Morgan Larson: King of the Stadium

Published on April 9th, 2015

The Extreme Sailing Series is in its ninth season, with this year’s eight event tour traveling through Asia, Europe, and Australia. Teams race on the one design Extreme 40 catamaran, with the format of ‘stadium’ short-course racing creating a commercially successful entertainment event.

With several America’s Cup teams competing in 2014, it was American Morgan Larson who skippered the Alinghi team to victory. While best known for his high performance dinghy accomplishments in the 5O5 and 49er, or as a grand prix monohull tactician, Larson showed that he could conquer the multihull game too.

Here Morgan shares some comments about the circuit…

Describe the Extreme Sailing Series
Think of college racing in fast boats. Only difference is you don’t wake up on a dorm room floor, hung over with the first start at 9am! It is a great spectacle with eight races piled into a two hour session.

Tight courses
We typically race the first day out on the open water and then the final three days are more inside the “arena”. Some events are more pure to racing than others, but in general the races can get compromised by the venue and by the experience the event is trying to give to the sponsors, spectators, and TV. To do well, you adapt to the format and learn how to stay consistent when the conditions are less than perfect.

Commercial component

Most of the teams have sponsor support, but we were privately funded. We didn’t have the outside distraction of the corporate hospitality part of the event, but we did have an owner (Ernesto Bertarelli) who is competitive and expects performance out of the team.

Winning approach
We kept it casual and focused on the long term. In a format where you might sail as much as 240 races in a full season, you really need to know when to back off and when to step on the gas. I think as a collective team we figured out in 2014 the right balance.

Atmosphere inside the lines

The sailing is amazing … you don’t get more bang for the buck in pro sailing. Also, the family within the sailors and event organizers is a great community. I will miss it this year.

2015 plans
We will be competing with mostly the same Alinghi team on the foiling GC32 Racing Tour. We won’t have Anna Tunnicliffe or Stu Pollard which is a shame because those two were huge parts of our success on the Extreme 40. However, we will have a 470 Olympian from France named Nico Charbonier.

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