Gloves are off at Extreme Sailing Series
Published on September 10th, 2014
The Extreme 40 fleet is in Istanbul, where the historic Turkish city hosts on September 11-14 the 12 competing international teams for the sixth stop on the eight event 2014 Extreme Sailing Series.
The 100 square mile city, that straddles both Europe and Asia over the Bosphorus Bridge, is one of only three Acts left on the 2014 calendar – in Istanbul, Nice and Sydney. Click here to watch online. Freddie Carr provides his predictions on these next four days of racing…
I raced in Istanbul back in 2011, and it was a really good racecourse. But what I’m really looking forward to in Istanbul for Act 6 is that we’re going back to see a more open-water venue, and I think that offers a different opportunity for the sailors. We saw it in Muscat, Oman for Act 2, and we had one of the closest ever finishes with five boats shooting it out on the final day, and I would expect to see the same in Istanbul. It will be really interesting to see how the open water racecourse has an effect on the sailors and I would expect to see a very tight scoreboard after four days.
Looking back at Act 5 Cardiff, it was a similar story to that which we have seen for a lot of the season, with Alinghi coming out of the traps really strong early on in the regatta. J.P. Morgan BAR also joined them taking the lead on the first day – which was great to see for all the British sports fans who went down to Cardiff Bay to watch the racing that weekend – and The Wave, Muscat started off slowly. That seems to be the pattern that we’ve seen over the last five Acts.
Leigh McMillan and his crew on The Wave, Muscat did a really good job of chipping away at the points all weekend, right up to the final double-points race. The gloves really came off during that race, with that big pile up at the top mark amongst the top teams, and I really expect to see the shockwaves of that as we go in to Istanbul.
Generally I think the aggression levels have had to move up a gear and there’ll be no more Mr Nice Guy. Not only from Alinghi and The Wave, Muscat – the two crews at the top of the leaderboard, but everybody else. I think it’s drawn a line in the sand, and it’s now the business end – there was no love lost in that last race of Cardiff, and it will be interesting to see how that shakes off in Istanbul.
Realteam jumped up into third after Act 5 Cardiff, and they’re literally like the ‘peoples champions’. They’ve had a really consistent year, banging in the podiums here and there and never really in the bottom half of the fleet – and they’ve been rewarded with third overall. If they finish third this season, I will pick them as my team of the year for sure, and I think that will have been a phenomenal achievement for those guys. Full credit to them, I personally enjoy watching them sail, they’re low-risk and they’re clearly a tight group of mates that enjoy the victories together.
Another team to watch at Act 6 will be the invitational team – TeamTurx. Co-skipper Mitch Booth helmed the invitational boat at Act 3, Qingdao in China – Team Extreme Qingdao. Quite often at these events, the home invitational boat tends to sail towards the back of the fleet, but in Qingdao after day one Mitch and his team were third. So you really can’t rule out Mitch and his Turkish crew at this Act. He has some great Olympic sailors onboard and if they can get out of the traps on the first day after a good week of training, there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever that he wont be throwing the cat amongst the pigeons in Istanbul.
Ideally I really want to see Emirates Team New Zealand bounce back. They would have been devastated with their result in Cardiff, and I cannot remember the last time the Kiwi team would have finished last in a regatta – it will be interesting to watch how the boys respond to that. I can imagine they’ll come back and be in the top half of the fleet again before we know it. Also I’m always keeping an eye on the Austrians on Red Bull Sailing Team. They finished fourth in Cardiff, their best result this year and I would be interested to see if they can come back and continue with those results.
It will also be interesting to watch J.P. Morgan BAR to see if they can continue that good line of form that they’ve recently had. The team changed a few dynamics before Cardiff, not just the sailing crew but also who was coaching them. This time in Istanbul, they have Ian Barker – an Olympic Silver medallist coaching the team. So they’ve started to look at how different coaches and how different personalities can affect the team – which was one of the main take-away points from Cardiff. It’s not just the crew on the boat that contributes to the team, it’s also the support crew and the people off the water who can build that culture of winning, and that was an interesting lesson for the Brits.
Background: The Extreme Sailing Series is in its eighth season, with this year’s eight event tour travelling through Asia and Europe. The platform used is the one design Extreme 40 catamaran, with the format for event including both ocean and ‘stadium’ short-course racing in front of the public. Interest in the ESS has grown in part due to the multihull format being used in the America’s Cup. ESS website: http://www.extremesailingseries.com