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Oman Air sneak early Hamburg lead despite a bump on the nose

Hamburg’s River Elbe in the HafenCity area was transformed into the ultimate test in Stadium Racing today, with the narrow river, passing traffic, high walls, shifty light winds and strong currents challenging the fleet on the opening day of the Extreme Sailing Series™.

The wind gods in Hamburg served up a gripping rather than gruelling light airs challenge with the finely tuned teams of world-class sailors battling for the finest of advantages.

But the light airs didn’t fail to dampen the competitiveness on the water where Oman Air won both of the races – despite sailing into the wall.

“I don’t really now what happened,” explained skipper and Extreme Sailing Series ace Morgan Larson. “We were trying to get the inside position on the start line, and it felt like we were ready to make a nice tack and the boat just didn’t turn and the current got hold of us.

“There is plenty happening, the wind, the tide, it pays to be a bit more conservative. I’m pretty happy to sneak away with two wins.”

In what proved to be a test of tactics and patience, the experienced stadium racers onboard Red Bull Sailing Team and Alinghi managed to keep the gas on and their concentration up to finish the day tied in second place on 19 points.

The Double Olympic gold medallist and skipper of Red Bull Sailing Team Roman Hagara summed up a difficult day. “There are lots of factors to contend with here, but the biggest thing is the breeze which changes so much – the strength and the direction. It is pretty hard to set up for the start so we’re pretty happy to take a second place in one of the races.”

SAP Extreme Sailing Team and CHINA One both took a podium each, and are tied on 18 points, while the newly named Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira finish in sixth place – their skipper Diogo Cayolla conscious that with more breeze forecast tomorrow, his crew must avoid getting lulled into a false sense of security by today’s lighter conditions.

“As soon as the breeze fills in on this narrow racecourse, it becomes a totally different story. There’s little space so the manoeuvres will be much faster, our boat handling will need to be much more slick.

“Today, for us wasn’t too bad, as it was our first time racing as an all Portuguese team and it’s good practice for us to get our flow before the wind comes in tomorrow.”

Running a full youth team for the first time, Land Rover BAR Academy continue their steep learning curve, as they get to grips with both a new breed of boat, and the stadium style of racing the Extreme Sailing Series is renowned for.

Racing continues tomorrow at 1400 GMT+2 with a stronger breeze expected.

Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 4, Hamburg standings after Day 1, 2 races (28.07.16)
Position / Team / Points
1st Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 24 points.
2nd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Jérémy Bachelin, Adam Piggott, Brad Farrand 19 points.
3rd Alinghi (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Timothé Lapauw, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 19 points.
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Mads Emil Stephensen, Pierluigi De Felice, Renato Conde 18 points.
5th CHINA One (CHN) Taylor Canfield, Chris Steele, Hayden Goodrick, Dan Morris, Frederik Aurell 18 points.
6th Sail Portugal - Visit Madeira (POR) Diogo Cayolla, Luís Brito, João Matos Rosa, Nuno Barreto, Frederico Mello 16 points.
7th Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Neil Hunter, Owen Bowerman, Will Alloway, Rob Bunce, Adam Kay 12 points.