The Extreme Series racing on Monday. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
COWES WEEKAFTER the drama of the first four days, the strong winds eased off at the halfway stage of the UK round of the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series.
It was also a day when many well-known faces from the world of sailing and sport joined crews on the water.
Scots rugby player Gavin Hastings and Scottish professional female golfers Carly Booth and Mhairi McKay joined 2012 Vendee Globe entrant Mike Golding while also taking part were Ken Read, helmsman on two of Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes America’s Cup campaigns, Vincent Riou, winner of the 2004/05 Vendee Globe, Jean Le Cam, round the world yachtswoman Samantha Davies and Olympic gold medallist Sarah Gosling.
The British Aberdeen Asset Management team, headed up by Olympic 49er sailor, John Pink, did a repair job on their boat, replacing the 62ft rig with a spare mast.
The more benign north-westerly conditions allowed the full fleet — minus Artemis Racing, who have been unable to repair their damage incurred in the collision on Sunday — to race together on the stadium course set off Egypt Point.
The racing started with a round of one-on-one speed duels before the 11 teams lined up to race as one fleet for the first time since day one.
After the seven races, including five full-fleet races, The Wave, Muscat, skippered by Island sailor Leigh McMillan, has taken over at the top of the leaderboard from his friend and rival Paul Campbell-James at the helm of Luna Rossa.
McMillan said: "Today it opened up an opportunity to get some proper full fleet racing in with some light winds so we really wanted to take full advantage of that and I think we did a pretty good job."
McMillan made the best use of his 'home’ advantage but only has a slim lead over the French team on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and Max Sirena’s Luna Rossa in third.
The Swiss team, headed up by Tanguy Cariou with two-times series runner-up Yann Guichard on the helm, had a stronger day winning the final race, elevating them to fourth overall.
Britain’s Ian Williams on Team GAC Pindar will be annoyed to have dropped a place in the standings after scoring a win in the second fleet race but the team could do no better than eighth in the remaining races.
Roman Hagara’s team on Red Bull Extreme Sailing are lying in sixth place on 86 points, only three points ahead of Oman Air, who enjoyed a second race win in the penultimate race.
Adam Beashel’s team on Emirates Team New Zealand is not having the regatta they would have hoped for so far. Snagging the top mark in the first fleet race of the day, relegated them to the back of the fleet by the time they freed the mark, and the Kiwi’s best result of the day was a fifth place leaving them in ninth overall, eight points behind the Italian team on Niceforyou.