Slow Start to Extreme Sailing Series Madeira
Published on September 22nd, 2016
Madeira Islands, Portugal (September 22, 2016) – Extreme Sailing Series™ veterans Red Bull Sailing Team from Austria sneaked an early Act 6 lead today after challenging light winds offered just enough for one race on the opening day.
Stunning conditions had greeted the fleet yesterday as they took to the waters of Funchal, the capital city of the Portuguese archipelago, for practice racing. Bright blue skies and a fresh breeze saw the lightning-fast GC32 catamarans revelling as they ‘flew’ around the Extreme Sailing Series’ newest venue on their hydro-foils.
The practice session was the perfect showcase for Madeira as it hosted the Extreme Sailing Series for the first time ever. But as the event proper got underway today, the wind gods took an untimely day off, and the seven teams were left trying to squeeze every last bit of boatspeed from the gentle puffs of just a few knots.
Capable of top speeds of almost 40 knots, it was an altogether different game on the GC32 catamarans as the crews tried to pick their way through a race course rife with pitfalls.
As the first and only race got underway, Red Bull Sailing Team got an early advantage, leading the international fleet off the start line. It was to be anything but plain sailing for Roman Hagara’s men, however, as they were soon overhauled by wildcard team Vega Racing, the first USA-flagged team to compete in the Extreme Sailing Series in eight years.
Led by American Moth sailor Brad Funk, and with a top crew including British dinghy star Nick Thompson, Vega Racing looked to have laid down an early marker as they rounded the first mark ahead. But their glory was short-lived as they sailed into a wind hole, allowing the majority of the fleet to skirt round them.
The quest for the top spot became a four-way battle between Red Bull Sailing Team, Alinghi, SAP Extreme Sailing Team, and home team Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira. The top teams split from one another in a desperate attempt to find more breeze, and when they came back together it was Red Bull Sailing Team with the narrowest of leads.
They clung on to take the race win ahead of Alinghi in second and SAP Extreme Sailing Team in third. After stalling a few metres from the finish line Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira were powerless to stop Series leaders Oman Air from snatching fourth place from them. Newcomers Vega Racing had to settle for sixth place, just ahead of Land Rover BAR Academy.
“We knew the forecast was for light breeze and we were able to get one race in and a good result for us,” said Hagara, a two-time Olympic gold medallist. “It is tough when the wind is light because you have to stay concentrated and really focus on every last little bit of boat speed. But a win is a win and that’s something that can’t be taken away.”
Diogo Cayolla, skipper of Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira, said he was looking forward to competing in front of home crowds again when racing resumes tomorrow at 1400 local time (1300 GMT).
“It’s really tricky sailing in Madeira but that’s one of the challenges we look forward to. There’s a lot of expectation on us as the home team but we’re going to give our best as always and hopefully please the crowds by winning some races.”
To watch the racing online… click here.
Standings after Day 1, 1 race
1st Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Stewart Dodson, Adam Piggott, Brad Farrand 12 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Timothé Lapauw, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 11 points.
3rd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Mads Emil Stephensen, Pierluigi De Felice, Renato Conde 10 points.
4th Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 9 points.
5th Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira (POR) Diogo Cayolla, Frederico Melo, Nuno Barreto, Luís Brito, João Matos Rosa 8 points.
6th Vega Racing (USA) Brad Funk, Tom Buggy, Nick Thompson, Zé Costa, Mac Agnese 7 points.
7th Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Neil Hunter, Chris Taylor, Will Alloway, Sam Batten, Rob Bunce
March 16-19 – Muscat, Oman
April 29-May 2 – Qingdao, China
June 23-26 – Cardiff, UK
July 28-31 – Hamburg, Germany
September 1-4 – St Petersburg, Russia
September 22-25 – Madeira Islands, Portugal
October 6-9 – Lisbon, Portugal
December 8-11 – Australia (location TBD)
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