Kostner / Pete Cumming / Mikkel Rossberg / Jonas Hviid 53 points