Extreme Sailing Series Act 1 at The Wave, Muscat, Oman. It was a classic finish as the all-French team of Groupe Edmond de Rothschild clinched victory in the final double point’s race at the end of an astonishing 32 races over five days.
'I didn’t know what to expect in terms of emotion in the case of victory, I didn’t have time to digest it as my crew threw me in the water,' said an emotional Pierre Pennec who was in tears at the finish. 'I am very emotional as it’s a lot of work, a lot of personal investment. It’s a long time now that I wanted to drive an Extreme 40, and winning ahead of all these champions, it’s amazing.'
Two races from the end, and the entire top 7 boats could in theory still win the event! With 22 points available in the final seventh race of today, both Artemis Racing and Red Bull Extreme Sailing were able to take victory, but in the end Terry Hutchinson’s Artemis Racing finished in fourth place, one place ahead of Pennec’s men who had therefore done enough, Terry commented:
'It’s good to see that all our hard work since the end of 2010 has paid off but there is still much room for us to improve. We’re having a little bit of a crew rotation for Act 2 in Qingdao, so there will be lots of work to do'. Act 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series will be staged between the 15-17 April in Qingdao, China, preceded by two open-water racing days.
Roman Hagara, skipper of Red Bull Extreme Sailing, leapt on to the prize giving stage with his crew of Hans Peter Steinacher, Will Howden and Craig Monk, jubilant at having secured third place. For the Olympic duo of Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher, who competed together last year on the European tour, this is their best ever result:
'We are very happy tonight, that is the result we were looking for,' said Steinacher.
'The level is up again a lot this year and the all fleet is very tight together, it’s really tough! But we are in fighting mode!'
A total of 32 races were held over the five days – 11 races out on the open water courses on the first two days, and the remaining 21 within the confines of the ‘stadium’ right in front of the public. The second day delivered the most breeze – up to 21 knots – with the breeze softening to between 5-10 knots in the last two days.
As Hutchinson observed: 'It’s interesting to see that in strong winds Alinghi and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild were doing very well, but since the wind is lighter some of the new teams are much stronger.'
The final day of Act 1, one of the headline acts of the Muscat Festival, coincided with the last day the Festival. It was a fitting end to Oman’s annual cultural celebration and Act 1 of the 2011 circuit ended on a high as the party atmosphere kicked off at The Wave, Muscat.
In front of the public and VIPs a traditional Muscat band entertained the crowds with upbeat, pulsing music before the official prize giving began in the presence of His Excellency Al Sunaidi, Minister of Sports Affairs.
After the trophies had been given out to the deserving 11 Extreme 40 teams, including the top three teams in the Beach Football League, the Red Bull show swung into action as nine time World Champion trial biking, Kenny Delay, performed an incredible stunt as he leapt from Extreme 40 container to container. Thousands of public enjoyed the last day’s racing, cheering the Extreme 40 teams across every finish line.
Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand had a big comeback in the second half of the Act to finish in fourth place overall, beating Italy’s Luna Rossa by 2 points. Max Sirena’s Luna Rossa team that includes Britain’s Paul Campbell-James, defending 2010 Extreme Sailing Series skipper, struggled with consistency but seven first places over the five days including a win in the double-points final race ensured they kept the chasing Alinghi team at bay. For the home teams of The Wave, Muscat and Oman Air the script didn’t quite go to plan.
The Wave, Muscat skipper Torvar Mirsky, new to the game and the youngest skipper on the tour, was impressive in the opening half of the Act – adapting well from one hull to two. But some pushy tactics had them in trouble with the umpires and they dropped from third place on day 3 to seventh place. Oman Air’s Sidney Gavignet, also new to his role as Extreme 40 skipper, reveled in the experience ably supported by his experienced crew and although eighth place may not be where he wished to finish, it was a good first competitive Extreme 40 learning experience.
Roland Gaebler’s Team Extreme and the all-Italian team Niceforyou, alongside Britain’s Ian Williams on Team GAC Pindar were on the sharp end of the learning curve having arrived at Act 1 with limited training and boat preparation time. But expect to see these top class sailors get into the groove as the season progresses. These sailors represent the hottest in the sport and as the Act 1 winning skipper put it: 'They are improving fast and the competition will get even tighter soon.'
Bring on Qingdao! Extreme Sailing Series, Act 1 at The Wave, Muscat
Overall Results after 32 races :
Pstn / Team / Skipper/crew / points
1st Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec / Christophe Espagnon / Thierry Fouchier / Hervé Cunningham / 253 points
2nd Artemis Racing (SWE), Terry Hutchinson / Sean Clarkson / Morgan Trubovich / Andy Fethers / 243 points
3rd Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT), Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Will Howden / Craig Monk / 239 points
4th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Dean Barker / Glenn Ashby / James Dagg / Richard Meacham / 236 points
5th Luna Rossa (ITA), Max Sirena / Paul Campbell-James / Alister Richardson / Manuel Modena / 234 points
6th Alinghi (SUI), Tanguy Carioiu / Yann Guichard / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey / 217 points
7th The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Torvar Mirsky / Kyle Langford / Nick Hutton / Khamis Al Anbouri / 208 points
8th Oman Air (OMA), Sidney Gavignet / Kinley Fowler / David Carr / Nasser Al Mashari / 188 points
9th Team Extreme (EUR), Roland Gaebler / Bruno Dubois / Sebbe Godefroid / Michael Walther / 143 points
10th Niceforyou (ITA), Alberto Barovier / Alberto Sonino / Daniele de Luca Simone de Mari / 95 points
11th Team GAC Pindar (GBR), Ian Williams / Brad Webb / Gilberto Nobili / Jono Macbeth / 62 points Extreme Sailing Series