In conditions as soggy but not as blowy as predicted, fortunes swung one way and then another as Oman’s The Wave, Muscat won the fifth event of eight in the 2014, taking the Cardiff title in the Extreme Sailing Series.
For the hardy souls seeking spectator shelter in what used to be known as Tiger Bay their reward was to see a claws out defending champion The Wave and 2014 series leader Switzerland’s Alinghi laying into each other, the lead changing hands as the rain dried up and the wind piped up. And all the time Ben Ainslie’s J.P.Morgan was making steady progress, narrowing the points gap from a solid third place.
That became second on points, equal with Alinghi going into the 33 and final race, scoring double points and staged, remarkably, in shafts of sunshine and sail reduced as a precaution against any threatening gusts. It was a bizarre affair.
All three were trying to keep close control of each other, there was a pile-up at the top mark which saw all three take penalty turns, Ben for hitting the mark, the other two caught on the wrong side of a right of way decision by the umpires. They were the last three to finish the race with Leigh McMillan last of all. But it was enough to win the regatta.
“It was touch and go and the final race didn’t go the way we planned it,” said McMillan. “We had to mix it up with Alinghi and it turned into a three-way match race, but that worked well for us.”
Said Ben Ainslie, with a crew in which he saluted “stand-out performances” by new tactician Paul Campbell-James and local young talent Bleddyn Mon: “We have been catching up all season, so we were absolutely delighted to be battling it out with The Wave and Alinghi.”
It means that Alinghi hangs on to its overall lead with 47 points but the lead over The Wave has been narrowed to two points. “It’s all very close and we now have to try and claw back more points in Istanbul and Nice and go into the final regatta of the year in Sydney with a chance to win our third title,” said McMillan.
1 - The Wave, Muscat 210
2 – Alinghi 205
3 - J.P. Morgan BAR 203
4 - Red Bull 186
5 – Realteam 182
6 - Oman Air 175
7 – SAP 174
8 - Team Russia 154
9 – Groupama 154
10 - GAC Pindar 153
11 – ETNZ 151