Great beginning on Neva
Day one of racing in St. Petersburg is now in the bag; and what a great one for SAP Extreme Sailing Team. The Team won three out of seven races, and ended the day on top of the leaderboard.
Following yesterdays hair-raising practice session, today the River Neva showed a milder side, with an average wind speed of 8-10kts. Lighter breeze meant no less pressure on the GC32 crews, who all pushed hard to wrangle their foiling machines around this tightest and trickiest of racecourses. Due to the limited space available, the usual reaching starts were traded out for more traditional upwind starts. The practice day showed that some advantage could be gained from starting cleanly at the boat end of the line. Perhaps even more crucially though, the boats that rounded the first mark cleanly, and foiled early were rewarded with massive gains. With the help of coach Michael Hestbæk the Team honed their mark rounding manoeuvres, and were rewarded today as they established a lead of over 270 metres in the fourth race.
The day began well as SAP Extreme Sailing Team secured a well-earned first place in the first race. The Team consolidated their early victory with a further two race wins, and ultimately ended the day in first position. It wouldn’t be the Extreme Sailing Series if the day was completely without drama; two potentially costly premature starts threatened to knock the Team out of pole position, but the team fought hard and finished mid-fleet in both races.
Although the team are pleased with their performance today, they are under no illusion that the road to the final race day on Sunday will be easy. Both Alinghi and Oman Air, are in good form, and the first and third place on the leaderboard are separated by only two points. Skipper Jes Gram-Hansen reflected “It just shows the level of all the teams here; that you can win but you can also lose and the line between the two is extremely thin. The team is strong and we’re getting more and more comfortable with the boat, but it will probably come down to the last day and the notorious double-points final race.”
Based on past experience we can see why Jes might think that!