Extreme Sailing Series 2011 ninth and final Act is being held on Marina Bay in Singapore. On the fourth day the 10 Extreme 40 teams competed in 11 short, sharp but punishing races as more breezy, but gusty conditions upped the tempo of the racing.
As the wind speed went into double digits for the first time during the final Act on Marina Bay, and with the teams all pushing hard in the confines of the Extreme Stadium, the risk of very close passes increased. In the eighth race of the day, Red Bull Sailing Team, who had right of way, slammed into the back of Team GAC Pindar whilst trying to avoid the collision – and with enough force to throw bowman Craig Monk into the water.
The Italian team Luna Rossa, skippered by Max Sirena, look to be on an unstoppable roll – leading their French rivals Groupe Edmond de Rothschild by 56 points, a gap almost unseen this year between these teams after a consistent performance from the Italians and a string of disappointing scores for the French. On the final day tomorrow, two racing sessions are scheduled and, like today, a potential for 10 or more races, in other words 110 points or more up for grabs taking into account the final double points race, and everyone expects the French team to close the gap on their rivals. So whilst the odds are stacked in favour of Luna Rossa with their British helmsman Paul Campbell-James, pulling off the ultimate victory, it is far from over – in doing so Campbell-James would become the first helmsman to win the Extreme Sailing Series twice* in its five year history: 'Today was perfect,' said Campbell-James. 'We nailed the starts and we kept really safe. We had a dream day today but Gitana could do the same to us tomorrow, although they would have to have a dream day and we would have to have a bad day.' These two teams have shared a tense battle throughout 2011 and no one will write the final chapter until it is done and dusted.
The NeilPryde Racing Series with 20 windsurfers from Asia and UK got off to a flying start today both during the day and in the dark, the competitors using LED night Tron sails for the first time. The waters were full this afternoon, also with foiling moths and an Optimist event that included kids from Russia, Finland and of course Singapore. Read the full report here.
Roman Hagara’s Red Bull Sailing Team would desperately love to finish on the podium here at the final event – they were last on the podium at the first Act 11 months ago – first, they have to fix their Extreme 40: 'The collision was a classic port-starboard and I tried to avoid Ian Williams but it was too late,' explained Hagara afterwards. 'We got a gust and we hit him on the back beam so our bow is destroyed with water coming in, but we managed to fix it for the races later on and luckily when Craig went overboard he wasn’t hurt and that’s the most important thing.' However, the Austrian team will have to work late into the night to fix their bow, then have to fend off the challenge from a clutch of teams who are only separated by a few points.
Oman Air put in a strong performance today to move into third place, Emirates Team New Zealand in fourth, Alinghi fifth and The Wave, Muscat sixth. 'It would be great to be able to finish on the podium at the final event,' said Oman Air skipper, and 2009 Extreme Sailing Series Champion, Chris Draper. 'I think we can do that and we are going to trust our guts a little more as we probably have been thinking about it too hard.'
Similarly, another tense battle will come into play for the third place on the 2011 overall podium with Emirates Team New Zealand, the Swiss team of Alinghi and The Wave, Muscat only separated by three points.
The only certainty tomorrow is that either Luna Rossa or Groupe Edmond de Rothschild will win the 2011 Championship – the rest will unfold on the final day of the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series tomorrow.
GAC Pindar has been awarded a three-year contract from global sports marketing company OC ThirdPole to provide a complete logistics support package to the award-winning Extreme Sailing Series. As Official Logistics Supplier for the series, GAC Pindar is responsible for every aspect of logistics provision, including transportation of all of the Extreme 40 boats that participate in the global series between the multiple locations on the event calendar. GAC Pindar is also responsible for transporting the supporting infrastructure, which includes onshore facilities such as the Extreme Race Village, media centre, race support centre and VIP area.
*Paul Campbell-James won the 2010 series as skipper of The Wave, Muscat
Extreme Sailing Series Act 9 standings after 25 races (9.12.11) Position / Team / Points 1st Luna Rossa (ITA), Max Sirena / Paul Campbell-James / Alister Richardson / Manuel Modena 186 points 2nd Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT), Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Matt Adams / Craig Monk 151 points 3rd Oman Air (OMA), Chris Draper / Kinley Fowler / David Carr / Nasser Al Mashari 149 points 4th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Dean Barker / Glenn Ashby / James Dagg / Jeremy Lomas 146 points 5th Alinghi (SUI), Tanguy Cariou / Yann Guichard / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey 141.5 points 6th The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Leigh McMillan / Kyle Langford / Nick Hutton / Khamis Al Anbouri 140 points 7th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec / Christophe Espagnon / Thierry Fouchier / Hervé Cunningham 128 points 8th Team GAC Pindar (GBR), Ian Williams / Mark Bulkeley / Andrew Walsh / Matt Cornwell 119 points 9th Team Extreme – the first club™ (FRA), Sébastien Col / Jean-Christophe Mourniac / Franck Citeau / Christophe André 108 points 10th Team TILT (SUI), Alex Schneiter / Charles Favre / Arnaud Psarofaghis / Nicolas Heintz 103 points