The first day of Act 7 in Lisbons Rio Tajo presented challenges for all competitors, basically displaying fairly light breeze in heavy current conditions.
Five races were completed of the day seeing winds in the 7 knot range, periodically gusting to 9 knots and also dropping to lows in the 5 knots. Nobody can complain about the venue and weather and even the wind direction represented the most stabile direction the mouth of River Tajo can offer, namely a W-SW direction pouring fresh atlantic breeze right into the fleet.
At the start of the day, coach Michael Hestbæk outlined his impression of todays tactical scenario: “With the heavy current combined with light breeze, emphasis has to be put on starts. Best one out of the starting box will be favored to take the honors…”. And so it spelled out. Hestbæk commented after the races: “It was very stable and foreseeable conditions, which translates to few passing lanes and the battle for starting position. Today you need to get the pin end get out to the left side and you’d see yourself in very good position”. Sound easy…?
After 5 races SAP Extreme Sailing Team is at 6th position and this can mainly be explained by starts that did not go the right way. One of the reasons is the very skewed starting lines today, favoring port side starters and leaving a very narrow track for the others. But battling in high risk territory for starting position has its risks and costs and took its toll on the team today. Even when trying a gutsy port tack start in Race 5, that looked promising at first when leading the fleet a third way up the beat, the advantage crumbled. There was a sense of being on the wrong side of the edge all day and that is not a comfortable feeling, nor rewarding.
The swiss team Alinghi is atop the leaderboard followed by the ‘newcomer’ from France, which actually is quite experienced in the GC32.
Tune in tomorrow and follow the races from 14:00 local Lisbon time.