Saturday, December 12, 2009

Drama on the Extreme 40 racecourse in Singapore

[Source: Extreme Sailing Series] Rudders up .... bows down ..... There was real drama on the racecourses here in Singapore today as four boats nearly capsized as the gusty winds took the six-boat fleet by surprise.

For Rumbo Almeria it was a busy day - this morning they had taken former record holder and Olympic 4x100m Gold medallist Asafa Powell sailing onboard their Extreme 40 and then this afternoon were clinging on to the trampoline as they desperately strived to keep their boat from capsizing.

Bowman Steve Mitchell picks up the story, "We were on the second reach of a triangle course, it was a pretty tight leg we had a big puff and the boat was tipping up, tipping up.....

"I had gone to leeward, we had furled the spinnaker and I was pulling it down and the only thing I could see was a construction site coming at me really pretty quickly! I had my ankles in the water, the bow was fully under and I could hear Nick [Hutton] shouting, 'We're going down, we're going down'. So I just turned, left the spinnaker and ran to the high side. I am pretty glad I had studs in the bottom of my shoes to get to get up the trampoline to join everyone hanging on to the top corner! And she finally popped out and came back down again and off we went again. We weren't expecting that here! It mixes it up and keeps us on our toes for sure!"

The Wave, Muscat, Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team and CHINA TEAM were all sailing on the edge of their comfort zones as they each battled to keep their Extreme 40 the right way up as the wind channelled between the buildings in gusts of up to 16 knots.

Local sailor, Tan Wearn Haw, from Singapore onboard CHINA TEAM was buzzing as he stepped onto the dock. "So we have seen how wrong things can go in a moment, we almost flipped the boat today!" he grinned. "It was in the third race, it was interesting we were just on the edge, everything could have gone pear-shaped we were like "WOAH!". We had Adam jumping on the dagger-board, so it was good that he ate lots of supper last night to give him an extra kilo weight!

"We had two shots of gusts that just hit us over the breakwater and we couldn't quite respond to it so ah well, a lot learnt today! It was so quiet onboard as we all wondered if we were going to go over and then suddenly we were all shouting! We told the fifth man we don't do this every day - Hugh [Styles - helm] said he's sailed these boats for three years and it is the closest he has ever come to capsizing."

There were five races today exploring every inch of the Marina Reservoir race area with the teams being challenged by the unpredictable winds as it channelled between the buildings.

Hans-Peter Steinacher, tactician onboard Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team was pleased with this second day of racing, "What a perfect day - we are really enjoying sailing in Singapore. Good wind conditions and even these short races are quite funny and it is very physical, it is unbelievalbe, we are nearly on the limit. It was good today that we only had five races because otherwise the two guys at the front of the boat are exhausted, the crashes start coming and just wouldn't be able to cope. Even the speed races are fun. It's great here!"

Provisional standings at the end of the second day saw the fleet which was tied yesterday with four boats at the top of the leaderboard, start to spread out with the European Champions and winners of the first round in Hong Kong, Oman Sail's Masirah lead Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team by two points, ahead of BT by another two points. CHINA TEAM sits in fourth place, just one point ahead of The Wave, Muscat with Rumbo Almeria in sixth.

More high-octane action continues tomorrow, Sunday 13th December from 2pm.

Standings after Day 2:
1. Oman Sail Masirah: 45
2. Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team: 43
3. BT: 41
5. The Wave, Muscat: 38
6. Rumbo Almeria: 26

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