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Alinghi continues winning form to extend lead on penultimate day of Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 8

by Extreme Sailing Series 3 Dec 2017 08:20 GMT 30 November - 3 December 2017
Alinghi stole the show for the second day running to extend its lead in the standings at Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 8, Los Cabos, presented by SAP. © Lloyd Images

Alinghi stole the show for the second day running to extend its lead in the standings at Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 8, Los Cabos, presented by SAP, but crucially SAP Extreme Sailing Team retained the podium position that is the key to it taking the overall 2017 victory when the season draws to a close tomorrow.

While the battle for the Act and season glory raged between the three contenders, local wildcard Team Extreme México celebrated a moment of glory with a second-place finish, its first ever podium.

Aside from an uncharacteristic hiccup in the opening race, which saw SAP Extreme Sailing Team pull off a dramatic recovery from a disastrous start to bag a bullet and Alinghi end up at the back of the fleet, the Swiss managed to keep a clean scorecard.

"Our first race was very bad but that's where we turned the day around and went for straight wins, which was a great way to end the day," said the helm of Swiss-flagged Alinghi, Arnaud Psarofaghis.

"We have a fight with SAP Extreme Sailing Team to win the season now. The first thing is to win this event but the most important thing to do is to go out there and enjoy the last day of racing of the year tomorrow," added Psarofaghis.

Team Extreme México stole the limelight from the Swiss in race 16, closely following them across the line in second place to a standing ovation from the spectators on the shore. The feat is especially impressive considering the fact that the home-team competes this week as a freshly formed crew with just two days of practice. For several of the sailors this is their first time on the foiling GC32.

"Today was just amazing. We had a race where we finished second and it was a great fight with SAP Extreme Sailing Team around the course, so that made it even more fun," said an ecstatic skipper, Erik Brockmann, whose team sits in seventh.

"We could hear the home crowds cheering. It was really nice to have the finish close to the shore. We came into the day really motivated to try and get some good races and I think the day went pretty well," he added.

Unfazed by Alinghi's two-day winning streak, SAP Extreme Sailing Team helm Adam Minoprio remains confident that his team can still win the Act, as well as the 2017 season.

"It wasn't too bad a day. We stayed in a good place, kept Red Bull Sailing Team a good distance behind and kept Oman Air close, but unfortunately Alinghi got a little bit away on us and they have a 16-point lead," said Minoprio.

"With potentially six more races tomorrow and double-points in the last race we can definitely close that gap up. Tomorrow is all to play for, for winning this event," he added.

Despite suffering a seventh-place finish, Oman Air remains in second: four points clear of SAP Extreme Sailing Team and within reach of leader Alinghi.

"We were going alright; the averages weren't too bad. We got a few keepers and had a not-so-good race but, other than that, not a bad day," said skipper Phil Robertson. "It's all on tomorrow. The last day of the year and everyone's going to come out with gloves off. Alinghi seems to be sailing very well but hopefully they have a stinker."

A respectable performance from Red Bull Sailing Team saw it claim four podiums, including two second-place finishes. The Austrian squad remains in fourth, ahead of NZ Extreme Sailing Team in fifth.

US-flagged Lupe Tortilla Demetrio, the second wildcard to compete in the Act, sits bottom of the table but skipper John Tomko is confident his team is taking steps forward.

"The weather has co-operated; it's a great venue with flat water and it's a lot of fun here," said Tomko. "We have moments when we're in the pack and then in the next race we're at the back, so we're still trying to figure it out, but we're definitely getting better with the boat handling."

Tomorrow marks the final day of the 2017 season on which both the double-points Act 8 winner and the overall champion will be decided. The GC32s will race from 14:00 – 17:00 UTC-7, with the action streamed live on Facebook and YouTube. For more information about the event visit the official event page.

Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 8, Los Cabos, presented by SAP standings after Day 3, 17 races (02.12.17)

Position / Team / Points

  1. Alinghi (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Timothé Lapauw, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 184 points.
  2. Oman Air (OMA) Phil Robertson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 172 points.
  3. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Rasmus Køstner, Adam Minoprio, Mads Emil Stephensen, Pierluigi de Felice, Richard Mason 168 points.
  4. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Stewart Dodson, Adam Piggott, Will Tiller 156 points.
  5. NZ Extreme Sailing Team (NZL) Graeme Sutherland, Josh Junior, Harry Hull, Andy Maloney, Josh Salthouse 135 points.
  6. Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Rob Bunce, Giles Scott, Oli Greber, Sam Batten, Matt Brushwood 126 points.
  7. Team Extreme México (MEX) Erik Brockmann, Chris Taylor, Alex Higby, Tom Buggy, Danel Belausteguigoitia Fierro, Armando Noriega Negrete 116 points.
  8. Lupe Tortilla Demetrio (USA) John Tomko, Jonathan Atwood, Matthew Whitehead, Tripp Burd, Trevor Burd 99 points.

The Oman Air crew maintained their second place on the leaderboard as the Extreme Sailing Series headed into its final day showdown in Mexico. (from Oman Sail)

A further day of changeable conditions in Los Cabos produced some dramatic highs and lows which saw all three of the leading teams post mixed results in the competitive fleet of high-speed foiling catamarans.

Oman Air in fact went back to the top of the leaderboard thanks to their second place in the day’s first race and the previous day’s multiple winner Alinghi finishing in an unexpected last position.

However, the defending Swiss champions bounced back with another string of race victories at the Mexican resort venue to hold a 12-point lead over Oman Air after three of four days, with overall season leaders SAP Extreme Sailing Team a further four points back.

Oman Air’s experienced crew of Phil Robertson, Nasser Al Mashari, Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth and James Wierzbowski remain clear-eyed about their objective.

“We are shooting for the top spot and goal number one for us is to beat Alinghi and win the event,” said Greenhalgh, a veteran and previous winner of the Extreme Sailing Series.

“That’s going to be the focus tomorrow - we are looking to do our own thing, go out and have a good day, hopefully win the event and see how it unfolds behind us.”

And he added: “Having Alinghi 12 points ahead of us is significant, but they were six ahead this morning and that disappeared in one race. So tomorrow there is the double-points race and we will probably get more races in, so it will be all on.”

Al Mashari, another veteran of the globe-trotting series that began the 2017 season in Muscat way back in March, shares a similar view: “The boat is going well and we are sailing well, hopefully our time will come tomorrow, the final day of the Los Cabos Act and the whole season.

“Today was another very tricky day and at times we sailed really well, but Alinghi were sailing exceptionally well. Spirits are good, the team is happy – we just need a few more things to go our way.”

A win at the Los Cabos Act would seal at least second place in the overall season for Oman Air. For Robertson’s crew to win the 2017 Extreme Sailing Series title season leaders SAP, currently third in Mexico, would have to be pushed down to fourth place. Red Bull Sailing Team, the only realistic candidates for the task, have a 12 point deficit to overcome.