The Extreme Sailing Series reaches the halfway mark in just one week when eight Extreme 40 catamarans will go full throttle in one of the most compact and challenging Stadium Racecourses the Extreme 40s have ever raced on in Porto, Portugal.
Porto, Extreme Sailing Series
Current Series leaders Alinghi (SUI) are out to defend their position at the top of the leaderboard at the venue which in 2012 attracted the biggest crowds the Series has ever witnessed, and that temporary helm Morgan Larson described as 'one of the best events for both the crews on the water and also from a spectator point of view'. The fleet will be joined by wildcard entries Team Tilt (SUI) and ROFF Cascais Sailing Team (POR) ready for the first day of racing on Thursday 25 July. Follow all the action as it happens via the live video stream on the website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (#exss).
Four teams have reached the podium so far this year, (The Wave, Muscat, Red Bull Sailing Team, SAP Extreme Sailing Team and Alinghi) but the Swiss America’s Cup winners on Alinghi are the only team to have finished on the podium at all Acts. Cool as ever – and taking a break from kitesurfing in California to give his thoughts on the Act ahead - Morgan Larson, who will remain at the helm of Ernesto Bertarelli’s team for this Act, said: 'I wouldn’t say that leading the Series is added pressure, we’re just looking forward to the event. The confined racecourse brings a lot of challenges, so there may be collisions that will come our way. (Larson collided with SAP Extreme Sailing Team at the helm of Oman Air in 2012). Big winds equal great potentials and big challenges from the Douro River.' Alinghi will make one crew change with 23-year-old American Ben Lezin making his Extreme 40 debut replacing Stuart Pollard for this Act.
The shape of things at the top of the leaderboard is tantalizingly close, with Extreme 40 heavyweights The Wave, Muscat just one point behind Alinghi. After dominating the 2012 Series, McMillan admits this year he hasn’t had things all his way, sizing up his competition ahead of Porto, an Act he won in 2012. 'Alinghi is a very established team that includes some of the best sailors in the world so this combination is always dangerous. The standard is higher this year compared to last year’s. We have some very strong new teams who are learning how to race here and also dominate. They are getting stronger and pushing at the front now.'
One of those teams pushing hard is Will Tiller’s GAC Pindar who came within touching distance of the podium in Qingdao, only to lose out in the final race. 'We just need to keep doing what we are doing, steadily improving around the track and pushing the top teams,' commented Tiller, who added, 'We can’t wait to get into some more extreme racing, with breeze and a tight course. We will be pushing the boat and ourselves hard to get that podium result.'
Act 4, Porto, Extreme Sailing Series. Day 03. Images showing the fleet in front of crowds. Porto, Portugal. Credit: Lloyd Images
Both Team Tilt and ROFF Cascais Sailing Team will step into the Extreme 40s for the first time as part of their preparations for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup taking place in September, while Team Korea will be absent from this Act and hoping to return later in the Series. Racing on home waters, ROFF Cascais Sailing Team’s mainsail trimmer João Mello commented, 'We will approach one step at a time and try to improve as much as we can. This type pf racing is very intense, extremely challenging and with many boats. The Series is very competitive with some of the best sailors in the world and we expect to learn a lot.'
After three relatively light wind events, the teams are gearing up for the bigger breeze expected in Porto. Always analyzing the details and SAP sailing analytics is SAP Extreme Sailing Team’s tactician Rasmus Køstner. 'We perform well with bigger breeze so we welcome the challenge of more speed. We also look at historical wind statistics for the events, but there are no guaranties that conditions will be typical of the location or even emulate last year's conditions so we have a number of strategies to put into play to stay competitive.'
Crew Lists – Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 5 Porto
Skipper/Helm: Morgan Larson (USA) / Tactician: Ben Lezin (USA) / Mainsail Trimmer: Pierre-Yves Jorand (SUI) / Headsail Trimmer: Nils Frei (SUI) / Bowman: Yves Detrey (SUI)
Skipper/Helm: William Tiller (NZL) / Tactician: Brad Farrand (NZL) / Mainsail Trimmer: Stewart Dodson (NZL) / Headsail Trimmer: Harry Thurston (NZL) / Bowman: Shaun Mason (GBR)
To be confirmed.
Red Bull Sailing Team
Skipper/Helm: Roman Hagara (AUT) / Tactician: Hans Peter Steinacher (AUT) / Mainsail Trimmer: Matthew Adams (GBR) / Headsail Trimmer: Simon Cooke (NZL) / Bowman: Graeme Spence (AUS)
ROFF Cascais Sailing Team
Skipper/Tactician: António Mello (POR) / Helm: Bernardo Freitas (POR) / Mainsail Trimmer: João Mello (POR) / Headsail Trimmer: Ricardo Schedel (POR) / Bowman: João Matos Rosa (POR)
SAP Extreme Sailing Team
Co-Skipper/Helm: Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) / Co-Skipper/Tactician: Rasmus Køstner (DEN) / Mainsail trimmer: Peter Cumming (GBR) / Headsail Trimmer: Mikkel Røssberg (DEN) / Bowman: Nicolai Sehested (DEN)
Skipper/Helm: Lucien Cujean (SUI) / Tactician: Jocelyn Keller (SUI) / Mainsail trimmer: Jeremy Bachelin (SUI) / Headsail Trimmer: Thomas Mermod (SUI) / Bowman: Jonas Schagen (SUI)
The Wave, Muscat
Skipper/Helm: Leigh McMillan (GBR) / Tactician: Ed Smyth (NZL) / Mainsail Trimmer: Pete Greenhalgh (GBR) / Headsail Trimmer: Musab Al Hadi (OMA) / Bowman: Hashim Al Rashdi (OMA)
Extreme Sailing Seres website