Seven intrepid, elite international teams are waiting in the wings, ready to converge on the centre stage waters of Cabo San Lucas on the Baja California peninsular.
Following a hard fought nine months of global touring and tough competition, the highly anticipated end of season showdown promises to deliver an edge of your seat, nail-biting finish, with the teams hell bent on going out with a bang.
The Series leaderboard is close and the frontrunners have little room to breathe. Just three points separate Swiss squad Alinghi and Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team. Team Oman Air is right behind them, edging closer to the leaders after their spectacular San Diego Act win at the end of October.
Keeping a cool head, Alinghi’s co-skipper and helm Arnaud Psarofaghis remains fearless as the final approaches.
“There’s no pressure for us,” says the calm Swiss sailor. “We’re in the best possible place to win the Act, and indeed, the Series.”
Alinghi have taken the top spot in four of this year’s seven events. Seasoned professionals, the Swiss crew have won the Extreme Sailing Series three times previously and are looking to take their fourth championship title in Los Cabos this week.
In contrast to Alinghi’s nonchalance, their Danish counterparts are not so at ease.
“We do feel the pressure,” admitted SAP Extreme Sailing Team skipper, Rasmus Køstner. “It could be a good thing though. Hopefully it can give us the little extra we need to beat Alinghi and Oman Air.”
For the Omani squad, things seem to be on the up. A tumultuous year with many obstacles to overcome, 2018 has definitely tested the team, but their Stateside success in October lit new fires in their bellies. Phil Robertson and his crew are now pushing for a double whammy win in Los Cabos.
“The competition has been tough,” Robertson said. “We haven’t had the smoothest year and we’ve had a lot of set backs along the way. San Diego built our confidence though. We now know we have the speed and mental strength to take a win that tight.”
Extreme Sailing Series Los Cabos will be a long awaited homecoming for Team México – the first and only Mexican contingent to compete in the Series throughout its 12-year history. With plenty of experience on these waters, skipper Erik Brockmann and his team – that includes Mexican Olympian, Yanic Gentry – will be gunning for glory and are brimming with excitement.
“We are really looking forward to this final event,” enthused Brockmann. “There will definitely be a good crowd cheering for us, and having ‘Mexico’ on the hull and sails makes it even more special. We will definitely push it as hard as we can to do our best and close the season on a high!”
Lining up against the Mexicans, Omanis, Danes and Swiss is Red Bull Sailing Team – the Austrian squad spearheaded by double Olympic gold medallists, Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher. Following numerous crew changes onboard throughout the year, Hagara and Steinacher seem to have found their groove just in time for the Series finale, since they will be competing with the same crew that tore up the course in San Diego.
“We’ve had several changes within the team this season and did struggle a bit with the fine tuning of manoeuvres onboard,” admitted Hagara, skipper and helm for the team. “Nevertheless, we do feel that with the latest crew setup, we’ve found the winning formula. We have big goals for the final Act of the season.”
Despite their confidence, Red Bull Sailing Team will be watching their backs in Los Cabos as British INEOS Rebels bring out their secret weapons for the final. Rebels regulars Will Alloway, Oli Greber and Mark Spearman will have their squad bolstered by Britain’s most successful sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie, Olympian Giles Scott, and America’s Cup star Joey Newton.
A US-flagged wildcard team – US Team Extreme – will also be flagging down the fleet; the team’s champion match racing skipper, Taylor Canfield, unable to resist a second round on the Series racecourse, following his entry in San Diego.
Extreme Sailing Series Los Cabos takes place from 29 November – 2 December, and is supported by Fiturca and Los Cabos Municipality. The double-points racing gets underway from 14:00 UTC-7 on Thursday, and will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 December.
Crew line-up for Extreme Sailing Series™ Los Cabos
Co-skipper/Helm: Arnaud Psarofaghis (SUI)
Tactician/Mainsail trimmer: Nicolas Charbonnier (FRA)
Headsail trimmer: Bryan Mettraux (SUI)
Bowman: Yves Detrey (SUI)
Foil trimmer: Timothé Lapauw (FRA)
INEOS Rebels UK (GBR)
Reserve Sailor & Skipper: Will Alloway (GBR)
Helm: Ben Ainslie (GBR)
Tactician: Giles Scott (GBR)
Jib Trimmer: Joey Newton (AUS)
Bowman: Oli Greber (GBR)
Main Trimmer: Mark Spearman (GBR)
Reserve Sailor: Adam Kay (GBR)
Oman Air (OMA)
Skipper/helm: Phil Robertson (NZL)
Mainsail trimmer: Pete Greenhalgh (GBR)
Headsail trimmer: Stewart Dodson (NZL)
Bowman: Nasser Al Mashari (OMA)
Foil trimmer: James Wierzbowski (AUS)
Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT)
Skipper/ Helm: Roman Hagara (AUT)
Mainsheet: Hans-Peter Steinacher (AUT)
Trimmer: Rhys Mara (AUS)
Bowman: Dan Morris (USA)
Boards trimmer: Micah Wilkinson (NZL)
SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN)
Skipper/tactician/mainsheet trimmer: Rasmus Køstner (DEN)
Helm: Adam Minoprio (NZL)
Headsail trimmer: Pierluigi de Felice (ITA)
Bowman: Richard Mason (GBR)
Trim assist/grinder: Julius Hallström (SWE)
Team México (MEX)
Skipper/Foil Trim: Erik Brockmann (MEX)
Helm: Tom Phipps (GBR)
Mainsail trimmer: Alex Higby (GBR)
Headsail Trimmer: Tom Buggy (GBR)
Bowman: Yanic Gentry (MEX)
US Team Extreme (USA)
Skipper/Helm: Taylor Canfield (USA)
Mainsail trimmer: Riley Gibbs (USA)
Foil Trimmer/Bowman: Matt Woodworth (USA)
Headsail Trimmer: Scott Ewing (USA)
Float: Brian Porter (USA)
Current overall standings
1st Alinghi (SUI)
2nd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN)
3rd Oman Air (OMA)
4th INEOS Rebels UK (GBR)
5th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT)
6th Team México (MEX)
Source – Isabelle Stocker/Extreme Sailing Series