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Swiss seize success from clutches of the Danes in Extreme Sailing Series™ Cardiff final

by Extreme Sailing Series 27 Aug 2018 22:06 PDT 24-27 August 2018

Having climbed the ranks throughout the Extreme Sailing Series™ Cardiff Act, Alinghi – the Swiss kings of foiling – seized victory from the clutches of SAP Extreme Sailing Team on the final day of the event.

In a nail-biting finish to an incredible four days of racing, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Yves Detrey, Nicolas Charbonnier, Bryan Mettraux and Timothé Lapauw headed into the all-important double points final race just one point ahead of their Danish counterparts. A third place finish saw them crush SAP Extreme Sailing Team's hopes of an Act victory, securing Alinghi's fourth Act win of the season - the first time the Swiss have won in Cardiff in the six years that they've competed in the Welsh capital.

"A fourth Act win feels really good," said an enthusiastic Psarofaghis, co-skipper and helm for the team. "We didn't actually start very well in Cardiff, with our headsail trimmer Nils Frei suffering an injury on the first day. We fought back and it's great to win here for the first time."

It was a gutting end to what looked like an otherwise promising competition for SAP Extreme Sailing Team. Having led the regatta since the first day, the Danes were hopeful for a taste of the glory. However, an OCS (over the starting line early) on the final race cost them dearly, relegating them to the back of the fleet for much of the race. They eventually crossed the line in fourth, securing them second place on the Act podium.

"The mood was pretty dark when we were called over the line," admitted the team's disappointed helm, Adam Minoprio. "We tried our best to fight back but we still ended up losing to Alinghi. We're only two points behind them on the overall leaderboard though, and there are still two events left in San Diego and Los Cabos. Mexico is a double-points Act so we just need to be strong from now on."

SAP Extreme Sailing Team won the Zhik Speed Machine Trophy for reaching the Act's top speed of 34.3 knots, an insight provided by SAP.

It was another podium clocked for Phil Robertson and his crew too. Team Oman Air took an impressive six top-three finishes on day four, including pole position in the double-points last race.

"It was a great way to finish the event," enthused skipper and helm Robertson. "It would have been nice to climb another spot, but we're definitely improving Act by Act."

Following their capsize yesterday, the Omani team today brought British sailor Adam Piggott onboard as a replacement for injured mainsail trimmer, Pete Greenhalgh.

Cardiff delivered every season over the course of the UK bank holiday weekend. From glorious sunshine to strong winds and torrential rain, the talented sailors were pushed to the limit as they navigated the tricky course in ever-changing weather conditions. For Team México, the weather couldn't be further from what they're used to.

"It was pretty windy," said bowman Danel Belausteguigotia. "We actually capsized on training day which was pretty cold for us as Mexicans! We're looking forward to the end of the season in Los Cabos, for sure!"

Finishing just ahead of the Mexican contingent was Austrian challenger, Red Bull Sailing Team. A string of inconsistent results saw them place fifth in the Act behind INEOS Rebels UK – Red Bull Sailing Team's fourth fifth-place finish this season, broken only by a fourth place finish in Barcelona. Still, the team remained in high spirits as they stepped onto the dock.

"The wind in Cardiff makes it a really fun place to sail," explained Hans Peter Steinacher, Red Bull Sailing Team Sport Director. "It's challenging because of the wind speeds, so you'll struggle to get back up the leaderboard if you fall behind."

It was a busy day for Kiwi sailor Olivia Mackay, helming the Team Wales GC32 in the afternoon and her Red Bull Sailing Team Flying Phantom just hours before. Although Team Wales finished the Act in seventh place, Mackay sailed her Flying Phantom with finesse throughout the competition, taking the Act win in the Flying Phantom Series with crew Micah Wilkinson.

Despite their string of struggles with logistics and boat damage this weekend, it was French foiling superstars, Antoine Rucard and Solune Robert from Team France Jeune, who were crowned overall champions of the Flying Phantom Series.

