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Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 4, Hamburg - Overall

by Extreme Sailing Series 31 Jul 2016 21:41 BST 28-31 July 2016

Only one crucial, leaderboard changing double points race was sailed on the final day of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™ in Hamburg that saw Morgan Larson and his team on Oman Air snatch victory from the hands of Alinghi by just one point.

On an afternoon where Mother Nature toyed with the fleet on the River Elbe, Arnaud Psarofaghis and the Swiss team of Alinghi dared to dream. They finished the race in third place and looking over their shoulders saw Larson at the back of the pack.

A nail biting match race to the finish line between Larson and Land Rover BAR Academy saw the young Brits almost outwit the experienced Stadium Racers, but Larson held his nerve to pip them to the post, and with it took spoils in Hamburg.

"It was a feeling of relief more than anything, as we had so much pressure on us during that race – not the kind of pressure you like to put on yourselves. Fortunately it worked out and we could start breathing again", commented Larson.

"Hamburg was tricky, it tested us in many ways, but I think all of the teams will come out stronger from being here. We will have to go away, look at our notes, come back and improve."

Psarofaghis mirrored Larson's fighting talk: "We have four Acts to go so we're going to have to sail better to try and gain some points on Oman Air.

"It was a bit disappointing for us but I think we did the best we could. Oman Air are a really strong team, and they came back just at the end so I think they deserved the win and well done to them."

The battle for third was just as tense between SAP Extreme Sailing Team and Red Bull Sailing Team, the former having the points advantage at the start of the day. Second place in the race for the Austrians and fourth for the Danes leaves the teams tied on points – but it's advantage Red Bull Sailing Team in the rankings.

"It came down to the last race again. We got a great start and we had to make sure that Alinghi didn't overtake us. We had one boat between us and SAP Extreme Sailing Team which was working until the end of the race", commented Hagara, who now sits one point clear of Alinghi in the overall 2016 Series rankings.

"The biggest problem for us here was to get the starts right. We didn't have great starts and we always had to catch up and try and get the points in. If you want to compete against Alinghi and Oman Air, you have to start better."

The young match racing talent on CHINA One finished fifth overall after posting some impressive results throughout the week, and have been tipped as a team to watch this season as they get ever closer to the podium with each passing Act.

Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira showed some moments of brilliance throughout the week, the crowd pleasers taking maximum points in the final double points race to finish on a high, while the youth team of Land Rover BAR Academy posted some good individual results as they work towards emulating the success of their senior racers including Sir Ben Ainslie.

Over 45,000 spectators flocked to the Race Village over the event as Larson and his team of Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth, James Wierzbowski and Nasser Al Mashari, took their third Act win of the Series, and with four Acts to go this year, they are the team to beat.

Next stop is St Petersburg, Russia from the 1-4 September as the fleet launch into the second half of the season.

Standings after Day 4: (17 races)

1st Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 188pts
2nd Alinghi (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Timothé Lapauw, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 187pts
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Jérémy Bachelin, Adam Piggott, Brad Farrand 166pts
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Mads Emil Stephensen, Pierluigi De Felice, Renato Conde 166pts
5th CHINA One (CHN) Taylor Canfield, Chris Steele, Hayden Goodrick, Dan Morris, Fredrik Aurell 157pts
6th Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira (POR) Diogo Cayolla, Luís Brito, João Matos Rosa, Nuno Barreto, Frederico Mello 149pts
7th Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Neil Hunter, Will Alloway, Adam Kay, Oli Greber, Elliot Hanson 121pts

Extreme Sailing Series™ 2016 Standings:

1st Oman Air (OMA) 47pts
2nd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 42pts
3rd Alinghi (SUI) 41pts
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 34pts
5th Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) 31pts
6th CHINA One (CHN) 29pts
7th Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira (POR) 27pts
8th Team Turx (TUR) 11pts

Oman Air wins Extreme Sailing Series Hamburg in a cliff hanger finale (from Oman Sail)

A nail-biting final day, waiting for breeze then trying to outmanoeuvre closest rival Alinghi, ended in a breathless victory for Oman Air in the Extreme Sailing Series in Hamburg which earned them their third Act win of the 2016 series.

When Alinghi crossed the finish line in third place, Morgan Larson and his crew were trailing in fifth place needing to make sure they held that position to the end to earn the Hamburg win.

If they dropped to sixth, they would have handed victory to the Swiss but with merely a puff behind them, Oman Air drifted over the line ahead of last placed Land Rover BAR to make certain of earning maximum points for the Hamburg Act, clinching it by a single point.

The light airs forecast turned into a frustrating reality for the fleet who kept focussed with three exhibition races with no points on offer but eventually, race officers were able to lay a course in the busy River Elbe for the final double points decider.

"We knew that if Alinghi put three boats between us, they would beat us," explained skipper Larson.

"We had some different strategies but the wind came and went and Alinghi really used the shore for protection and got a nice wind shift and there they were, three boats ahead for the whole race.

"At one stage it looked like we would be last in the race but some good sailing on the final leg gave us the chance that we needed.

"It is a great feeling to have won because it is a challenging venue and today we really felt the pressure of waiting for a race and knowing that patience would prevail.

"We got a good jump early in the event but Alinghi sailed a spectacular day yesterday and put pressure on us. We knew it would be hard to defend our lead so it feels great to have won. It is finally sinking in that we won and it feels great."

It was a nerve-racking day added Nasser Al Mashari, Oman Air's bowman.

"We are very happy and proud but it was a tough last day," he said.

"When at last we got one race in, we tried our best to stay with Alinghi and it was hard but eventually we won the event by a point so we are very happy!"

The next Act will see Larson, Pete Greenhalgh and Al Mashari reunited with Ed Smyth and James Wierzbowski in St Petersburg from Monday September 1 to Thursday September 4, with conditions on the Neva River set to give all the crews more challenges as they get to grips with winds and tides on another small city centre race course.

"This has been good training for St Petersburg because it is similar current similar sized venue and we will see a lot of the same," added Larson.

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