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After a two-month break, the Extreme Sailing Series returns this Friday (the 22nd) to Cardiff for four days of intense stadium racing. The venue makes for particularly tricky but exciting racing. Surrounded as it is by buildings, the winds can swirl unpredictably, providing a unique challenge. And as it’s a Bank Holiday, big crowds, once again, should create a great atmosphere. Ahead of the start of racing, the teams have arrived in Cardiff to begin fine-tuning their machines. Here are some photos showing exactly what these awesome boats look like in pre-race mode!
In a thrilling end to Act IV of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series Alinghi sealed victory in Saint Petersburg – the team’s third win of the season, which has cemented their place at the top of the overall leaderboard at the halfway mark of the competition. Though the triumph was not secured until the final double-pointer race on Day 4, in truth it was Alinghi’s awesome performance on Day 3 that was the key to victory. Three race wins on this penultimate day saw the team notch an astonishing 74 points to move to the top of the rankings. It was a day and a performance that helmsman Morgan Larson said was his best ever in his three years on the circuit. Six short, action-packed races were sailed on the final day, which provided the best conditions of the week – 10 knots of breeze and 15 knot gusts making for exciting sailing. This meant that the starts were particularly important, with those that got it right able to take full advantage. As has been the case for some time now Alinghi’s biggest rival for top-spot was The Wave. Despite their best efforts, however, the Omani team could not close the overnight points gap on Ernesto Bertarelli’s team. Heading into the final race they needed a gap of seven boats to overtake Alinghi. It was a task too far and the delighted Swiss easily confirmed their win. Afterwards, Morgan Larson said: “It’s nice to put a little stamp on our win and to let the guys know that we’re here to try and win the whole Series this time. The team is working well together and we finally feel confident that we can do it. Saying that, the heat is on, some teams are working really hard and we know that we’ll have to step up if we want to stay head.” It was the fleet’s first visit to Saint Petersburg and to Russia and it was a huge success. There can’t be many more beautiful settings in which to race. Conditions were fantastic, as were the crowds. And Alinghi will certainly have happy memories of the venue! Now, onto Cardiff… Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 4, Saint Petersburg: 1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 160 points. 2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 148 points. 3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Peter Burling, Ray Davies, Blair Tuke, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 146 points. 4th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Phil Sparks, Matt Cornwell 120 points. 5th Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Denis Girardet, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wassem 117 points. 6th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Peter Wibroe, Nicolai Sehested 113 points. 7th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Paul Campbell-James, Matt Adams, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 97 points. 8th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Tom Johnson, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 96 points. 9th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Nick Blackman, Stewart Dodson 95 points. 10th GAC Pindar (AUS) Nathan Wilmot, Troy Tindill, Ed Smyth, Seve Jarvin, James Wierzbowski 88 points. 11th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Romain Motteau, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 88 points. 12th RussianFirst (RUS) Georgy Shayduko, Sergey Dzhienbaev, Pavel Kalinchev, Leonid Kazinets, Pavel Karachov 40 points. Extreme Sailing Series™ 2014 overall standings: 1st Alinghi (SUI) 38 points 2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 35 points 3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 32 points 4th Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 28 points 5th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 19 points 6th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 17 points 7th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 14 points 8th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 13 points 9th Groupama sailing team (FRA) 13 points 10th Oman Air (OMA) 11 points 11th GAC Pindar (AUS) 4 points
Photos from a furious day of racing in Saint Petersburg for Act IV of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. All photos copyright Lloyd Images
Ernesto Bertarelli’s team, Alinghi, bested the tough conditions on Day 1 of Act IV of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series, which has come to Russia for the first time. It is a tight stadium racecourse – just 300 metres wide at its narrowest point – and it was made all the more exciting by massive wind shifts that the crews had to battle, as well as contending with a four-knot current that runs across the racecourse. Alinghi, helmed by Morgan Larson were, as the ESS put it themseleves, the “pictures of consistency”. The team were the average fastest boat downwind and the quickest off the startline. That consistency has led to a nine point lead after the end of the first day. In second place are the longtime rivals The Wave, Muscat. Day 2 and the rest of the weekend promise to be a lot of fun on this exciting course… After the day of racing, Alinghi helm Morgan Larson said: “We were pretty terrible yesterday in the practice, so today we came out with a little different attitude. We had decent starts, we tried to stay on the opposite side of the racetrack to the rest of the boats so that every time we split from the group we had cleaner air and finally, a little bit of luck went our way and things worked out for us. It’s a challenging venue and it’s going to keep being challenging throughout the week.”