"It all began with a little problem with Solune's passport," said crew Antoine Rucard, speaking of the issues they'd had. "He only arrived a couple of hours before the first race! Then we had a rather amazing capsize that broke the mast, before damaging our foil case on the following day. In the end, we made it onto the Cardiff podium which meant we won the Series. A hard event, but worth it."

As the Cardiff Act draws to a close, it's all eyes on San Diego, USA – the next stop on the circuit's ten-month tour, in an event presented by SAP. Heading to the Californian coastline from 18-21 October, the Extreme Sailing Series US Act promises to be a tough match for the elite level GC32 fleet, and an action-packed spectacle for the Series' global audience.

For more information on the Extreme Sailing Series, please visit the official event website.

Extreme Sailing Series™ 2018 Cardiff Overall: (29 races)

1st, Alinghi (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Timothé Lapauw, Bryan Mettraux, Yves Detrey: 307 pts
2nd, SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Rasmus Køstner, Adam Minoprio, Julius Hallström, Hervé Cunningham, Richard Mason: 304 pts
3rd, Oman Air (OMA) Phil Robertson, Adam Piggott, James Wierzbowski, Stewart Dodson, Nasser Al Mashari: 303 pts
4th, INEOS Rebels UK (GBR) Will Alloway, Leigh McMillan, Oli Greber, Adam Kay, Mark Spearman: 282 pts
5th, Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Chris Taylor, Ed Powys, Neil Hunter, Dan Morris, Rhys Mara: 275 pts
6th, Team México (MEX) Erik Brockmann, Tom Buggy, Alex Higby, Tom Phipps, Danel Belausteguigoitia Fierro: 218 pts
7th, Team Wales (GBR) Olivia Mackay, Alain Sign, Kyle Stoneham, Gareth Fowler, Peter McCoy: 202 pts

Extreme Sailing Series™ 2018 Standings: (after Cardiff Act)

1st, Alinghi (SUI) 57 pts
2nd, SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 55 pts
3rd, Oman Air (OMA) 51 pts
4th, INEOS Rebels UK (GBR) 46 pts
5th, Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 41 pts
6th, Team México (MEX) 35 pts

Flying Phantom Series Cardiff Overall: (20 races)

1st, Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Olivia Mackay, Micah Wilkinson: 407 pts
2nd, Idreva Zephyr Foiling (FRA) Charles Hainneville, Thibault Julien: 382 pts
3rd, Team France Jeune (FRA) Solune Robert, Antoine Rucard: 357 pts
4th, Culture Foil (FRA) Nicolas Ferellec, Théo Constance: 356 pts
5th, Flying Frogs (FRA) Pierre Le Clainche, Arnaud Vasseur: 352 pts
6th, Masterlan (CZE) David Krizek, Milan Harmacek: 316 pts
7th, EVO Visian ICL (GER) Raphael Neuhann, Elias Neuhann: 313 pts

Flying Phantom Series 2018 Standings: (after Cardiff Act)

1st Team France Jeune (FRA) 97 pts
2nd Idreva Zephyr Foiling (FRA) 95 pts
3rd Culture Foil (FRA) 88 pts
4th Flying Frogs (FRA) 75 pts
5th Masterlan (CZE) 70 pts
6th UON (POR) 62 pts
7th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 56 pts
8th EVO Visian ICL (GER) 56 pts
9th Team France Jeune 2 (FRA) 17 pts
10th Pegasius Project (FRA) 16 pts
11th Team France Jeune 3 (FRA) 14 pts
12th Captain's speaking (FRA) 11 pts
13th Cup Legend (FRA) 10 pts

Roller-coaster result for Red Bull Sailing in Cardiff regatta (from Red Bull Sailing)

Hosting the Extreme Sailing Series for the seventh consecutive season, Cardiff served up spectacular sailing as winds pushed the GC32s to the limit, and sometimes beyond. The regatta saw four capsizes over the weekend – from SAP Extreme Sailing, Team Mexico, Oman Air and Team Wales – but Red Bull Sailing thrived in the heavy rain of Day One, finishing on the podium in third. The Austria-based team lost pace in the lighter winds of Day Two and couldn't find it again in the 20-knot gusts of Day Three, but they surged back in Monday's final races, with five podiums.

