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Extreme Sailing Series: Anna Tunnicliffe reports from Day 1 + 2

'Mark rounding on Day 1 of the Extreme Sailing Series, Muscat'    .    Click Here to view large photo

Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) is an Olympic gold medal winner in the Laser Radial class from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a two-time winner of the ISAF World Sailor of the Year award. She is sailing with Alinghi in the Extreme Sailing Series and reports from Day 1 + 2 at Muscat, Oman - in Act 2 of the tour.

Day 1:
Yesterday felt like one of those days where you take a test and come out of it and are sure you are going to get a C at best, then you get your test back and you find out you've got an A-.

Two seconds after the start

2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) in action during the Womens Match Racing event at the 2012 Olympics -  © Richard Gladwell   Click Here to view large photo
We had some great races and then some races that were definitely not so great, but we survived the day and came out sitting in a close second place. SAP came out on top for the day, three points ahead of us. There are about 6 teams within 7 points of each other, so the rest of the series is going to be close, tight racing.

We raced open water races yesterday, meaning the course was set a little more offshore. Today we start stadium racing, where the finish line and some part of the course will be very close to shore to allow the spectators and sponsors to see the excitement up close and personal.

The races we sailed yesterday were standard windward/leeward courses with normal racing starts. The course began as a right side favored course, but with starboard roundings at the top, there were times when the left boats came in with a powerful advantage. Then half way though the races the wind stopped its right swing and started oscilating back and forth, opening up the race course that much more.

The courses were short, but not as short as usual, but even so passing lanes were limited. Biggest gains were made on the downwind leg by hitting lay lines correctly or rounding leeward marks with speed or clean air.

This was the first time I had sailed with 11 boats on the course and it was noticeably more crowded. Every small mistake made for a huge loss.

We came away yesterday with two wins and a few top 5 finished. The keys to yesterday were to get off the line well and hold your lane to lay line. Once you rounded the top mark, picking your gybe back into the bottom mark was huge. With the wind oscillating and not blowing much above 7kts all day, angles were changing hugely. There were times when you would come out of a gybe and think you would be OK on the mark, then the wind would die or shift and you would have to do two more gybes to the mark. And yesterday was not the type of day where you wanted to do extra maneuvers.

Racing continues today with stadium racing. We will try for another 8 races at least I think. The sun is out, but the wind is a little light as of 9am this morning, but I'm sure a sea breeze of some sort will build. You can follow the racing live online at the regatta website. We start racing at 2pm local time.

Day 2:

A solid end to the day put us on top of the leaderboard with a 4 point lead over The Wave, Muscat after day two of racing at Act 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series here in Muscat, Oman. It was again another tricky, light air day, where racing was up and down for everyone, but Team Alinghi managed to put a few good ones together and they climbed us up to the top of the leaderboard for the night.

The day started with similar conditions to yesterday, only slightly lighter. As the day progressed, the wind shifted to the right and made for some difficult decisions around the track regarding favoured side versus amount of traffic.

At the beginning of the day, we had a shocking first two races. We struggled off the start line and had some maneuvers that weren't quite timed right. But after those couple of races, we managed to turn it around and end the day with a 1,3,1 on our score card.

The last race of the day was where I felt the most pressure. Right before the race we were informed by our support rib that we were tied on points with Emirates Team New Zealand. The conditions were getting lighter and the course was very one-sided. You had to go to the right upwind; that's where all the pressure was. The start of the race was crucial. We decided that we wanted to start in the middle of the line. We had one of our best set ups of the day and managed to get off the line with good speed. And the start, like all of the starts for the day, was a reaching start to a mark about 500m away, where we turned left and headed downwind.

We were in second around the mark but the fleet was very closely packed together. We held on starboard gybe for half the leg and beat the Russian boat that had been in front of us to the gybe. We gybed just high of the layline to the left gate (which would send us to the right gate), but with the pressure now on our side we were able to soak down to the mark. The gate marks were set up so that the right hand gate was farther upwind, but we elected to take the left gate and head right, get into clear air faster and more pressure. The choice paid off and we moved into the lead and extended it by the top mark. From there it was a downwind leg to the finish line. All we had to do was two gybes and cross the line and we crossed the line for a win in the last race of the day.

It was a great way to end the day. Everyone was feeling much better and more relaxed than at the beginning of the day. We have two more days of racing, however, so we are just focusing on the next race to come - the first race tomorrow. Racing tomorrow starts at 2pm local time and again at least 8 races will be tried for. You can follow along live on the regatta website.

Sail Hard,

Anna


by Anna Tunnicliffe


  

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12:13 PM Thu 20 Mar 2014GMT


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2014 Extreme Sailing Series

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