Swiss sailing team Alinghi were crowned Kings of Qingdao for a second year running as they swept to glory in the second Act of the Extreme Sailing Series™.
The 2016 Extreme Sailing Series champions saw off their six international rivals with pinpoint accuracy to win Act 2, Qingdao "Mazarin" Cup in Qingdao, China.
With a welcome breeze ranging from eight to 18 knots blowing through Fushan Bay, Alinghi co-skipper Arnaud Psarofaghis led his men to an impressive 11 podium finishes in 17 races, notching up four victories along the way to retain their winning record in Qingdao.
Alinghi's dominance was summed up in the fifth race of the day when they were penalised for being over the line at the start but came back to win it.
Meanwhile the young guns of Land Rover BAR Academy completed their ascendancy from promising talent to serious threat taking the runners-up spot despite having to sit the last two races out due to boat damage.
The impressive result is the British outfit's best since they joined the Extreme Sailing Series at the start of 2016, and gives them a timely boost as they turn their attention to the Red Bull Youth America's Cup in Bermuda next month.
The Act 2 podium was completed by Oman Air who pulled off a sensational comeback on the waters of Fushan Bay with three race wins today including the vital final double-pointer to jump from sixth overall to third.
The results see Alinghi move to the top of the Series leaderboard after two Acts, with Act 1 winners SAP Extreme Sailing Team slipping to second ahead of Oman Air in third.
"We're super happy to have won here in Qingdao for the second year," said Psarofaghis, whose winning crew mates include Nicolas Charbonnier, Bryan Mettraux, Yves Detrey and Timothé Lapauw. "Our plan was always to do what we did last year – be patient and deal with whatever wind we get dealt on the water. It's nice to be on top but it's early still and it's going to be really hard to win this championship, that's for sure."
Land Rover BAR Academy skipper Rob Bunce said his team were delighted with second place despite the bump with NZ Extreme Sailing Team.
"We're so happy," he said. "I think it all comes down to our great day yesterday and a few good results today before our little collision with NZ Extreme Sailing Team. It's a shame we couldn't compete in the last two races, it's not the way we wanted to finish the Act, but we're really happy with the result. It's just the confidence boost we needed before the Red Bull Youth America's Cup."
Although Oman Air finished on equal points with SAP Extreme Sailing Team, they snatched third from their Danish rivals by breaking the tie with a win in the final race of the Act.
"I can't imagine a better result than that today, we pulled the rabbit out of the hat," a grinning Phil Robertson, skipper of Oman Air, said. "We're only a couple of points behind Alinghi overall now, and it's really just the start of the year. It's going to be a long, hard season against some good teams and everyone will be moving up and down the leaderboard. We're pretty happy right now."
Red Bull Sailing Team came home in fifth overall while Extreme Sailing Series rookies NZ Extreme Sailing Team slipped from third to sixth after repeatedly falling foul of the on-the-water umpires.
Chinese-flagged wildcard entry Team Extreme, skippered by Qingdao sailing star Liu Xue (Black) and Portuguese sailor Bernardo Freitas, rounded off the leaderboard in seventh.
However they did walk away with the Zhik Speed Machine Trophy for the fastest team on the water throughout the Act, with insights from Official Technical Partner SAP, after they were clocked at a blistering 29.8 knots in the first race of the Act.
The fleet now has an eight-week break before the battle for Extreme Sailing Series glory resumes in Portugal's island archipelago of Madeira from June 29 to July 2.
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 2, Qingdao "Mazarin" Cup standings after Day 4, 17 races (01.05.17)
Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Timothé Lapauw, Bryan Mettraux, Yves Detrey 184 points.
2nd Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Rob Bunce, Chris Taylor, Will Alloway, Adam Kay, Sam Batten 173 points.
3rd Oman Air (OMA) Phil Robertson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 168 points.
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Mads Emil Stephensen, Pierluigi de Felice, Richard Mason 168 points.
5th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Stewart Dodson, Adam Piggott, Will Tiller 166 points.
6th NZ Extreme Sailing Team (NZL) Chris Steele, Graeme Sutherland, Shane Diviney, Leonard Takahashi Fry, Josh Salthouse 164 points.
7th Team Extreme (CHN) Liu Xue (Black), Bernardo Freitas, Martin Evans, Rob Partridge, Tom Buggy 121 points.
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2017 overall standings
Position / Team / Points
1st Alinghi (SUI) 23 points.
2nd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 21 points.
3rd Oman Air (OMA) 20 points.
4th Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) 18 points.
5th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 17 points.
6th NZ Extreme Sailing Team (NZL) 15 points