With the Cardiff result, Alinghi, SAP Extreme Sailing and Oman Air lead the overall standings, while Red Bull Sailing remains in fifth overall. "Of course this isn't the result we were aiming for. The conditions were exciting but we weren't consistent. However, we have a young team and we keep learning," said Hans Peter Steinacher, who won two Olympic championships with Hagara and serves as the team's sport director and tactician. "There are two regattas left, in San Diego and Los Cabos, and Roman and I are already looking toward solutions to produce a strong finish to the season."

Hagara – who is the hands-on coach for Red Bull Sailing in the Extreme Sailing Series in addition to leading as skipper – and Steinacher have made it their mission to find and mentor the next generation of sailing talent in Red Bull Foiling Generation and the Red Bull Youth America's Cup, as well as in the Extreme Sailing Series.

"Our helmsman in Cardiff, Chris Taylor, helmed the winning boat in the 2017 Red Bull Youth America's Cup, which is why we decided to give him this opportunity," commented Hagara. The team is rounded out by Ed Powys, Rhys Mara, Dan Morris and Neil Hunter.

The potential of Hagara and Steinacher's approach to finding and building sailing talent was evident in Olivia Mackay's remarkable weekend in Cardiff. In 2016, the Kiwi and her sailing partner Micah Wilkinson won the first-ever World Final in the Red Bull Foiling Generation series, and in this weekend's wild Welsh waters the pair flew to victory in the Grand Finale of the Flying Phantom series. It was then that Mackay made her historic move up to helm Team Wales for the final day's action in the Extreme Sailing Series, a new milestone for women in sailing.

A fresh lineup of chargers will hope to follow in Mackay's footsteps when 16 international teams face off at this season's Red Bull Foiling Generation World Final at Miami, USA on 9-11 November 2018.

But up first: Red Bull Sailing will return to the sunshine – and breezes – of San Diego, USA for the penultimate act of the Extreme Sailing Series season on 18-21 October 2018.

Oman Air team on dazzling form to claim Extreme Sailing Series podium place in Cardiff (from Oman Sail)

The Oman Air team made sure of a podium place with a dazzling final day performance at the Extreme Sailing Series in Cardiff.

Having gone into the deciding last day of four holding third spot by a single point, the Oman Air GC32 crew pushed their immediate podium rival out of contention into fourth place and came within a heartbeat of claiming second overall in the Cardiff Bay showdown.

After posting two second places and a third in the early encounters, the Omani boat stepped up a gear to win three of the last four races, including the double-points finale.

When the spray settled, overall honours went to the ultra-consistent Swiss team on Alinghi with 307 points after they overhauled long-term Cardiff leaders SAP Extreme Sailing Team, who finished on 304 – just a single point ahead of Oman Air.

It was an impressive comeback for a team who were in fifth place at the end of the first day, and who showed real resilience to recover from a capsize on the penultimate day after which crew Pete Greenhalgh required medical treatment.

"We had a pretty good day on the water today and we pushed it hard and were fighting for the win," said skipper Phil Robertson.

"We were a little bit on the backfoot after day one when we were 20 points behind SAP, and the swim we had yesterday didn't help, so it just showed we were getting better and better as the regatta went on.

"You want to be peaking on the last day and that's what we did – we won the day today and we have been strong over the last three days."

At one point in the final race the fleet running order had the Omani team of Robertson, Stewart Dodson, James Wierzbowski, Nasser Al Mashari and reserve crew member Adam Piggott winning the Cardiff event overall before late changes settled the final placings.

"We had a great day today and we did our best and finished on the podium," said Al Mashari. "We are happy with how it went and are looking ahead to the next event and getting another good result."

Next stop for the globe-trotting Extreme Sailing Series is San Diego in southern California from 18 to 21 October, followed at the end of November by the double-pointed season decider in Los Cabos, Mexico.

In the overall season standings Oman Air are in third place with 51 points, with Alinghi leading on 57 points and SAP holding second spot with 55.

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