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Extreme Sailing Series - Top female sailors on board

by Extreme Sailing Series on 4 Feb 2014
Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson, Yngling. Pre-Olympic Test Event 2007 © Skandia Team GBR http://media.skandiateamgbr.com
The Extreme Sailing Series will for the eighth consecutive year bring a wealth of sailing talent from America’s Cup superstars, Olympic medallists and offshore legends to the shores of eight iconic venues around the globe – and amongst them are some of the world’s most talented female sailors.

The ‘fifth sailor’ rule, introduced by Series organisers OC Sport in 2012, stipulates that one member of the crew must either be female, under 23, or classified as an amateur by ISAF. As a result, year on year the number of female sailors competing in the Series has grown, and has historically included the likes of double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson, the only woman to skipper a boat for a full season in 2008 with J.P. Morgan Asset Management -­- and the only female skipper to win an Act in Lake Lugano, Switzerland. 2014 will see the biggest influx of ‘girl power’ since the Series began – find out more about the women taking on the challenge below.

Sarah Ayton (GBR)
Team : The Wave, Muscat
Role: Tactician
Top three sailing achievements :
-­- Olympic gold medal – Beijing 2008 – Yngling with Pippa Wilson and Sarah Webb
-­- Olympic gold medal – Athens 2004 – Yngling with Shirley Robertson and Sarah Webb
-­- Yngling World Champion in 2008 and 2007

Britain’s double Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ayton will be making a welcome return to top level competitive sailing after a three-­-year break, joining the defending champions The Wave, Muscat. And she is more than ready for the challenge of what she describes as the ‘most high-­-performance’ sailing she has ever done. 'I'm honoured to be sailing with The Wave, Muscat and I am really looking forward to getting started. I'm sure the boys will agree with me that going into 2014 as defending champions doesn't add to the pressure, we'll be focusing on our own performance and taking one race at a time.'

As a novice to the Extreme 40, Sarah is currently in Singapore, Host Venue for Act one, where she will be putting in the training hours with the team in preparation for the elite level Stadium Racing that begins on the 20th February. 'My biggest challenge will be learning the in-­-boat routines and the different set plays around the course as well as learning what's possible in terms of boat on boat positioning and overall tactics.'

Sarah is best know as one of the worlds most formidable Yngling sailors, after first securing gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and then defending the title in 2008 winning her second gold in Beijing alongside J.P Morgan BAR’s Pippa Wilson. So, will there be any on-­-water rivalry between the two? Sarah says not. 'I'm really looking forward to it, it's been a while since Pippa and I have been on the same racecourse, thankfully now in something a bit faster than a Yngling!'

Pippa Wilson (GBR)
Team : J.P.Morgan BAR
Role : Trimmer
Top three sailing achievements :
-­- Olympic gold medal – Beijing 2008 – Yngling with Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb
-­-Fifth -­- 470 Worlds 2006 (Helm)
-­- Gold – 29er Youth Worlds 2001 (Helm)

Olympic champion Pippa Wilson will join J.P.Morgan BAR for the 2014 Series -­- a team that comes brimming with Olympic pedigree, with three gold medallists on board, including Pippa. But the Extreme Sailing Series presents a whole new challenge for the 27 year old. 'The Extreme Sailing Series is something I have watched many of my friends compete in over the last few years, so to be a part of it this year is very exciting for me.' She continued, 'I am completely new to the Extreme 40 and relatively new to catamaran sailing, but hopefully my background so far in the Nacra 17 and the other boats I’ve sailed will offer me some relevant insights into the extreme racing!'

After a short hiatus from competitive sailing, where Pippa took the opportunity to focus on other interests including a Sports Science degree at Chichester University, she’s now back on the water and has launched her next Olympic campaign for Rio 2016 in the Nacra 17 class. Talking about how the two campaigns will work together, Pippa explained: 'Fortunately the racing dates fit in very well with the Extreme circuit so hopefully we will be able to draw on some of the parallels between the two classes.'

In terms of the competition, Pippa has come against some of the other female stars before, including Nacra 17 sailor and Groupama Team France tactician, Sophie de Turckheim. 'I have no doubt that all of the competitors on the racecourse are going to be fierce competition. We are surrounded by the best of the best in terms of experience and talent, Sophie included, so it is an honour to race against and learn from such great sailors.'

Sophie de Turckheim (FRA)
Team: Groupama Team France
Role : Tactician on board
Top three sailing achievements :
-­- Silver -­- Laser Radial Worlds -­- 2005, 2006, 2009
-­- Silver -­- Laser Radial Europeans -­- 2008
-­- Gold -­- Laser Radial Worlds – Extreme Sailing Series

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