Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand clinched victory at Act 4 of the Extreme Sailing Series in the final leg of the final race of the final day

As the country celebrated Independence Day, American Terry Hutchinson on board Artemis Racing went in to the final race with an eight point lead after heading the leaderboard for most of the past five days – but lost in the final leg of the final race of the final day.

An enthralled US non-sailing public turned out in spades to watch up close what was probably one of the biggest ever on-site American audiences for a sailing event, estimated at 55,000 over the five days.

Day 5 in 60 seconds:

In the finale Emirates Team New Zealand had a blinding start, taking the lead once from Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, only to lose it after painfully stalling in a tack on the final beat. Until this point, despite having to duck most of the fleet on the start line, Hutchinson had managed to stay inside the crucial four places behind Barker which were necessary to take overall victory. On the final beat, however, just one tactical choice decided it, with the right-hand side of the course for once not paying for the American, and as they approached the final top mark they were passed by four boats and scored an eighth place. A rare occurrence for Hutchinson, destroying his dream of winning on his home turf with Emirates Team New Zealand taking overall victory by four points on a total of 293 after 37 races.

A disappointed Hutchinson shared his thoughts on the podium in front of his fans: “I said yesterday there is only one race you need to be in the lead for and its the most important one. We had a winning combination coming into the leeward mark going up the right-hand side and the breeze went hard left so we lost four boats up the last beat. All we can do is congratulate Emirates Team New Zealand. They hung tough for the whole regatta and sorry to the fans of Boston as it would have been great a good Independence Day finisher.”

For Emirates Team New Zealand the team were ecstatic to win their first ever Extreme Sailing Series event: “The sailing has been very challenging,” said Dean. “Artemis Racing showed us the way the whole week but the racing here was so tight, with potentially four boats able to take the title going in to the final race. It’s never over until it’s over. We had a really tight finish with Artemis in Istanbul and its nice to come out on the right side of this one. Boston has been great, we love the city and have really enjoyed our time here.”

Leigh McMillan and the crew of The Wave, Muscat completed the podium in third place, exceeding their own expectations in McMillan’s recent return to the circuit: “I was jumping up and down and shouting when we crossed the finishing line. It was a very good celebration amongst the team and it meant a lot for us. We never felt that we had a lot of breaks but we worked really hard through the week so it’s fair to say that the guys carried me through the week as I had my head down.”

Luna Rossa, the winner of Act 2 in Qingdao, China, got back into the frame over the last two days of the five-day event and were in contention for the podium but it was not be the Italian’s turn this time, finishing in fourth place overall ahead of the all-French team on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild by a mere two points.

Alinghi came back strongly in Act 4 to climb from ninth on the opening day to finish sixth overall ahead by just three points of Red Bull Extreme Sailing. This was one of the tightest overall leaderboards in the history of the event, with the top seven teams all vying for podium positions on the final day.

Extreme Sailing Series Act 4
Overall standings after 37 races, Day 5 (4 July 2011)

1st Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 293 points
2nd Artemis Racing (SWE), 289 points
3rd The Wave, Muscat (OMA), 269 points
4th Luna Rossa (ITA), 262 points
5th Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), 260 points
6th Alinghi (SUI), 251 points
7th Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT), 248 points
8th Oman Air (OMA), 198 points
9th Niceforyou (ITA), 172 points
10th Team GAC Pindar (GBR), 137 points
11th Team Extreme (EUR), 126 points