Anticipation in the Welsh Capital is building ahead of Act 5 of the Extreme Sailing Series. The fleet of 11 high-performance Extreme 40 catamarans are preparing to flex their giant sails, fine tune their speed machines and bring Stadium Racing to Cardiff Bay, as the headline Act to the Harbour Festival, 22-25 August.
The Act, which is presented by Series Main Partner Land Rover, will see the fleet launch into the second half of the 2014 Series, and the 55 elite level sailors are raring to race, having last faced each other eight weeks ago in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
One man who knows the Cardiff stadium better than most is The Wave, Muscat’s skipper, Leigh McMillan, having finished first and second in 2013 and 2012 respectively.
'Cardiff as a venue is very tricky racing. With big buildings all around the course, the wind is a big challenge and I am sure this year it won't fail to deliver a diverse, challenging and exciting event.' In 2013, 120,000 spectators crammed into the Bay to watch the racing, something McMillan relished. 'Having a crowd while racing is a big buzz, and racing on a Bank Holiday in Cardiff will definitely provide an excellent atmosphere to raise the tempo on the racecourse. It should be a lot of fun.'
Cardiff will see significant crew changes for nine of the teams, including onboard the UK home boat, J.P.Morgan BAR. Britain’s Paul Campbell-James – a two times winner of the Extreme Sailing Series – has transferred from Team Russia to Ben Ainslie’s team, replacing Paul Goodison as mainsail trimmer. Pippa Wilson will also be absent from the line-up for this event, replaced by Welsh lad and Team GB 49er sailor Bleddyn Mon, previously of The Wave, Muscat, who is sure to bring in the support of the home crowd.
Looking ahead to the event, Ainslie commented:
'We are expecting some solid, challenging racing on a small, compact racecourse. It’s going to be a tricky venue for the sailing but stadium racing at it’s best. It's also bank holiday weekend so we are hoping for a strong turn out and are looking forward to racing amongst the home crowds in the heart of the bay.'
Kiwi Phil Robertson, who has achieved huge success in the World Match Racing Tour, will replace Campbell-James at the helm of Gazprom Team Russia. Having last sailed in the circuit in 2013, with ChinaSpirit, Robertson is eager to get back on the stick. 'I really hope I can make the same impact as I did last year with China Spirit. I will be as prepared as possible and am lucky to have a great team behind me and the experience of Cardiff from last year. There are definitely a few tricks to sailing in Cardiff. I have no doubt all the teams would have done their study on Cardiff.'
Phil Robertson will be back racing in the circuit in Cardiff as he joins Gazprom Team Russia as helmsman. - © Lloyd Images Click Here to view large photo
SAP Extreme Sailing Team have also announced two additions to their Extreme Sailing Series challenge, with America’s Cup sailor Christian Kamp (DEN) and experienced Extreme 40 sailor Brad Farrand (NZL) strengthening their line up. Co-skipper Rasmus Kostner said of the new additions: 'We are very pleased to welcome Christian and Brad to the team, it will ensure we continue to build on our current position and challenge for the Extreme Sailing Series podium, which has always been our goal.' Going on to talk about Cardiff Bay, Kostner continued: 'Cardiff is a great racecourse, we've performed well there in the past. I believe good starting and boat handling will be key especially if we experience the windy conditions as in previous years. Cardiff is a great place to sail and we appreciate the large numbers of spectators that turn out to watch the racing.'
Cardiff will also see the welcome return of Britain’s Hugh Styles to the fleet, as headsail trimmer with GAC Pindar. Styles, an experienced cat sailor having represented Team GB at the Sydney 2000 Olympics in the Tornado and as a five-times medallist from the F18 World Championships, last competed in the Series in 2011 and has been a regular face on the circuit since the inaugural Series in 2006 as skipper of Basilica. 2014 has been somewhat of a baptism of fire for the Aussies, who are currently 11th on the leaderboard, and their Olympic champion skipper Nathan Wilmot hopes Hugh will be able to help to boost the team up the rankings. 'We learnt a lot as a team in Russia in some interesting conditions. Cardiff will be another challenge with different conditions so it should be good fun again. We have Hugh Styles joining us for this regatta and it will be good to get someone elses ideas and keep improving. Hopefully we can move ourselves a little bit higher up the score board in Cardiff and enjoy the regatta there.'
