Wildcards impress on Extreme Sailing Series™ debut
Extreme Sailing Series™ newcomers Norauto and Thalassa Magenta Racing made their intentions for Act 7 clear today as the penultimate stage of the global Stadium Racing tour got underway in Lisbon.
With the sun shining down on the beautiful blue waters of the River Tagus, Portugal’s capital city provided the perfect setting as the battle between the nine world-class crews restarted less than two weeks after Act 6 in the Madeira Islands.
Joining the stellar line-up for the first time were French-flagged Norauto powered by Groupama Team France and Thalassa Magenta Racing, the Extreme Sailing Series’ first all-female crew. Brad Funk’s Vega Racing completed the list of wildcard entries, returning to action after making their Extreme Sailing Series debut in Madeira last month.
Norauto wasted no time in showing the fleet what they were capable of, claiming the runners-up spot in the opening race. The team, led by New Zealander Adam Minoprio, followed up with three more podium finishes in five light-airs races to end the day in second place overall. Only Swiss team Alinghi bettered Norauto’s record, with two race wins and two seconds seeing them wrap up the day on top.
Minoprio, a former match racing world champion, said: “We’re very pleased with today’s results. We always knew it was going to be tough coming into a strong fleet, especially in lighter airs. We’ve had some good success previously on the GC32 Racing Tour but the Extreme Sailing Series fleet is very competitive so to come and be able to compete is good.
“I was pretty nervous about racing these guys but I’m pretty happy that we ended up putting in a solid performance. We’ve got our fingers crossed for a bit more wind so we can get foiling and improve some more.”
Despite ending the day one place above the bottom of the table, Thalassa Magenta Racing’s sailors came into the dock with huge grins on their faces after scoring a podium finish in what was only their second ever race together on a GC32. Led by former Olympian Sharon Ferris-Choat, the team includes some of the world’s best female sailors from all disciplines of sailing.
Ferris-Choat said the result not only settled a few opening day nerves but also proved the crew can compete at the highest level. “It was a huge day for us and Thalassa Magenta Racing,” said Ferris-Choat, who is racing under the Canadian flag.
“We were really anxious on the start line of the first race because it was something we’d never done before. Timing on the start is so critical in these boats and it can mean the difference between winning and losing so we played it a bit safe on the first race, but in race two we got in amongst it.
“Coming third in that race showed us mixing it up with the best of the best and proving to everyone that we can do it. Conditions were light and tricky but we sailed well. The anxiety levels going into tomorrow will be much less than they were today and we plan to sail smart and fast.”
Overall 2016 Extreme Sailing Series leaders Oman Air finished the opening day in third, just five points behind Alinghi, while Red Bull Sailing Team are six points further back in fourth. Home team Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira won the fourth race to the delight of the watching crowds to boost their overnight ranking to fifth, ahead of SAP Extreme Sailing Team, Vega Racing, Thalassa Magenta Racing and Land Rover BAR Academy.
The action resumes tomorrow at 1430 local time (GMT+1) and will include a longer coastal race alongside the usual high-octane short course Stadium Racing the Extreme Sailing Series is renowned for.
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 7, Lisbon standings after Day 1, five races (06.10.16)
Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Timothé Lapauw, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 55 points.
2nd NORAUTO (FRA) Adam Minoprio, Thibault Julien, Thierry Douillard, Matthieu Vandame, Nicolas Heintz 53 points.
3rd Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 50 points.
4th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Stewart Dodson, Adam Piggott, Brad Farrand 44 points.
5th Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira (POR) Diogo Cayolla, Frederico Mello, Nuno Barreto, Luís Brito, João Matos Rosa 39 points.
6th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Mads Emil Stephensen, Pierluigi De Felice, Renato Conde 32 points.
7th Vega Racing (USA) Brad Funk, Nick Thompson, Trevor Bund, Erick Rodriguez, Mac Agnese 30 points.
8th Thalassa Magenta Racing (CAN) Sharon Ferris-Choat, Sally Barkow, Hannah Diamond, Annie Lush, Mariana Lobato, Elodie Mettraux 29 points.
9th Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Neil Hunter, Chris Taylor, Elliot Hanson, Sam Batten, Rob Bunce 28 points.
by Extreme Sailing Series™