Seizing the first rising winds of a becalmed second stop of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series, two-time America’s Cup winner Alinghi secured their first regatta win of the season in front of 12,000 spectators in Qingdao (China) on Monday. Oman Air took the second spot on the podium, with the Red Bull Sailing Team finishing third.
After three days of uncharacteristically weak wind, a steadier breeze of 8 to 10 knots greeted the teams of the Extreme Sailing Series in Qingdao, China on Monday, and in a tussle for the top, Switzerland’s Alinghi, under skipper Arnaud Psarofaghis, pulled off the win, defeating an Oman Air team helmed by Morgan Larson that gave their all despite a broken jib in race four. Happy to be up on the foils of the new GC32 catamarans for the first time all weekend, two-time Olympic champion Roman Hagara led the Red Bull Sailing Team to four podiums including one win across the day’s races, for third place in the regatta.
Qingdao’s podium finishers are in a tight battle for the top of the overall standings after two stops of the eight-regatta season: Oman Air, who won the March opener in Muscat, clings to the top of the leaderboard with 23 points, just two ticks ahead of Alinghi and the Red Bull Sailing Team, who are tied at 21.
While the meager wind was the best of the four-day event, even Monday’s climax wasn’t without its weather woes, as a thick fog descended on the stadium among Qingdao’s skyscrapers, making it too dangerous to approach the 75 km/h the cutting-edge GC32s are capable of. As a result, the final race – worth double points – was not able to start.
“You couldn’t even see your own hands out there,” said Hagara, who seemed nonetheless pleased with a good result at a location where his team has been plagued with crashes and mishaps in the past.
Land Rover BAR, who had been early leaders in the regatta, finished fourth, with SAP Extreme Sailing Team in fifth, Sail Portugal in sixth, and China’s new One team in seventh ahead of Team Turx.
The foils will get their next chance to fly when the Extreme Sailing Series stops in Cardiff, Wales June 23–26.
Final China results after 18 races: 1. Alinghi / SUI 187 points, 2. Oman Air / Oman 181, 3. Red Bull Sailing / AUT 166, 4. LR Ben Ainslie Racing / GBR 162, 5. SAP Extreme Sailing / DEN 156, 6. Sail Portugal / POR 156, 7. China ONE / CHI 146, 8. Team Turx / TUR 138
Thanks to Red Bull Content Pool for the pictures.