The fifth act of the Extreme Sailing Series in Porto has delivered the ultimate challenge in Stadium Racing for the eight international teams competing this week, with a narrow river, high walls, strong tides, big rocks and gusty winds to contend with. After 30 races it came down to the wire between The Wave, Muscat and Alinghi in the final double pointer with just three points separating two of the most experienced teams on the circuit. Impeccable boat handling from McMillan and a win in the final race – their tenth of the Act - ultimately saw the Omani flagged team claim a deserved win who have been unflappable this week having led the charge since race eight.
The Wave, Muscat - 2013 Extreme Sailing Series Act 5
Porto is third Act win this season for McMillan and his crew Peter Greenhalgh, Hashim al Rashidi, Musab al Hadi and Ed Smyth following victories in Oman and Qingdao which significantly leaves them tied on points with Alinghi at the top of the overall Series leaderboard. An ecstatic McMillan, whose celebratory cheers could be heard from the shore, talked through his race winning tactics: 'Alinghi were right there behind us on the first lap. We had the conversation as to whether we should just cover them the whole race, but we saw the pressure was looking better, we let them split and it worked out better for us and we extended our lead, and from there on we didn't have to worry about them for the rest of the race. We managed to get a good start, managed to get our noses out and that's what it came down to in that last race.'
Morgan Larson, who has taken the helm from regular skipper and owner Ernesto Bertarelli this week, kept the pressure on The Wave, Muscat until the end, and although understandably disappointed not to have won the Act, Larson has already shifted his focus to the next stop of the global tour in Cardiff, Wales. 'We like putting pressure on The Wave, Muscat and unfortunately it didn’t pay off for us here in Porto. It's been a great place to sail and the team have worked really well together, I can’t ask any more from what the guys are doing. Alinghi are a great team and it's really nice to be part of it. It really could have gone either way today. In Cardiff we will have to do a better job.'
The Wave, Muscat - Act 5 Extreme Sailing Series 2013
Always in contention and pushing the top teams hard was Pierre Pennec, who returned to the Series at the helm of Realteam for this Act. Pennec – who is known to be one of the most daring sailors in the Series – has lost none of his edge, and pushed the Realteam Extreme 40 hard around the course to help the team to their first ever podium position. 'Our objective for this event was to reach the podium, so it was a great result for the team! The most important factor is the crew engagement, good communication onboard and technically we progressed a lot over the week which is really good looking ahead to the future of the team. It's great to be back racing in the circuit, and from today anything is possible!'.
The battle mid-fleet was equally as tense between SAP Extreme Sailing Team and Red Bull Sailing Team who went into the final double-pointer tied on points. The Danish managed to muster a third place in the final race where the Austrians couldn’t do better then eighth, leaving SAP Extreme Sailing Team in fourth overall, as Jes Gram Hansen, the team’s co-skipper and helm explained: 'We have been more or less tied up with Red Bull Sailing Team all week. It’s tough to be consistent on this racecourse so we are happy that we can battle with Red Bull who are very experienced on this circuit and that we can beat them. It has been a really challenging week - you can have a game plan here in Porto but you need to be able to make some quick changes to it! We really like this racecourse.'
The fresh faces on the circuit ROFF Cascais Sailing Team and Team Tilt have had the ultimate Stadium Racing baptism of fire in Porto, with both teams steadily improving throughout the week and showing that at times they can mix it up with the more experienced players in the top half of the fleet. The local boys ROFF Cascais Sailing Team were spurred on by the home support today and have relished their first Extreme 40 foray, with skipper Antonio Mello saying after racing: 'It was an amazing experience with really great racing and we just enjoyed it a lot. It will be difficult to go back to our normal sailing now! We are really happy with the performance we gave here. We had some very good starts throughout the whole day and although conditions were difficult at times, we still finished races in the top three and in the double points race we finished second which was very good for us and also for our home crowd.'
The Kiwi contingent on GAC Pindar took a while to find their feet in the challenging Portuguese stadium, but saved their best to last managing a win in the final day, wrapping up the Act in sixth place.
Porto has earned itself a reputation as a stadium like no other with challenging sailing, crowds and the competitors of the NeilPryde Racing Series keeping the on-water action coming. With four Acts complete and four Acts to go, the Series is at its halfway stage and next heads to the Welsh capital Cardiff over the August bank holiday weekend where they will be hosted by the Cardiff Harbour Festival, 23-26 August.
Extreme Sailing Series 2013 Act 5, Porto standings after Day 4, 30 races (28.7.13)
Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Ed Smyth, Pete Greenhalgh, Musab Al Hadi, Hashim Al Rashdi 248 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Ben Lezin, Pierre Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 235 points.
3rd Realteam (SUI) Pierre Pennec, Bryan Mettraux, Nils Palmieri, Cédric Schmidt, Thierry Wassem 223 points.
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Pete Cumming, Mikkel Røssberg, Nicolai Sehested 214 points.
5th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Matthew Adams, Simon Cooke, Graeme Spence 204 points.
6th GAC Pindar (NZL) Will Tiller, Brad Farrand, Stewart Dodson, Harry Thurston, Shaun Mason 173 points.
7th ROFF Cascais Sailing Team (POR) António Mello, Bernardo Freitas, João Mello, Ricardo Schedel, João Matos Rosa 156 points.
8th Team Tilt (SUI) Lucien Cujean, Jocelyn Keller, Jeremy Bachelin, Thomas Mermod, Lionel Vaucher 156 points.
Extreme Sailing Series 2013 overall standings after Act 5, Porto
Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 36 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) 36 points.
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 30 points.
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 27 points.
5th Realteam (SUI) 22 points.
6th GAC Pindar (NZL) 21 points.
7th Team X Invitational 17 points.
8th Team Korea (KOR) 16 points.
Extreme Sailing Series