Alinghi emerged victorious from Act 3 of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series in Qingdao despite being victim of one of the biggest and most spectacular crashes in the Series’ eight-year history.
The team had led the Act since race one and it was this relentless consistency – combined with a redress awarded by the international jury following the collision – that ultimately saw them secure the victory and move two points clear at the top of the Series leaderboard. Throughout the Act conditions had varied wildly, with light winds on the first day giving way to gusts of up to 32 knots on the second as the fleet moved into stadium racing mode.
Speaking about Alinghi’s ability to master these variable and trying winds, acting skipper Morgan Larson said:
“At times the boat that would come off the line last would go on to win races. That goes to show that today there was opportunity, whereas yesterday you needed to have a good start and the positioning needed to stay the same – with the shifty winds today it really created opportunity. Most of the time you have to be aggressive on these boats to do well, if you back off and be conservative that’s when trouble seems to happen. So balancing that today was really key and I think we did a good job – we positioned ourselves conservatively but we sailed the boat physically hard, and I think the results show.”
The results did indeed show and Alinghi went into the final day looking to maintain their lead of ten points over the fleet. Ultimately they did so – finishing by the same margin ahead of fellow Swiss team Realstone – but that was perhaps not the main talking point of the day. In one of the final races of the day the unlucky Red Bull Sailing Team were caught by a huge gust that propelled them into Alinghi’s side in one of the biggest incidents of its kind in the history of the Series.
As Morgan Larson explained afterwards:
“We were lining up at the start, and approaching the line with ten seconds to go and most of the fleet was on port. Red Bull ducked behind us, the winds were shifty and up and down, there was too much of a puff and they couldn’t get the bear away and T-boned us – it happens. It’s great to have won, we had such a great regatta that it was bittersweet to end that way, but I think we earned it so it feels good. We’re just glad that no one was hurt and that the boat is repairable – it will take a week in a good boat yard, but it will be back and ready to race.”
Even though Alinghi’s crew had to watch the final races from the dock, the team took the Act victory after a redress awarded by the international jury. So now, with the fleet looking towards Act 4 in Saint Petersburg, Alinghi have stolen a march on their rivals and, with the Series reaching the halfway stage, will be looking to cement their lead.
Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 3 Qingdao, for the ‘Double Star Mingren’ Cup standings after Day 4, 32 races:
Position / Team / Points
- 1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 178 points.
- 2nd Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Denis Girardet, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wassem 168 points.
- 3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Peter Burling, Glenn Ashby, Blair Tuke, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 160 points.
- 4th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 159 points.
- 5th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Paul Campbell-James, Alister Richardson, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 140 points.
- 6th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Tom Johnson, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 133 points.
- 7th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Pippa Wilson, Matt Cornwell 129 points.
- 8th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Sophie de Turckheim, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 128 points.
- 9th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Nick Blackman, Stewart Dodson 126 points.
- 10th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Peter Wibroe, Nicolai Sehested 125 points.
- 11th Team Extreme Qingdao (CHN) Mitch Booth, Zhang Yiran, Liu Xue, Nick Moloney, Freddie White 111 points.
- 12th GAC Pindar (AUS) David Gilmour, Troy Tindill, Ed Smyth, Sam Newton, Alexandra South 98 points.
- Extreme Sailing Series™ 2014 overall standings:
- Position / Team / Points
- 1st Alinghi (SUI) 28 points
- 2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 26 points
- 3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 24 points
- 4th Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 22 points
- 5th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 15 points
- 6th Groupama sailing team (FRA) 12 points
- 7th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 11 points
- 8th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 10 points
- 9th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 9 points
- 10th Oman Air (OMA) 8 points
- 11th GAC Pindar (AUS) 3 points