Extreme Sailing Series- Alinghi takes the first round in Singapore
by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz on 23 Feb 2014
Racing has concluded on the Final Day of racing in the Extreme Sailing Series, Singapore, with Alinghi (SUI) winning the series, continuing from where she left off at the end of the 2013 circuit.
The top two placegetters in the Extreme Sailing Series, Singapore - Alinghi and The Wave, Muscat pictured earlier in the series. Lloyd Images/Extreme Sailing Series
The breeze was lighter than previous days but still very streaky and puffy. But in the middle of the racing the wind suddenly increased to 25kts before dropping away again. Twelve boats were back on the course, after a superhuman effort over night by the shore crews. There were no boat breaking incidents on the course today.
The top boats in the regatta all clustered in the middle of the start line, with race leader Alinghi, helmed by Morgan Larson (USA) controlling the start right up to the starting signal. Just a few seconds before the start, the boats to windward of Alinghi accelerated and gassed the series leader.
At the top mark it was a two way contest between Russian backed Gazprom and Emirates Team NZ. Dean Barker took the left hand side at the bottom mark, but it wasn't the way to go and once again the right paid - where Gazprom Team Russia had headed. At the top mark Gazprom had regained the lead, but got stuck in the boats still on the windward leg, while Barker and his crew took the other side, cleared the traffic in the center of the course and found better pressure to head to the right hand side. The move was sufficient to give them the edge over Gazprom, who had less pressure and dropped their lead in the closing stages of the race as Emirates Team New Zealand powered through to win on a tighter angle and with better pressure.
After winning the previous race, Emirates Team NZ had a starting error and was called out for being over the line. The fleet took off for the left of the course which had not paid off in the previous start. At the top mark for the first time, The Wave Muscat leading Alinghi with JP Morgan BAR third. Smart positioning on the course enabled The Wave Muscat to pick up a strengthening breeze and go downwind in one gybe only.
The breeze picked up to 25kts at the bottom mark, with Alinghi going left and The Wave Muscat going right and extending their lead. A fluffed tack by Alinghi allowed JP Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) to get through Alinghi and into second place.
The race win for The Wave Muscat (Leigh McMillian - GBR) gave the team their ninth win of the series. JP Morgan BAR finished second with Alinghi flying down the course in third place.
The leaderboard showed that Alingi still had a handy lead overall going to 206pts, with The Wave Muscat in second, with Emirates Team NZ still in third overall, but 9pts behind The Wave.
The Wave Muscat pulled a daring port tack start, and managed to find the pressure and crossed the fleet. This time it was Alinghi's turn to fluff her lines, being called for a premature start, when she only had to sail conservatively to secure the series. But again the right paid, and The Wave Muscat was caught on the wrong side losing her early lead to Realstone and Groupama. The 25kt breeze of the previous race evaporated to leave the boats sailing in light airs.
Emirates Team NZ recovered from her earlier race and was first into the right hand corner and took over the race lead. However it was Team Aberdeen, going to the previously unfavoured left hand side, who moved through the fleet as the wind increased. She was passed by Ben Ainslie (JP Morgan BAR) with SAP coming through on the final windward leg to challenge Ainslie - just passing astern of the Brit when they crossed. At the top mark there was another lead change with Groupama (Franck Cammas - FRA) coming through and heading for the right hand side with JP Morgan BAR second. Groupama carried good pressure to the right andstayed with the increased breeze as they came back to the finish to give the French a race win.
Even though she finished last, Alinghi had won the series with a race to spare. Emirates Team NZ needing to beat The Wave Muscat by six points to take second overall
Emirates Team NZ got pressure and started on her march to the front. But when Barker came back, he was forced to duck transoms of those who started on the right hand side of the line. The Wave got dropped at the start, but recovered well. Barker made another bad mistake on the cross with The Wave Muscat. When the NZer elected to tack Emirates Team NZ ahead of the bows of The Wave Muscat. Barker left the move too late and was penalized by the umpires as a tacking boat which did not keep clear. The New Zealand had to do a penlaty turn, losing any chance of taking second overall, and was now fighting to stay on the podium.
The Wave Muscat went from strength to strength to get back into second place on the water at the bottom mark for the first time, with JP Morgan BAR winning the fonal double points scorng race by a comfortable margin. The focus on the rest of the leg remained as to whether Realstone could get three boats between them and Emirates Team NZ to knock the Kiwis off the podium completely.
Realstone (SUI) helmed by Jerome Clerc climbed up into third place at the finish with Emirates Team New Zealand getting caught in the middle of the fleet, and Realstone managed to get more than the required three places between her and the Kiwis.
Overall Alinghi was the clear series winner, with The Wave Muscat in second and Realstone third overall.
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