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Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 8, Sydney - Day 2

by Extreme Sailing Series 11 Dec 2015 10:28 GMT 10-13 December 2015

With an ominous wind forecast at the morning race briefing, day two of the Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 8, Sydney presented by Land Rover didn't disappoint.

Battling punishing gusts of 30-knots that belted through the skyscrapers lining Farm Cove, Lino Sonego Team Italia were caught off-guard by a big gust of wind coming off the Sydney Opera House, resulting in a dramatic capsize in front of the crowds for the Italian team. Watch the video on Facebook.

"As we tacked on the first beat I saw Red Bull Sailing Team out of the corner of my eye, we tried to avoid them but had no space and by then we were already at 90 degrees," explained bowman Tom Buggy. "That's when we went in, Enrico (Zennaro) flew past my head as he fell from the tramp, but I was lucky enough to cling on to the boat."

With no injuries to the crew, the safety team were immediately on site to provide assistance for the team that includes Italians Enrico Zennaro, Nevio Sabadin and Stefano Rizzi as well as French helm and Olympic sailor Pierre Pennec and British sailor Tom Buggy.

Remarkably 30 minutes later the Italian team were upright and incredibly shook off the nerves to make it back onto the racecourse for the next race.

Not one to shy away from the thrilling conditions, Race Director Phil Lawrence was racing the fleet six boats at a time to allow more space on the compact race track as a safety precaution. Four short sharp races were completed before racing was abandoned for the day.

"We continued to race as long as possible but the forecast was for the wind to go further to the south, which meant it would have come straight through the city resulting in vertical gusts which the sailors wouldn't be able to see. We decided to suspend racing at that point and have a good forecast for tomorrow and even better for Sunday's final," reflected Lawrence.

Today's unpredictable conditions have seen a lead change on the podium, with The Wave, Muscat leapfrogging from third to first, tied on points with second placed SAP Extreme Sailing Team. Oman Air are just three points adrift in third.

"We haven't been exceptional, but we haven't been disastrous either," said The Wave, Muscat's helm Leigh McMillan. "Today's gusts were so aggressive you couldn't really keep in control. It was nerve racking at times and pretty full on. Hopefully conditions get a little more normal tomorrow so we can smash in some good races."

Leading the mid-fleet charge is Red Bull Sailing Team and Team Turx in fourth and fifth respectively just one point apart. But the performance of the day went to sixth placed Gazprom Team Russia who took their first race win after changing to a full Russian crew in the last Act.

And finally back on the water Australian wild card team 33 South Racing will be raring to go tomorrow after missing a days racing as they repaired a significant hole in the hull of the boat sustained during yesterday's opening day.

Tune in tomorrow from 14.00 local time (GMT+11) on @exssLIVE for race updates, and from 15.30 local time (GMT+11) on the official event website or homepage to watch the living streaming of the penultimate day at the Extreme Sailing Series Sydney final.

Standings after Day 2, 12 races:

1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 83 points.
2nd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Mads Emil Stephensen, Brad Farrand 83 points.
3rd Oman Air (OMA) Stevie Morrison, Nic Asher, Ted Hackney, Ed Powys, Ali Al Balashi 80 points.
4th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Lionel Vaucher, Shaun Mason, Stewart Dodson 71 points.
5th Team Turx (TUR) Mitch Booth, Edhem Dirvana, Selim Kakis, Diogo Cayolla, Pedro Andrade 70 points.
6th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Pavel Kalinichev, Pavel Karachi, Alexander Bozhko, Aleksey Kulakov 57 points.
7th GAC Pindar (GBR) Adam Minoprio, Seve Jarvin, Jeremy Lomas, James Wierzbowski, Tyson Lamond 42 points.
8th 33 South Racing (AUS) Katie Spithill, Matthew Chew, Stacey Jackson, Henry Kernot, Luke Payne 41 points.
9th Lino Sonego Team Italia (ITA) Enrico Zennaro, Pierre Pennec, Nevio Sabadin, Stefano Rizzi,Tom Buggy 39 points.

Update from Oman Sail

McMillan, who is hoping to nail his third Extreme Sailing Series championship title on Sunday described the conditions as 'aggressive' saying a gust which led to the capsize of Lino Sonego Team Italia had served as a wake-up call for his team.

"These were pretty unusual conditions with winds we don't normally see in Sydney," said McMillan.

"We are racing close to the shore so we are very conscious of safety. Conditions at the top of the course were very aggressive so we didn't feel we could push very hard because we were always on the edge.

"In the first race we didn't really pull the trigger so in the next races, we had to concentrate more on performance. It was pretty full on out there but it ended up being a good day for us.

"Our focus is purely on trying to win so we have to concentrate on staying at the front and not falling behind."

It had been a relief to finish the day without sustaining any damage added teammate Sarah Ayton, recently-crowned ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year.

"To come away with the boat and crew in one piece is good though it was hectic out there. We had two good races but it was very windy, very shifty and very challenging so we had to be cautious," she said.

Omani bowman Nasser Al Mashari added: "It was a tough day for our team and the strong winds required some more physical work. There are two more days left and our focus is on winning the title and raising our national flag."

While The Wave, Muscat and SAP Extreme Sailing Team share the lead on 83 points, Stevie Morrison's Oman Air are snapping at their heels just three points behind despite finding the conditions challenging.

"We felt we could have done a bit better – it is a bit frustrating when you lose a few places and today we lost a couple," said Morrison.

"It was a variable day. We saw what could happen when Lino tipped over – it could easily have gone pear-shaped but we survived the day and are happy with how we are doing. When we came off the dock it was pretty windy and in the first race we were guilty of not pushing hard enough but in the last two we were driving as hard as we could."

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