Day one of the Extreme Sailing Series ended with new skipper Morgan Larson tied for first place with tour favourites, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild. Today, Larson's impressive form continued as Pier Pennec's team clung to the top spot by only one point. Five different race winners out of eight races on day two, keeps the competition close.
It was a game of cat and mouse on day two, Act 1, Muscat as Oman Air’s new skipper, Morgan Larson, continued his impressive form to keep the pressure fully on the all-French team Groupe Edmond de Rothschild. Oman Air won the first race of day, the French team the next two, then another Oman Air victory – as the two teams traded places at the top of the Extreme Sailing Series leaderboard, now only separated by one point. It was not until the fifth race of the day by which time the breeze was starting to go light, that another team got a look in – this time, Leigh McMillan and his team on The Wave, Muscat.
'We did a really nice job on the more traditional windward/leewards,' said Larson after racing. 'Then when the reaching starts came into play I didn’t really have the timing to well and made a few errors that cost us a couple of points. But all in all the guys are doing a great job, we would be really happy with a podium finish and that’s our goal.' The Wave’s win broke the dominance of these two front-runners and both Roman Hagara, driving Red Bull Sailing Team and Ernesto Bertarelli, new skipper on Alinghi, each scoring their first race win of Act 1 – for Bertarelli, his first win in his Extreme 40 debut:
'We’re happy with the last race and winning it – to be positive in the debrief and look forward to tomorrow. I think everyone is going to win a race, I mean, the boats are fairly equal, everyone is quite good at what they do and the question is to be better than everyone else on average and we’re not quite there yet.'
The Swiss team only just one point adrift of ZouLou driven by Loick Peyron in sixth place. But five different race winners out of eight races on the second day, keeps the competition close.
On the short stadium courses, there was plenty of close racing and some boat to boat contact between the teams, which made for great online viewing from the multi-camera live race coverage that started today: 'Sailing inside the harbour is very tricky especially in the downwind starts,' said Roman Hagara, skipper, Red Bull Sailing Team.
'And the next days will be the same – it’s easier with a little bit more breeze but we have to deal with the lights winds also.' In the final race of the day, led by Bertarelli from start to finish, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild were penalized for not giving room to The Wave, Muscat at the downwind gate which, ultimately, cost the French the chance to extend their lead over Oman Air going into the halfway stage of Act 1.
Although this is only the first Act out of eight international events this year, James Boyd’s form guide reveals a more than close resemblance to the current form here in Muscat.
'For 2012 we feel there is one stand-out crew, but with little to choose between the remainder of the teams,' said Daily Sail editor James Boyd. 'Any of them are capable of getting on the podium this season. In short the fight for the podium is likely to be the tightest we have ever seen in the Extreme Sailing Series.'
Read Daily Sail’s James Boyd 2012 Form Guide here.
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 1, Muscat, Oman standings after Day 2, 14 races (29.2.12)
Position / Team / Points
1st Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec / Jean-Christophe Mourniac / Hervé Cunningham / Bernard Labro / Adeline Chatenet 85 points
2nd Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson / Will Howden / Charlie Ogletree, Nasser Al Mashari, Max Bulger 84 points
3rd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Ed Smyth, Pete Greenhalgh, Hashim Al Rashdi, Rachel Williamson 72 points
4th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Matthew Adams, Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche 65 points
5th GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams / Mark Ivey / Mark Bulkeley, Adam Piggot / Andrew Walsh 62 points
6th ZouLou (FRA) Loick Peyron, Philippe Mourniac, Jean-Sébastien Ponce, Bruno Jeanjean, Antoine Joubert 51 points
Morgan Larson, skipper, Oman Air: 'We did a really nice job on the more traditional windward/leewards, then when the reaching starts came into play I didn’t really have the timing to well and made a few errors that cost us a couple of points. But all in all the guys are doing a great job. It’s a challenge, when you can’t really see the wind and it comes and goes, to be consistent and do all the little things right. We would be really happy with a podium finish and that’s our goal.'
Ernesto Bertarelli, skipper, Alinghi: 'I think everyone is going to win a race, I mean, the boats are fairly equal, everyone is quite good at what they do and the question is to be better than everyone else on average and we’re not quite there yet. We’re happy with the last race and winning it – it’s a good way to go home - to be positive in the debrief and look forward to tomorrow.'
Roman Hagara, skipper, Red Bull Sailing Team: 'For sure, we were trying hard today but we also had a last place which is not so good. In the end we were quite happy with the second place in the last race so overall a pretty good day. Sailing inside the harbour is very tricky especially in the downwind starts and the next days will be the same – easier with a little bit more breeze but we have to deal with the lights winds also.'
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