Opening Day next week for Extreme Sailing Season 2017

Published on March 2nd, 2017

The Extreme Sailing Series™ returns for 2017 with Act 1, Muscat on March 8-11, the first stop on an eight-Act global tour that will visit three continents over 10 months.

Nine teams, representing seven nations, with 40 of the world’s finest sailors on board, will compete on the waters in front of the Al Mouj Golf course, as they start their season-long campaigns to claim the coveted Series title, currently held by Swiss team Alinghi.

The crews will come fresh from competing in the inaugural GC32 Championship, which has seen the one-design fleets from the Extreme Sailing Series and GC32 Racing Tour unite to form a record 11-strong fleet of GC32s.

John Craig, who will make his debut as Race Director of the Extreme Sailing Series in Muscat, predicts this will mean an even hotter standard of racing in the first Act of the Extreme Sailing Series than normal.

“A lot of the teams have been here in Muscat for a few weeks so they have done a lot of sailing and the end result is that the level of competition should be even higher than usual. The GC32 Championship is a week of preparation that they’ve never had before,” he said.

Craig expects to see some tricky light-wind conditions for Act 1: “Muscat is an interesting venue in that the typical sea breeze direction means that it is lighter the closer you get to the shore, so we are hoping we’ll get a couple of fronts coming through that will bring us some breeze.

“We’ll do as much Stadium Racing as we can – as that is our sporting DNA – but we also have a couple of long distance coastal races planned which will give the teams a bit more breeze,” Craig added.

As always, however, the weather can be unpredictable and so far the GC32 Championship has seen some good winds and plenty of foiling from the fleet of super-fast catamarans.

The Act sees the return of five of last season’s teams; Alinghi, Land Rover BAR Academy, Oman Air, Red Bull Sailing Team and SAP Extreme Sailing Team, alongside some new additions in the form of Kiwi-flagged Tawera Racing and wildcards Team ENGIE and Team Tilt.

The 2016 season opener in Muscat saw the home team, Oman Air, walk away with the Act win, giving match racing ace Phil Robertson, who takes over from Morgan Larson as skipper this season, something to aim for.

“I have some massive boots to fill with Morgan Larson leaving, and me jumping in, so it’s not an easy task,” said Robertson, who skippered wildcard team Gazprom Team Russia last season. “The Oman Air team has got a huge amount of experience and a big playbook, so it’s just a case of me getting up to speed and bringing my style to that to make it a successful year.

“The Extreme Sailing Series is its own little beast and you’ve got to learn how to sail and change all your strategies to suit this style of racing. We are being realistic at the moment and know that it’s not going to be easy.”

Co-skipper of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series-winning team Alinghi, Arnaud Psarofaghis, is ready to go again but he is not taking anything for granted: “Last year was really good but it has passed now. This year is a new year and we must focus on that. Now everyone is stronger and there are also some new faces so we need to start again. But I am really looking forward to next week and getting going,” he said.

The action is scheduled to get underway at 13:00 local time (UTC+4) on March 8, with open water racing in front of the stunning backdrop of Muscat’s Old Town, known as Muttrah.

Fans can follow the action online on March 10 (14:00-17:30 (UTC+4)) and March 11 13:30-17:00 (UTC+4).

The line-up – Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 1, Muscat, Oman:

Alinghi (SUI)
Co-skipper/Helm: Arnaud Psarofaghis (SUI)
Tactician: Nicolas Charbonnier (FRA)
Headsail Trimmer: Nils Frei (SUI)
Bowman: Yves Detrey (SUI)
Floater: Timothé Lapauw (FRA)

Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR)
Skipper/Bowman: Rob Bunce (GBR)
Helm: Owen Bowerman (GBR)
Mainsail Trimmer: Will Alloway (GBR)
Headsail Trimmer: Elliot Hanson (GBR)/ Oli Greber (GBR)
Floater: Adam Kay (GBR)

Oman Air (OMA)
Skipper/Helm: Phil Robertson (NZL)
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: Will Tiller (NZL)

SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN)
Co-Skipper/Coach: Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN)
Co-Skipper/Tactician/Mainsail trimmer: Rasmus Køstner (DEN)
Helm: Adam Minoprio (NZL)
Headsail Trimmer: Hervé Cunnigham (FRA)
Bowman: Richard Mason (GBR)
Trim assist/Grinder: Mads Emil Stephensen (DEN)

Tawera Racing (NZL)
Co-skipper/Helm: Chris Steele (NZL)
Co-skipper/Mansail trimmer: Graeme Sutherland (NZL)
Headsail trimmer: Shane Diviney (IRL)
Foil trimmer: Leonard Takahashi (NZL/JPN)
Bowman: Josh Salthouse (NZL)/George Anyon (NZL)

Skipper/Helm: Sébastien Rogues (FRA)
Tactician: Gurvan Bontemps (FRA)
Mainsail trimmer: Jules Bidegaray (FRA)
Headsail trimmer: Antoine Joubert (FRA)
Bowman: Benjamin Amiot (FRA)

Team Tilt (SUI)
Skipper/Helm: Sebastien Schneiter (SUI)
Rake trimmer: Jéremy Bachelin (SUI)
Mainsail Trimmer: Nils Theuninck (SUI)/Rigot Guillaume (SUI)
Headsail Trimmer: Jocelyn Keller (SUI)/Florian Trüb (SUI)
Bowman: Arthur Cevey (SUI)

NZL Sailing Team (NZL)
Skipper/helm: Logan Dunning Beck (NZL)
Mainsail trimmer: Harry Hull (NZL)/Isaac McHardie (NZL)
Trimmer: Isaac McHardie (NZL)/Harry Hull (NZL)
Bowman: Matthew Kempkers (NZL)
Foil trimmer: Luca Brown (NZL)

Event detailsFacebook

2017 Extreme Sailing Series™ calendar
March 8-11 – Muscat, Oman
April 28-May 1 – Qingdao, China
June 29-July 2 – Madeira Islands, Portugal
July 20-23 – Europe
August 10-13 – Hamburg, Germany
August 25-28 – Cardiff, UK
October 19-22 – San Diego, USA
Nov 30-Dec 3 – Los Cabos, Mexico

Background: The Extreme Sailing Series is in its eleventh 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.

Source: ESS

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