Three wins from eight races on the third day of the Extreme Sailing Series in Muscat pushed Ben Ainslie’s J.P.Morgan/BAR team from sixth up to fourth on the overall table, just five points short of a top three slot.
Another day of ups and downs saw Morgan Larson, at the helm of Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi start well but at times having to hang on to the top spot after 21 races so far. He went into the host al Mouj golf clubhouse just four points clear of a steadily improving Jes Gram-Hansen on SAP while Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand came off the snakes and ladders board unsettled by erratic performances still in third.
But the 2013 champion, Leigh McMillan saw his The Wave slip to fifth, 14 points behind McMillan and needing to drag more consistency out of a crew that contains British Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ayton on the final day.
It could all come down to the last race, which counts double points, as any of those top five could win and even the chasing group, headed by Franck Cammas’ Groupama could make rapid progress in conditions which have been dominated by light winds.
Ainslie’s tactician, and 2004 Olympic champion, Paul ‘Goodie’ Goodison says he is ready for the final battle. “I’m pretty surprised we’re as close to the leaders as we are, but it’s really good,” he said. “It means there’s still a lot to play for and, if we keep improving like we have done the last three days, we should be doing alright.”
Extreme Sailing Series 2014 Act 2, Muscat standings after Day 3, 21 races
1st Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 132 pts
2nd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Peter Wibroe, Nicolai Sehested 128 pts
3rd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker, Glenn Ashby, James Dagg, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 127 pts
4th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Pippa Wilson, Matt Cornwell 122 pts
5th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 118 pts
6th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Sophie de Turckheim, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 105 pts
7th Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wassem, Nils Palmieri 102 pts
8th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Paul Campbell-James, Alister Richardson, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 99 pts
9th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Nick Blackman, Stewart Dodson 96 pts
10th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Tom Johnson, Will Howden, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 88 pts
11th GAC Pindar (AUS) Seve Jarvin, Troy Tindill, Ed Smyth, Sam Newton, David Gilmour 59 pts