The grudge match on Cardiff Bay continued today, where there was no quarter given and no margin for error as a colossal 10 races were sailed, plus a knock out round at Act 5 of the Extreme Sailing Series™ presented by Land Rover.
With an average of 10 knots of breeze and gusts up to 18 knots rolling across the course, the fleet tore around the tight track travelling at up to 24 knots, and Morgan Larson and Alinghi kept it cool under the pressure, with two race wins enough to elevate themselves to the top of the leaderboard - despite missing out on the gold final in the knock out round. The team’s Olympic champion tactician Anna Tunnicliffe explained the Swiss teams approach: 'We have figured out a good strategy that works for us, which means keeping it clean and consistent, staying out of trouble and doing what we want to do. Today it was crazy and we had to be full on with the boat handling. Personally, Cardiff is one of my favourite venues for sailing. It keeps us on our toes all the time.'
With races lasting just six minutes, manouvres had to be executed quickly and with precision, with rapid deploys of the gennakers, before gybing and furling all in less than 20 seconds. As the breeze built throughout the day, Leigh McMillan and the team on The Wave, Muscat looked relaxed and in control, slowly chipping away at the leaderboard throughout the day, with two race wins enough to upgrade their overnight position from fourth to second. McMillan commented: 'I like pacing myself and it takes time to get everything clicking. For us it's about getting details right. It's largely down to the starts still but towards the end of the day we were getting it right. We are on the up and hopefully that gave other people something to worry about.'
It was a mixed day for both J.P. Morgan BAR and SAP Extreme Sailing team, who were first and second respectively coming into today. Neither could quite follow up on their storming first day, the Brits now in third and the Danish in fourth – but still very much in contact with the lead. Paul Campbell-James, who is sailing with Ben Ainslie for the first time this week, commented: 'It was a tricky day today, we were really punching off the start line. Yesterday we were controlling things from the front but today was pretty different, we weren’t really performing as well on the starts which means that you are fighting your way within the pack but the mood is still pretty good on the boat. We are still moving forwards in the fleet whether we are at the front or the back; it is all pretty encouraging.'
The Wave, Muscat’s stablemates on Oman Air were also impressive today, as were Realteam, both slowly clocking up the points, and making this a real six horse race halfway through the Act. Oman Air’s skipper Rob Greenhalgh remarked: 'We had a bunch of good races and had some good starts. We are finally getting some time in the boat with the same people and its really making a difference. The communication and split second decisions are critical. It's very competitive out on the start and everyone is fighting for every inch. The decision you make two minutes from the start has a big impact on the whole race. It's about fighting boat on boat.'
With the boats hitting top speeds of 24 knots, and with a racecourse just 300 metres wide in places, the fleet went shoulder-to-shoulder on the congested startline and even closer during the mark roundings. Emirates Team New Zealand found out just how tight the course is in race 14, when SAP Extreme Sailing team careered into the back of them, knocking out their rudders, leaving the Kiwis without steering, headed for the beach and out of the following two races while on water repairs were made. The jury will decide tomorrow if a redress is applicable.
Red Bull Sailing Team showed a marked improvement today, with two much needed race wins giving the team a boost up the leaderboard to seventh place, as well as morale. Their double Olympic gold medal-winning skipper Roman Hagara was pleased with his team’s performance: 'We had some good starts, and tried not to make any mistakes around the racetrack. If you can get ahead of the fleet then you’re in a good position. It’s really important to get good starts, and today we managed a few, but we still have to work on them. It’s always good racing here in Cardiff with lots of spectators to watch the racing.'
Gazprom Team Russia also had a better day today with a string of results in the top half of the fleet – despite being a little trigger happy off the start, as helmsman Phil Robertson elaborated: 'We had a really good day off the line today. We kept it as consistent as we could to keep the routine going and it worked, so we stuck with it and it paid off most of the time. I pulled the trigger a little early in some races and we had three races over the line. We were possibly pushing the starts really hard and that’s the result: you either get in front and get a great start or you are over the line and you have to drop back. The start is everything.'
Groupama sailing team were unable to make the overnight repairs needed following yesterdays collision with GAC Pindar, but will be back on the water for tomorrow and will be awarded average points for the races they have missed, making it a full fleet of 11 boats for the penultimate day’s racing at the Cardiff Harbour Festival.
Emirates Team NZ were involved in a shunt around one of the marks, losing a rudder, and had to withdraw from one race and sit out two others while repairs were made. A Jury Hearing tomorrow will determine whether they get redress for the incident. Cardiff Harbour Festival hosts Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 5 Cardiff, presented by Land Rover standings after Day 2, 20 races Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 141 points.
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 139 points.
3rd J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Campbell-James, Bleddyn Mon, Matt Cornwell 131 points.
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Jonas Hviid-Nielsen, Brad Farrand, Nicolai Sehested 120 points.
5th Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wassem 113 points.
6th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Ted Hackney, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 106 points.
7th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Shaun Mason, Stewart Dodson 91 points.
8th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Matt Adams, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 87 points.
9th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker, Ray Davies, James Dagg, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 75 points.
10th GAC Pindar (AUS) Nathan Wilmot, Hugh Styles, Ed Smyth, Seve Jarvin, James Wierzbowski 67 points.
11th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Romain Motteau, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 33 points