Team New Zealand in fourth place in Singapore

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 09:12 21/02/2014

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Team New Zealand finished the opening day of the Extreme 40 Sailing Series in Singapore in fourth place overall, winning two of the eight races sailed in tricky, light airs.

Marking their return to action following last September's gut-wrenching America's Cup final loss to Oracle in San Francisco, Dean Barker's crew started strongly winning the opening race of the quick-fire system sailed in 40-foot catamarans on the Singapore harbour.

A subsequent sixth and two seconds had the Kiwis heading the table at the halfway stage of the opening day.

But three consecutive 10ths hurt them though they recovered to win the last race of the day amongst the 12-boat fleet.

Swiss entries Realstone (56 points) and Alinghi (48) top the table, followed by France's Groupama on 48, with Team New Zealand fourth on 46.

"I think if you were going to call it anything, you'd call it snakes and ladders," skipper Dean Barker said of the scramble on the ever-changing points table with so many races packed into the four-day schedule.

"But I'm very pleased ... we came in here with little time to get used to it. We got off to a great start and we were sailing well all day. Unfortunately towards the tail-end of the day, we had three pretty average results, through different mistakes. But all in all a very solid start to the series.

"It's going to be a battle, three more days racing in these conditions is going to be very challenging. We have to work on consistency and eliminating mistakes."

Team New Zealand weren't the only crew searching for consistency on an opening day that featured several crashes.

Olympic champion and Oracle tactician Ben Ainslie had an upa and down day in charge of his British team. Like the Kiwis, they mixed two wins with some slip-ups to end the day in fifth place, just two points adrift of Team New Zealand.

"We're all having to learn pretty quickly, and certainly in this tight venue - even for the experienced guys it's pretty tough," Ainslie said.

"It's a really strong fleet, it's one of the toughest fields we've ever had and we're obviously very new to this so we really learnt a lot today."

Extreme Sailing Series, Singapore (after day one, eight races)

1 Realstone (SUI) 56, 2 Alinghi (SUI) 48, 3 Groupama (FRA) 48, 4 Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 46, 5 J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 44, 6 Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 43, 7 SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 39, 8 Oman Air (OMA) 38, 9 The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 29, 10 Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 28, 11 GAC Pindar (AUS) 20, 12 Team Aberdeen Singapore (SIN) 17.

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- Fairfax Media

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