All or nothing – a nail-biting end to Extreme Sailing Series™ Qingdao as SAP Extreme Sailing Team take maiden Act win - SAP Extreme Sailing Team, The Wave Muscat, Gazprom Team Russia on stage in Qingdao
The Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 3, Qingdao came to a nail-biting conclusion today, as SAP Extreme Sailing Team took their first ever Act win – and just for good measure, they scooped the Land Rover Above and Beyond Award for their outstanding performance as a team in China.
After two days racing in dense fog, Danish co-skippers Jes Gram-Hansen and Rasmus Køstner were dominating the Act, and had a 23-point lead going into the final day. However, Qingdao was not going to let the Danes run away with the lead that easily.
For the grand final, blue skies and a complete 180-degree wind shift greeted the teams, blowing from the north and shooting bullets of breeze (anything from 3-20 knots) through the city skyline and hitting the racecourse at unpredictable angles.
The change in conditions looked to have set the leaders off their pace, but the Danish were able to capitalise on their outstanding performance over the three days of racing – that included 14 podiums, 5 race wins – to keep the chasing pack at bay. “It was fantastic for us to win our first Act, something that we have wanted to do for a long time and have been very close to doing a few times but today it finally came together,” explained a visibly thrilled Jes Gram Hansen before stepping on stage, “We are proud to represent our country and also proud to win here because we have received a lot of support, not least from SAP, but also from friends and family back home, which is just fantastic.”
In the chasing pack the battle was on for the remaining podium positions, between The Wave, Muscat and Gazprom Team Russia – and the deciding moment came in the final race. Needing to keep a four-boat gap on leaders SAP Extreme Sailing Team, the young Russians had the Act win in their reach but a penalty at the windward mark cost them not only the Act but second place too – Phil Robertson, Igor Lisovenko and the team settling for a hugely admirable third place – their first podium position since joining the circuit. “We feel a bit unlucky, but clearly stoked with third overall,” explained Robertson. “It’s a big step for the team, especially coming out of Oman when it wasn’t our best event. We took a lot away from that Act, put it into play and got way better every day here. So the boys are very happy.”
A win in the final double point race put Leigh McMillan’s The Wave, Muscat in second overall, with Red Bull Sailing Team significantly finishing in fourth, seeing a shake up on the Series rankings – SAP Extreme Sailing Team now striding ahead with 28 points, The Wave, Muscat in second on 27 and Red Bull Sailing Team in third, with 25.
The 2015 Extreme Sailing Series now heads for the UK for Act 4, Cardiff presented by Land Rover, 18-21-June, as the Series approaches the mid way point on the eight Act global tour.
Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 3, Qingdao standings after Day 4, 22 races (03.05.15)
Position / Team / Points
1st SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Mads Emil Stephensen, Brad Farrand 178 points.
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 166 points.
3rd Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Alexander Bozhko, Aleksey Kulakov 162 points.
4th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Hans Peter Steinacher, Jason Waterhouse, Josh McKnight, Shaun Mason, Stewart Dodson 156 points.
5th Team Turx powered by Kaya Ropes (TUR) Edhem Dirvana, Mitch Booth, Selim K
6th Oman Air (OMA) Stevie Morrison, Nic Asher, Ted Hackney, Ed Powys, Ali Al Balashi 115 points.
7th GAC Pindar (GBR) Seve Jarvin, Jack Macartney, Marcus Ashley-Jones, Tyson Lamond, James Wierzbowski 109 points.
8th Team Extreme Qingdao (CHN) Jonas Warrer, Cheng Ying Kit, Aaron Cooper, Liu Ming, Kong Chengcheng 104 points.
9th Lino Sonego Team Italia (ITA) Lorenzo Bressani, Enrico Zennaro, Andrea Tesei, Tom Buggy, Stefano Rizzi 104 points.
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2015 overall standings
Position / Team / Points
1st SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 28 points.
2nd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 27 points.
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 25 points.
4th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 18 points.
5th Oman Air (OMA) 18 points.
6th Team Turx powered by Kaya Ropes (TUR) 15 points.
7th GAC Pindar (AUS) 14 points.
8th Lino Songeo Team Italia (ITA) 11 points.
Photo : © Mark Lloyd Images