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Act 3 leaderboard compresses as Cardiff Bay delivers spectacular Stadium Racing

Cardiff Bay lived up to its reputation for delivering wet and wild racing today as it played host to some of the most exciting action of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™ so far.

With a feisty breeze of up to 25 knots blowing through the Welsh capital’s infamous stadium racecourse, the seven international teams were pushed to the limits on the second day of Act 3. Crowds packed the shore to watch the superfast foiling GC32 catamarans blast round the Bay at speeds of more than 30 knots in what was undoubtedly the closest racing this season.

Swiss stars Alinghi, Extreme Sailing Series champions in 2008 and 2014, emerged victors of the day notching up 60 points from a string of top results that included two race wins. But snapping at their heels with an impressive 59 points each were Oman Air, SAP Extreme Sailing Team and CHINA One.

The results see Oman Air, led by Extreme Sailing Series veteran Morgan Larson, retain their Act 3 lead going into the penultimate day. However it is so tight at the top that just 14 points – the equivalent of two bad races – separate Oman Air from fifth-placed CHINA One with two more days of racing still to come.

Taylor Canfield’s CHINA One rookies opened their scorecard with wins in the first two races, clearly relishing the challenging conditions that eventually led to race director Phil Lawrence calling an end to the day after six races.

“We had a great start to the day – coming away with two wins was very cool for us,” a beaming Canfield said on the dock. “We’re definitely making strides in the right direction. We’re slowly starting to figure out the whole foiling game.

“We learned a lot yesterday which really showed out there today, andI think by tomorrow we’re going to be even better. It was an absolute blast out there. We’re looking forward to more breeze and more action over the next couple of days.”

Prior to the start of Act 3 Danish skipper Jes Gram-Hansen backed his fit, strong team to thrive in big breeze – and they proved him right as they banked four podium finishes including one race win to leapfrog up the scoreboard into second.

“We like the speed and we like the action,” said Gram Hansen, buoyed by his team’s top performance. “There’s no question that these boats are super-physical to sail but we’re a strong team and it could be that big breeze is a benefit for us. All the teams are sailing well here and it just goes to show anyone can win races.”

SAP Extreme Sailing Team finished third in Cardiff in 2015, and Gram-Hansen said his crew are after another podium place on Welsh waters this year. “It is a real balance between pushing hard and keeping the boat in one piece,” he added. “We’re going to keep pushing and see if we can sail onto the podium for the first time this year.”

Sail Portugal jump up to sixth in the overall rankings after Land Rover BAR Academy were forced to retire from the first race of the day and miss the following four with structural damage.

The third day of Act 3 commences at 1345 BST tomorrow. Fans around the globe can watch the racing live online on the official event website from 1515 to 1645 BST.

Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 3, Cardiff standings after Day 2, 14 races
Position / Team / Points
1st Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 144 points
2nd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Mads Emil Stephensen, Pierluigi De Felice, Renato Conde 138 points.
3rd Alinghi (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Timothé Lapauw, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 137 points.
4th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Stewart Dodson, Adam Piggott, Brad Farrand 135 points.
5th CHINA One (CHN) Taylor Canfield, Shane Diviney, Hayden Goodrick, Garth Ellingham, Luke Payne 130 points.
6th Sail Portugal (POR) Diogo Cayolla, Javier de la Plaza, Luís Brito, João Matos Rosa, Sam Bell 107 points.
7th Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Paul Campbell-James (‘CJ’), Neil Hunter, Will Alloway, Oli Greber, Adam Kay 55 points.