Anna Tunnicliffe: Lining up in Qingdao for the Extreme 40's Day 1

The Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series 2014. Act 3, Qingdao . China. "The Double Star Mingren Cup"
© Lloyd Images
These days, twice Rolex Sailor of the Year and Olympic Gold medalist, Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) alternates between sailing aboard Alinghi in the Extreme Sailing Series, and chasing a serious ranking in the world of CrossFit.

She reports in from Qingdao, China after Day 1 of the Extreme Sailing Series, sailing as tactician aboard Alinghi

May 1, 2014
Qingdao, China

We had eight great races this afternoon, leaving us on top of the leaderboard after today's racing. The conditions were light and the current was ripping, but the team pulled off some great starts finishing with 3 first places, a second, third, fourth and two sixth places.

We opened up the day with a race win. We talked about our strategy for the race and were able to execute the start we wanted. Shortly after the start, we hear a massive crunch behind us; there was a big collision between two boats, forcing one of them, Oman Air, back ashore for the day to have the hole repaired. The other boat, GAC Pindar, took a starting penalty in the next race for the incident.

Anna Tunnicliffe - combining CrossFit with sailing
All day today around the race course, the boys onboard were able to sail the boat smooth and fast, and the communication between Morgan, me and the rest of the team seemed to flow pretty smoothly. The big key to today's races was starting well. We had some excellent starts just going for a clean lane off the line and heading out to the left hand side of the course. That was where there was significant relief from the current; much needed in the light 5-7kts of breeze we had.

Although our scoreline reflects a good performance overall, we did have a couple of mishaps today which cost us points, but we were able to fight back and scoop up as many points as we could for the scoreboard.

In race 2 of the day, we started a little farther down the line, and after the fleet had flushed itself out, there were four of us heading to the wall. The way the course was set up, you could get to the layline for the top mark just before the wall, but the leeward boat would end up having to figure out how to navigate through starboard tackers as they generally were the first ones that had to tack. We ended up being the third boat up from the wall, with the fourth boat up on our hip. There was a good distance between us and we felt that we were able to make a clean cross on them when we tacked to port. Unfortunately, the umpires saw it differently and after looking as though we were going to be in third place heading into the top mark, we ended up having to do a tack penalty. In this case, it meant that we had to do two tacks immediately. We were already on layline, so tacking back to starboard away from the mark and then back to port, in 6kts was a costly maneuver. We kept our cool and were able to pull it off quite quickly and still rounded ahead of two boats. Downwind, we gybed in a good place, away from other boats, and were able to pass two more by the bottom of the course. In the final lap of the race we picked up two more boats giving us 6th place overall in the race.

Our other bummer race was the last race of the day. We had a not-so-hot start after being caught rather far behind the line at acceleration time. But, we acted quickly and got ourselves into clean air. We were the second boat down from the committee boat end of the line. We were pinched off by the boat below us and the boat to windward was well on its way to rolling us, basically we were being spat out the back. We made the call and got ourselves out onto port tack immediately, separated from the fleet by a few lengths and then came back on starboard as fast as we could, again heading to the left side of the course. Our plan worked out pretty well as we ended up actually being able to tack on layline in front of the boat that rolled us off the start line. Again, from what looked like a potential disaster, we were able to pick up one or two boats to keep our score to a 6th, and not worse.

Tomorrow is calling for big breeze. With the format moving into stadium-style racing tomorrow, and the wind shifting to a bit more offshore, it will make for some close, exciting races. And I must admit, after laying on the bow of the boat for the better part of today's racing, I'm pretty excited to hike and pull some lines tomorrow!!

And lastly for today, even though there isn't a CrossFit box nearby in Qingdao, I have been able to keep my wodding going, taking over the hotel gym. It's quite amusing looking at the expressions on the other hotel guests' faces as they walk in and see me practicing muscle ups, doing Oly lifts, and just being a sweaty mess in this tiny gym..but oh well! :)

Latest race updates and news can be found on the Extreme Sailing Series website: http://www.extremesailingseries.com

Sail Hard,

Anna

4D's: Dream;Desire;Dedication;Determination SM
3P's: Passion...Progression…Perfection SM

You can follow Anna on her blog www.annatunnicliffe.com