Act VI of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series delivered everything – frenetic racing in some of the best conditions that the fleet have seen this year, incident and, at the end, a display of tactics and strategy of the sort that makes this competition so enthralling.
It was – as the cliché goes – an Act of two halves for Alinghi. Having had a challenging start, things got even more problematic for the team on day one when, having being pushing hard, they lost their mast in the seventh and final race of the day (see Mark Lloyd’s spectacular pictures, below). As helmsman Morgan Larson explained:
“In that last race we were leading at the mark, we unfurled the gennaker, got the bear away and then the rig broke in two spots. We pushed a little too hard in that puff, and then it just went. It’s the first time I’ve broken the rig in these boats so it’s probably a lesson I’ve learnt there. There is a limit and we found it.”
That meant repairs by night, with the technical team performing miracles. João Cabeçadas, an integral part of Alinghi’s shore team, said:
“We’re a team so we were all hands on deck last night. First we looked at what we could recover from the broken mast, and then how we could adapt the new mast that we were provided. We didn’t get to bed until around 3am – David and I stayed for longer, and when we didn’t need as many hands helping with the heavier parts, we sent the sailing crew home. They were all keen to stay and help but we forced them to go and take some rest because they will be busy today. We have some races to win, and we don’t need to win all races to win the event”.
Their efforts were not in vain. The boat was back on the water and the team were reaping the benefits of the night’s hard work, putting together a string of performances that shot them right back into contention. So much so that, when it came to the final race, Alinghi had a chance to take the Act.
However, there is a bigger prize and Morgan Larson’s eyes were on it. With Emirates Team New Zealand needing to put a gap of two boats between them and The Wave, Muscat – Alinghi’s rival for the overall title – the Swiss went into full-on tactical mode, with the aim of keeping the Omani team from securing top spot and, thus, closing the gap in the championship. This they did, working hard to force their rivals ‘into the pack’, meaning that ETNZ did indeed take the Act, with The Wave taking second spot and Alinghi third.
ESS have put together a fantastic highlights package, which tells all of the story!
As Morgan Larson explained afterwards:
“We had an outside chance to win that last race and we did one lap of the race still trying to win, not knowing what could still happen. Then we got to the final lap and it was clear that if we continued to win the race with Emirates Team New Zealand second, then The Wave, Muscat may have won this Act. So we were thinking of the overall Series, we just had to let the Kiwis go, and then go back and hold The Wave, Muscat back a little bit because they were coming out strong. They’re such a good team, picking off boats one by one and so we just had to try and block them back and make it so we got second.”
Riveting viewing and it has made for what promises to be an epic conclusion to the 2014 Series. And now to Nice!
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 6 Istanbul standings after Day 4, 31 races (14.09.14):
Position / Team / Points
- Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker, Glenn Ashby, James Dagg, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 210 points
- The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 204 points
- Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 188 points
- Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Ted Hackney, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 169 points
- SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Christian Kamp, Brad Farrand 154 points
- Groupama sailing team (FRA) Tanguy Cariou, François Morvan, Romain Motteau, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 148 points
- J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Bleddyn Mon, Matt Cornwell 143 points
- Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Nick Blackman, Mark Bulkeley, Shaun Mason, Stewart Dodson 142 points
- Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Cédric Schmidt, Thierry Wassem 135 points
- GAC Pindar (AUS) Nathan Wilmot, Jack Macartney, Ed Smyth, Seve Jarvin, Tyson Lamond 130 points
- Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Matt Adams, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 126 points
- TeamTurx (TUR) Mitch Booth, Can Bayülken, Selim Kakış, Deniz Çinar, Anıl Berk Baki 85 points
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2014 overall standings:
Position / Team / Points
- Alinghi (SUI) 55 points
- The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 54 points
- Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 43 points
- Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 36 points
- J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 29 points
- SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 24 points
- Oman Air (OMA) 23 points
- Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 23 points
- Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 23 points
- Groupama sailing team (FRA) 20 points
- GAC Pindar (AUS) 6 points
All photos by Mark Lloyd and copyright Lloyd Images 2014