With the America’s Cup entering a season that’s marked by plenty of behind-the-scenes action but little on-the-water activity, many top sailors and skippers are turning their attention to the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series as a way to stay sharp on two hulls. This week, Ben Ainslie, Great Britain’s most famous sailor and the Cup-winning tactician aboard Oracle Team USA during their impressive AC34 sudden-death comeback, has announced his return to the circuit with his own 'Ben Ainslie Racing' team. Franck Cammas, skipper of 'Groupama Team France' and Ernesto Bertarelli, skipper of 'Alinghi', will also be competing, in addition to the other usual suspects involved with this highly competitive circuit.
Sydney, Australia will host the final Act of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series on 11-14 December.
According to the Extreme Sailing Series’ schedule, the tour will visit eight different countries over the course of the next twelve months, starting in Singapore (February 20-23) and concluding in Sydney (December 11-14).
The 2014 Extreme Sailing Series skippers pictured here on the Millennium Bridge in central London as part of the series launch at the 2014 London Boat Show. Ben Ainslie, Franck Cammas, Leigh McMillan, Rob Greenhalgh, Roman Hagara, Pierre Yves,Jes Gram-Hansen /Rasmus Kostner, Jérome Clerc and Seve Jarvin
'I remember that it is crazy racing,' said Ainslie about his return to the circuit. 'Anyone who has seen the Series-or taken part in it–will tell you that the style of the courses, the speed of the boats and the number of boats on any side of the course at one time, means there is a lot of action and a lot of potential for crashes and incidents. So it makes for exciting racing and you really have to be on your toes.'
While Ainslie might hold more Olympic medals than any other sailor, he’s quick to point out that the Extreme Sailing Series represents an entirely different style of sailing than the impressive work that he has mastered on Finns, Lasers and even AC72s. 'There are some strong teams that have been going at it for some time. You look at Leigh [McMillan, skipper of 'The Wave, Muscat'] – he and his team have been the standout performers for the past two seasons. Then there’s the likes of Alinghi. So you look at the talent out there and the history they have in this Series and it feels like we’re the new kids on the block.'
Get the full story from the Extreme Sailing Series, inside this issue, and stay tuned to the website for coverage of the racing, once the 2014 season hoves closer into view.
Also extreme but of a completely different nature, word has broken that former Olympian and match-racing ace Sally Barkow has been selected to sail aboard the all-women’s 'Team SCA' in the next Volvo Ocean Race. According to reports, Barkow and the other members of 'Team SCA' have undergone rigorous tryout and team-sailing sessions to ensure both the right set of sailing skills and the correct blend of personalities make it onboard the team’s raceboat.
Team SCA, Sally Barkow and Justine Mettraux
'This is definitely really exciting,' commented Barkow. 'I feel that SCA is providing an incredible opportunity here to compete on an equal level with the other teams in this race. There are only nine months left to the start, so we are really now on the home straight and have everything to train and play for.'
The one-design Volvo Ocean 65 keel riding on lift generated by the angled canting keel
'Team SCA' is slated to remain at their training base in Lanzarote, Spain, where they are enjoying a two-boat program, a great coaching staff and other training resources. Also, the team plans to enter some longer distance races prior to the start of their around-the-world adventure this fall. Get the full scoop, inside, and be sure to follow the website for the latest news on the VOR as the clock winds down to its October 11 start date.
Race 7 Day 6 - Brisbane in sight for final teams - Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2013/2014
Also inside, don’t miss the latest news from the upcoming ISAF World Cup Miami (January 27-February 1), the recent Star Sailor’s League Finals, the Clipper round the World Race and-for anyone in need of a jolt of Vitamin D on this cold January morning-the upcoming St. Maarten Heineken Regatta (March 7-9).
May the four winds blow you safely home,