Extreme Sailing Series comes to Cardiff

Published on June 16th, 2016

The world’s top short-course multihull racing sailors are gearing up for what promises to be a spectacular return of the Extreme Sailing Series™ to Cardiff in one week’s time.

The only UK Act of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series season – on June 23-26 – will see the brand new fleet of hydro-foiling GC32 catamarans making their UK debut in the Series at a venue that draws the crowds in their thousands and usually features fast and furious conditions.

With two competitive Acts already completed this year – at Muscat in Oman and Qingdao in China – Cardiff is the tightest stadium of the year so far, that could see the new flying machines really take-off, and the crews can’t wait.

“It’s going to be super-flat water and there is likely to be some breeze on one or two of the days,” said Series-leading Oman Air British crewman Pete Greenhalgh. “That means we’ll be going extremely fast and we will see some really good top speeds. It will be pretty hairy – very hairy – but I am very much looking forward to it.”

Jes Gram-Hansen, the Danish co-skipper of the SAP Extreme Sailing Team which lies fifth overall, is also viewing Cardiff as a big challenge in the new boats.

“In the past Cardiff has always been an exciting place to sail and we’ll have to see what kind of conditions we get this year. But of course it’s going to be difficult if the breeze is up with the new boats on foils and hopefully there will not be too much carnage,” said Gram-Hansen.

“It’s an interesting racecourse. There is a fairly long and fast leg from the startline and, assuming there is good breeze, we are going to reach some very high speeds there. Then there is a loop in the Bay which is going to be short and hectic.”

It all adds up to a big handful for Race Director Phil Lawrence who loves the Cardiff setting.

“We get big crowds and it’s a compact stadium so the racing is really close and people can watch the action all along the side of the course. The racing is great and the sailors love it,” he said.

Lawrence will be watching to make sure wind conditions do not get out of hand as the boats hit top-speeds of up to 45mph in very confined waters.

“We have been very impressed with the boats so far – the switch from Extreme 40s has worked well and the new design has slotted easily into our format. The sailors are enjoying it too and there is no doubt it has refreshed the format of the Extreme Sailing Series,” he added.

The UK Act will see the battle rejoined at the top of the leaderboard between Series leaders Oman Air who are two points ahead of Alinghi and Red Bull Sailing Team tied in second place. Fourth overall is the Land Rover BAR Academy team which will be deploying a rotating crew at Cardiff for the first time with both Paul ‘CJ’ Campbell-James and Jono Macbeth attending as senior team mentors.

A squad of eight young talented multihull racers, who are part of the Academy at Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup syndicate in Portsmouth, will rotate after each day’s racing.

“For the Academy guys Cardiff is going to be the perfect step into Extreme Sailing serious-style inshore racing at its absolute best,” said team coach Andrew Walsh. “It’s going to be a very steep learning curve.”

Behind the Land Rover BAR Academy team, SAP Extreme Sailing Team will be looking to improve and cut out errors as they aim to join the podium places in the overall rankings. Just two points behind the Danes, battle will recommence between Sail Portugal – who welcome new crewman, the New Zealand America’s Cup sailor Sam Bell, on board – and China One who are tied in sixth and seventh places respectively.

Cardiff will be all-action on the water and on the shore and fans in the UK can watch the racing live on BT Sport Europe on the final day, while fans online can watch the racing live on the official YouTube channel on June 25-26, 1530-1700 BST daily.

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The Line-Up – Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 3, Cardiff

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: Luke Payne (AUS)

Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR)
Skipper: Neil Hunter (GBR)
Crew: Oliver Greber (GBR)
Crew: Will Alloway (GBR)
Crew: Rob Bunce (GBR)
Crew: Neil Hunter (GBR)
Crew: Adam Kay (GBR)
Crew: Owen Bowerman (GBR)
Crew: Sam Batten (GBR)
Crew: Chris Taylor (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 (POR)
Skipper/Helm: Diogo Cayolla (POR)
Mainsail Trimmer Trimmer: Javier de la Plaza (ESP)
Headsail Trimmer: Luís Brito (POR)
Bowman: Sam Bell (NZL)
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)

Background: The Extreme Sailing Series is in its tenth season, with this year’s eight event tour travelling through Asia, Europe, and Australia. The platform used is the one design foiling GC32 catamaran, with the format highlighting ‘stadium’ short-course racing in front of the public. ESS website: http://www.extremesailingseries.com

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