Extreme Sailing Series, Qingdao, China Act 2 of the 2011 global series is underway.
The horseshoe shaped Fushan Bay is home to the Extreme 40 fleet for the next five days. Surrounded by high-rise buildings of this huge industrial city is China's fourth largest manufacturing port, and is also known as the 'City of Sails'.
Qingdao hosted the Olympic sailing events of the 2008 Beijing Games in addition to being a stopover port for both the Volvo Ocean Race and the Clipper Race. But the people of Qingdao haven’t seen anything like the Extreme 40s before and although these first two days are non-public days, hundreds of public gathered along the huge pedestrian breakwater to see first-hand the boats in race mode.
Six races were staged today on the outside of the breakwater in a good easterly breeze between 10-15 knots and the ‘open water’ courses, close enough for the spectators to follow each race unfold. The gloves were off from the beginning and it was clear the 11 teams were going to push for every inch of water, resulting in two minor crashes which saw Groupe Edmond de Rothschild collide with Alinghi and Red Bull Extreme Sailing barrel into the back of team Niceforyou’s port hull.
It was Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand who had the better day finishing at the top of the leaderboard on 49 points: 'We started off a little bit slowly and then we steadily improved, our worst result was a seventh. It was testing today as we haven’t had the ideal preparation and I’ve been a little bit crook with food poisoning but it was good to get out there. The racing is really tight but it is the reason we are here, we want to test ourselves as much as we can against the best multihull sailors in the world, and this is the place to be.'
The Kiwi campaign is gathering momentum from their impressive start in Act 1 in Oman, which saw Barker’s men find their form over the final two days to finish fourth overall. And today’s first, second, two fourth places, fifth and seventh place demonstrated that they are steadily on the upward curve.
The Wave, Muscat (Torvar Mirsky), Red Bull Extreme Sailing (Roman Hagara) and Artemis Racing (Santiago Lange) ended the first day on equal points (47). Lange is a six-time Olympian, bronze medalist in 2004 and competitor in Qingdao at the 2008 Olympic Games, was delighted with his first Extreme 40 experience: 'I love it! I think we have had great wind conditions for Qingdao and I enjoyed it a lot. We have only practiced the day before and yesterday for a couple of hours so I felt that I was not going to perform 100% . It’s the first time we sailed together and it was a challenge as I have some issues with the language especially in the heat of the battle!'
Roman Hagara was also enthuasiastic with his team’s performance, third overall in the standings equaling their overall podium result in Oman, the first time the Red Bull Extreme Sailing team made the Extreme Sailing Series podium: 'Overall today was pretty good for us. We had some ups and downs but everybody was making mistakes and so were we but that is racing.'
The Swiss-team Alinghi skippered by Tanguy Cariou, helmed by Frenchman Yann Guichard, had a good and a bad day… Two first places in race 3 and 5, but three results in the bottom half left them in fifth place overall after the first day. Max Sirena’s Luna Rossa improved in the second half finding some consistency to leave them in sixth place, a good 8 points ahead of Act 1 victors, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, two second-places being their best race results of the day.
Chinese sailor, William Wu, on board Roland Gaebler’s Team Extreme had his first Extreme 40 race experience. Having had little time to train together, Gaebler’s team will be looking to improve on their current 10th place standing as Act 2 unfolds. Extreme Sailing Series Act 2 Qingdao
Current overall standings after Day 1 (13.4.11)
Position / Team / Skipper & crew / Points
1st Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Dean Barker / Glenn Ashby / Jeremy Lomas / Richard Meacham 49 points
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Torvar Mirsky / Kyle Langford / Nick Hutton / Khamis Al Anbouri 47 points
3rd Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT), Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Will Howden / Craig Monk 47 points
4th Artemis Racing (SWE), Santiago Lange / Rodney Adern / Morgan Trubovich / Andy Fethers 47 points
5th Alinghi (SUI), Tanguy Cariou / Yann Guichard / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey 44 points
6th Luna Rossa (ITA), Max Sirena / Paul Campbell-James / Alister Richardson / Manuel Modena 42 points
7th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec / Christophe Espagnon / Thierry Fouchier / Hervé Cunningham 34 points
8th Niceforyou (ITA), Alberto Barovier / Mark Bulkeley / Daniele de Luca Simone de Mari 28 points
9th Oman Air (OMA), Sidney Gavignet / Kinley Fowler / David Carr / Nasser Al Mashari 24 points
10th Team Extreme (EUR), Roland Gaebler / Bruno Dubois / Sebbe Godefroid / William Wu 24 points
11th Team GAC Pindar (GBR), Ian Williams / Brad Webb / Gilberto Nobili / Jono Macbeth 10 points
Extreme Sailing Series website