All the days there was abnormally hot weather, and it was heard everywhere: «A, they say, there is no summer»in St. Petersburg. Despite the beauty of the Neva River has a lot of difficulties for tactics - the wind, strong current, as well as shipping traffic. All this makes the performance of the teams incredibly difficult. Yacht gurus admit that St. Petersburg is one of the most difficult stages of the series.
«St. Petersburg is certainly a very beautiful site for such races, but at the same time it's also very challenging, creating a lot of difficulties for us", says co-shopper of Turkish Team Turx Edhem Dirvana, "but this is all we need!»
The helmsman and co-shipper performing with a Turkish crew, combined with a sailing legend and one of the creators of the Extreme 40 catmaran, Mitch Booth recognizes that the conditions of the Neva are, indeed, unpredictable:
«There are many different currents in the Neva water area, and they all try to take your boat where you do not need to, for example, from a sign when you are about to overtake it! In such races we try to avoid unnecessary maneuvers, and with the conditions of the Neva it turns out that often they have to do more»often.
The banks of the Neva River were filled with thousands of spectators every day (the organizer of the competition Yacht Club of St. Petersburg reported 23 thousand people), and for the Russian team it was the best support at the only Russian stop of the year. Despite the fact that «houses and walls are considered to help», the Russian team failed to realize the planned goal and finish the stage on the podium. According to the results of the past six stages, the guys managed to hold the 4th place, despite the not too successful results in the races of the 6th stage. Apparently, for the southern guys, and in the team of five people two New Zealanders and two more from the southern expanses of Russia, to cope with the northern rivers is not so easy. And you also need to take care of the catamaran!
In the previous stage, the SAP team could not cope with the management and turned the corner. Fortunately, no crew members were injured and the catamaran was quickly repaired. But if you hit the opponent, there is a chance to get out of the race before the end of the competition. And nobody wants that. The Neva water area made the race as close as possible, so skippers were careful and constantly threw out protests.
On one of these days, the skipper of the Russian team Igor Lisovenko noted:
«Within the Extreme Sailing Series I've been racing on the Neva for the second year already - it's really one of the most difficult areas of the series. I can say that it is not the center that wins here, but the right edge of the distance, taking into account this we have built our tactics. In such windy conditions [6-8 knots] the team feels great».
On the third day of the race, the third finish of gaspromovtsy in the fifth race brought sincere joy to the spectators on the beach of the Peter and Paul Fortress. They started on the left tack, unlike the majority, and were third in the first sign, holding this position and the finish itself. «It was an excellent plan, and those teams that managed to implement it, took good places», - commented on that race Igor Lisovenko.
Unfortunately, starting from the sixth Saturday race luck has left the Russians, the last three races of the day the team finished last. Also in the final race they were fined because of touching with another crew and had to turn the corner, which only made the result worse.
«After one unsuccessful race, the team starts to feel stressed, it's difficult to get back on track and concentrate on solving strategic tasks. This will be a lesson for us»...
Igor confessed on Saturday, the penultimate day of the competition, when their positions began to deteriorate.
The sixth stage of the race is marked by unexpected surprises from newcomers and setbacks from established teams.
The Red Bull team was the first to start giving the weakness: with the legendary Roman Hagara at the helm, the Austrians were good only on the first day of racing. The Neva River also brought surprises, and the second day brought the Italian team Lino Sonego two first finishes. The fleet colleagues were surprised to see the Swiss-Italian duo, which started the next day with the first three consecutive finishes.
It seemed that nothing can stop the enthusiastic Italians, but on the last day to give the heat decided the British GAC Pindar, who were quite smooth in the tail of the fleet, and the last day to finish first 4 times in 7 races of the day! As a result they finished the stage on the 4th place.
Nevertheless, the top places were predetermined - on the last day of the race it was left to find out who would take what. The skill of Lee McMillan from The Wave, Muscat could not beat any of the lucky rivals. They have already had 3 victories in a row in the stages of this year, and only four top places this year. The Wave, Muscat team earned such an advantage by points (24) that it became impossible to catch up with them.
So the main struggle was for 2nd and 3rd places. Here fought Austrians (Red Bull Extreme Sailing) and Italians (Lino Sonego), who due to their successful performance were recognized as the best team of the stage, according to the general sponsor of the competition, receiving the «Land Rover Above & Beyond award. In addition to the high praise from the sponsor, the Italians won second place in the stage by the amount of points, the last day's performance was not super successful, but thanks to the points earned in previous days were able to beat Red Bull.
The outsiders of the stage were SAP Extreme, who finished the stage in last place. This failure shifted them to the 3rd place in the overall standings, though with a difference of only one point with Red Bull, so there are still chances. Skippers Rasmus Køstner and Jes Gram-Hansen have been thinking hard and are planning to gather their thoughts for the next stage in Turkey, which promises to be interesting.
All participants in the St. Petersburg stage will certainly not forget the midday gun. Every day the racing tent was shaken by an explosive wave, and a few minutes before the shot the riders sat with their ears glued a little bit bent in anticipation of a stunning shot.
Many yachtsmen managed to see the beautiful city and enjoy its inimitable architecture and imbued with history and beauty. Next year the Extreme Sailing Series will return to the Northern Capital, and this time not only we, but also the participants of the regatta count the days.
The airborne equipment is provided by Skymec.