-One week to go until Act 4, Hamburg, where the fleet race in one of Europe’s busiest ports on the River Elbe -Watch the Stadium Racing live on the official event website from 30 July, with commentary by Niall Myant and Britain’s “Golden Girl” Sarah Ayton OBE –Oman Air lead the fleet but Red Bull Sailing Team are snapping at their heels
After three action-packed Acts in Oman, China and Wales, the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™ season is now approaching the halfway mark. Today there is just one week to go until the fleet of GC32s takes to the waters of Germany’s “Gateway to the World”, the Port of Hamburg, which will play host to Act 4.
With around 10,000 vessels paying a visit to the Port of Hamburg each year, the fleet of seven hydro-foiling GC32s will race in one of Europe’s busiest ports, from the 28 – 31 July, on the waters of the River Elbe for the second time in the Series’ history.
To accommodate the introduction of the new fleet of boats the race area has been expanded slightly, allowing more room for manoeuvre in the super-fast GC32s. But, with the harbour walls enclosing the course, racing will still be at close quarters.
“The GC32s performed well in the close confines of Cardiff stadium setting last month, but the crews will face the additional challenge of strong tidal currents in Hamburg. I am expecting very close racing, with the mixed conditions throwing up some surprise results,” said Race Director, Phil Lawrence.
One team that knows better than most the impact that the shifty conditions on the River Elbe can have is SAP Extreme Sailing Team. Caught out by a gust midway through a gybe last year, the Danes took the plunge with a dramatic capsize, on a day which saw thunderstorms and winds of up to 30 knots (56 km/h).
“Despite the drama of a capsize and a huge collision we still finished on the podium and there were lots of things about our performance that we will try to repeat this time. We are getting more experienced in the GC32 and look forward to some close racing,” commented co-skipper Rasmus Køstner.
“In Cardiff we proved we could put four days of good performances together and we are getting more and more of the small details right. We will keep pushing and keep improving,” continued Køstner, whose team pocketed their first podium finish in Cardiff last month, and currently sit in fourth on the leaderboard.
As the fleet enters the fourth Act of the eight-Act 2016 season, the teams have found their feet in the GC32s. However two teams dominate the leaderboard.
Oman Air and Red Bull Sailing Team have both secured podium spots at every Act, and heading into Hamburg, Oman Air maintain their lead, but Red Bull Sailing Team, skippered by double Olympic gold medallist Roman Hagara, are snapping at their heels.
Due to an injury putting him out of action, Hagara did not compete in the 2015 Hamburg Act, making this his Series debut at the venue, but the Austrian skipper already has plans to dominate the weekend.
“We plan to sail on the limit, constantly progressing and not making any mistakes. Oman Air may be the season favourites but we, along with the rest of the fleet, will put up a fight,” said Hagara, whose team currently sits only three points behind Oman Air.
“Hamburg is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe but at the same time, for a sailor, it is a very challenging venue. The course itself is very narrow, particularly for the use of high-speed foiling boats, and the shifting wind conditions, caused by the tall buildings along the shore, add to the challenge,” added Hagara.
With this being the second time Hamburg has hosted the Series, the tricky venue is still relatively new to all of the teams, which levels the playing field between stalwarts and newcomers.
“A new or less well-known venue makes it difficult to prepare, to set your strategy and to execute it. You need to put an effort into understanding the racecourse during racing. A good coach, and a set-up where new information can quickly be adapted into the race strategy, really helps,” commented Køstner.
Land Rover BAR Academy once again see a reshuffle in the team roster, as British Academy trialist Elliot Hansen makes his debut, but Neil Hunter, the youngest skipper in the fleet at 21, remains in charge.
For more information about the venue and how you can get front row seats from the free-to-enter public Race Village at the HafenCity waterfront click here. Fans online can watch the racing live on the official website from 1600-1730 GMT+2 on 30 July and 1530-1700 GMT+2 on 31 July.
The Line-Up – Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 4, Hamburg
Alinghi (SUI) Skipper/Helm: Arnaud Psarofaghis (SUI) Tactician: Nicolas Charbonnier (FRA) Headsail Trimmer: Nils Frei (SUI) Bowman: Yves Detrey (SUI) Floater: Timothé Lapauw (FRA) CHINA One (CHN) Skipper/Helm: Taylor Canfield (ISV) Tactician/Bowman: Chris Steele (NZL) Mainsail Trimmer: Hayden Goodrick (NZL) Headsail Trimmer: Garth Ellingham (NZL) Floater: Shane Diviney (IRL)
Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Skipper/Bowman: Neil Hunter (GBR) Helm: Owen Bowerman (GBR)/Elliot Hansen (GBR) Mainsail Trimmer: Will Alloway (GBR) Headsail Trimmer: Oliver Greber (GBR)/ Adam Kay (GBR) Floater: Rob Bunce (GBR)
Oman Air (OMA) Skipper/Helm: Morgan Larson (USA) Mainsail Trimmer: Pete Greenhalgh (GBR) Headsail Trimmer: Ed Smyth (NZL/AUS) Bowmen: Nasser Al Mashari (OMA) & James Wierzbowski (AUS)
Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Skipper/Helm: Roman Hagara (AUT) Tactician: Hans-Peter Steinacher (AUT) Mainsail Trimmer: Stewart Dodson (NZL) Headsail Trimmer: Adam Piggott (GBR) Bowman: Brad Farrand (NZL)
Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira (POR) Skipper/Helm: Diogo Cayolla (POR) Mainsail Trimmer Trimmer: Javier de la Plaza (ESP) Headsail Trimmer: Nuno Barreto Bowman: Luís Brito (POR) Floater: João Matos Rosa (POR)
SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Co-Skipper/Helm: Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) Co-Skipper/Tactician: Rasmus Køstner (DEN) Mainsail Trimmer: Mads Emil Stephensen (DEN) Headsail Trimmer: Pierluigi De Felice (ITA) Bowman: Renato Conde (POR)
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2016 overall results Position / Team / Points
1 Oman Air (OMA) 35 points
2 Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 32 points
3 Alinghi (SUI) 30 points
4 SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 25 points
5 Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) 25 points
6 CHINA One (CHN) 21 points
7 Sail Portugal-Visit Madeira (POR) 20 points
8 Team Turx (TUR) 11 points