Sailed in a breezy North East wind (La Bise) the 76th, Bol d’Or was won by LadyCat powered by Spindrift racing, Dona Bertarelli and her crew adding a second victory of this mythic regatta to her successes. Alinghi took third, after battling hard for more than 5 hours and 40 minutes, Realstone completing the podium in second. Started with an already established medium to strong “bise”, the regatta was promising to be intense. All the D35 started with a reef in their mainsail to sail up-wind towards le Bouveret. But the “Bise”, as expected, didn’t blow all the way to the Valais part of Lake Leman and a tactical war started at the approach of Lausanne, forcing the tactician to climb the mast to find some patches of wind on the suddenly calm waters ahead of SUI-1. LadyCat managed to come back to the top of the fleet and passed the Bouveret mark ahead of her opponents. The battle down wind back towards Geneva was intense and many teams went bow down in the waves more than once, pushing their machines to their limits! Alinghi crossed the finish line in 3rd position after 5 hours 42 minutes of an exciting race from the start to the end and stays in the lead of the Vulcain Trophy before the season’s summer break.
Ernesto Bertarelli participated in his first Bol d’Or in the very early 90s on board an X-119 mono-hull. Fascinated and passionate about speed and technology, he quickly moved to what was then revolutionary, the multi-hull. It was in 1994 that he secured his first podium place at the Bol d’Or with Alinghi (ex-Poseidon), with an upside-down finish having capsized a few meters away from the finish line… in third position. 1995 saw him compete on what was the first Alinghi-conceived multihull (by Melvin and Morelli), built at the Décision boat yard. A yellow trimaran with some Fiat painting especially chosen for its brightness and capacity to reflect the sun. It certainly worked because, in 1997, the team secured its maiden victory in the historic race. In 2000, Alinghi 41 “The Black” was launched. It was a mighty Catamaran, designed by Seb Schmid and Jo Richards. Alinghi won the Bol d’Or with her, four years in a row between 2000 and 2003, getting the right to keep the Bol d’Or forever in 2001, having won it three times in a five years period. No other boat has ever won the Bol d’Or four times in a row, before and since. But sport without competition is not really sport, so Bertarelli decided to withdraw “the Black” from the competition after the 2003 Victory to allow the development of a new one design class, the Décision 35, of which Alinghi D35 was N° SUI-1. Since then, Alinghi D35 has taken part in all of the subsequent Bol d’Or. And this year will be the team’s 11th participation on this same boat. The team had to wait until 2011 for their sixth victory, which they secured after an epic fight against Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia, setting a new class record in 6h25’50’’. This year will be Ernesto Betarelli’s 22nd participation in this mythic regatta on Lake Geneva, out of which he has sailed 20 on a multihull…The only Bol d’Or that he has missed since his first race in 1994 was the 2007 edition when, of course, his attentions were focused on another regatta, just off the shores of Valencia… May the wind be with us on Saturday and may the best team win the 76th Bol d’Or Mirabaud!
What was a good weekend turned into a great weekend for Alinghi, with victory in the Open de Versoix. Having already won the Geneva-Rolle-Geneva on Saturday, the team – helmed again by Ernesto Bertarelli – led the event overnight after a great day’s sailing on the Sunday. A disappointing lack of wind meant that Monday’s conclusion to the Open was regrettably called off, but it does mean that Alinghi have returned to the top of the leaderboard of the Vulcain Trophy. And the victory makes it three from three for Bertarelli in terms of his own involvement… It is an auspicious time to be in such good form with the Bol d’Or due to take place next weekend. The highlight of the season, the race will see more than 500 boats sprinting to the end of Lake Geneva before returning to the finish line. As it is an event that Alinghi and their skipper have won six times the team will certainly be approaching the start-line feeling good. So, let’s hope the wind is with us and may the best team win!
The maximum of 6 races were raced today at the first day of the Open de Versoix… Alinghi started really well, claiming the first place of the two first races of the day. With two other podium places (2&3) a fifth and a dropped eleventh place, Alinghi is leading the Open de Versoix tonight with a 3 points lead over Mobimo and Tilt respectively 2nd and 3rd. Tomorrow Racing starts again at 12:00 for 6 races maximum in front of the shores of Versoix.