Not all smooth sailing for Alinghi team in Qingdao

Updated: 2013-05-06 07:15

By Tang Zhe and Xie Chuanjiao in Qingdao, Shandong province (China Daily)

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The skippers and crews competing at the Extreme Sailing Series in Qingdao must have been concerned as thick fog descended over Fushan Bay on Sunday morning.

However, unlike the lingering mist on Saturday, the fog dispersed before noon and made way for a sunny afternoon enjoyed by sailors and fans alike.

It turned out to be an extremely pleasant day for Oman team Wave Muscat as it won a tight race against Swiss boat Alinghi.

The Oman team, comprising three experienced foreign sailors and two young Omanis, won by only two points over Alinghi's America's Cup veterans.

Alinghi, coming to Qingdao with only victory in mind, had its initial lead overhauled in Act 3, when it collided with Swiss counterparts Realteam before the start of the race. That not only resulted in a penalty for helmsman Morgan Larson for the port-starboard incident, but also caused damage to Alinghi's stern.

Still, the mishap in Qingdao - the third venue of the eight-stop series has by no means dimmed Alinghi's ambitions of repeating its championship feat of 2008 and the team still leads the overall standings with 27 points, one ahead of Wave Muscat.

"Tomorrow's another day. There's going to be a lot of races and there will be chances to fight back," Larson said.

Alinghi team coordinator Christophe Lanz echoed those sentiments.

"I think it's very important for the crews to have a very strong mentality, to forget about one race and jump into the next one with clear focus don't think too much about what has gone wrong, but what they have to do right," he said.

Apart from gaining America's Cup glory, Alinghi has also set new standards in the Extreme 40 class.

"Extreme 40 is all about sport. The America's Cup is legal, but sailing is on the water not in the courts, this is pure sailing," Lanz said referring to numerous court battles surrounding the America's Cup over the past few decades.

He was also impressed by the challenging characteristics of the Qingdao circuit.

"It's very short, very narrow, you don't have a lot of space, but you have a lot of boats that move very fast," he said.

"It's very tricky because you have a lot of priority routes and you have to find your way quickly."

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(China Daily 05/06/2013 page23)