Dean Barker will return to take over the reigns of Emirates Team New Zealand once more, after giving them up to his young protégée Peter Burling in Qingdao and Saint Petersburg, where Burling managed to clock up two consecutive podium places.
Anna Tunnicliffe will return to the crew of Alinghi for the UK leg of the global tour in Cardiff Bay, Wales - © Lloyd Images Click Here to view large photo
Current Series leaders Alinghi will welcome back Anna Tunnicliffe to the role of tactician, off the back of her recent Cross Fit Games success, while Red Bull Sailing Team have recruited Shaun Mason, previously of GAC Pindar, to replace Nick Blackman, Realteam will welcome Bruno Barbarin back to the team and Aussie Ted Hackney will make his debut with Oman Air. Groupama sailing team and The Wave, Muscat remain unchanged.
Organisers of the Extreme Sailing Series, OC Sport, have also announced the addition of a new multi-year supplier deal with AkzoNobel – a leading global paints and coatings company - to further strengthen the growing family of Series partners. AkzoNobel will provide coating solutions for the Extreme 40 fleet with the best support to refit the boats every year. Read more here
Cardiff Harbour Festival hosts Extreme Sailing Series Act 5, Cardiff, presented by Land Rover crew lists:
The biggest crowds the Extreme Sailing Series has ever witnessed flocked to Cardiff Bay over the UK August Bank Holiday weekend in 2013 - © Lloyd Images Click Here to view large photo
Skipper/Helm: Morgan Larson (USA)
Tactician: Anna Tunnicliffe (USA)
Mainsail Trim: Pierre-Yves Jorand (SUI)
Headsail Trim: Nils Frei (SUI)
Bowman: Yves Detrey (SUI) Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)
Skipper/Helm: Dean Barker (NZL)
Floater: Edwin Delaat (NZL)
Mainsail Trim: Ray Davies (NZL)
Headsail Trim: James Dagg (NZL)
Bowman: Jeremy Lomas (NZL) GAC Pindar (AUS)
Skipper/Helm: Nathan Wilmot (AUS)
Tactician/Mainsail Trim: Seve Jarvin (AUS)
Headsail Trimmers: Hugh Styles (GBR)/Ed Smyth (AUS)
Bow: James Wierzbowski (AUS) Gazprom Team Russia (RUS)
Skipper/Tactician: Igor Lisovenko (RUS)
Helm: Phil Robertson (NZL)
Mainsail Trim: Matt Adams (GBR)
Headsail Trim: Pete Cumming (GBR)
Bowman: Aleksey Kulakov (RUS) Groupama Sailing Team (FRA)
Skipper/Helm: Franck Cammas (FRA)
Tactician: Tanguy Cariou (FRA)
Mainsail Trim: Romain Motteau (FRA)
Headsail Trim: Thierry Fouchier (FRA)
Bowman: Devan Le Bihan (FRA) J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR)
Skipper/Helm: Ben Ainslie (GBR)
Floater: Bleddyn Mon (GBR)
Mainsail Trim: Paul Campbell-James (GBR)
Headsail Trim: Nick Hutton (GBR)
Bowman: Matt Cornwell (GBR) Oman Air (OMA)
Skipper/Helm: Rob Greenhalgh (GBR)
Mainsail Trim: Kyle Langford (AUS)
Headsail Trim: Ted Hackney (AUS)
Bowmen: Hashim Al Rashdi (OMA)/Musab Al Hadi (OMA) Realteam (SUI)
Skipper/Mainsail Trim: Jérôme Clerc (SUI)
Helm: Arnaud Psarofaghis (SUI)
Tactician: Bruno Barbarin (FRA)
Headsail Trim: Bryan Mettraux (SUI)
Bowman: Thierry Wasem (SUI) Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT)
Skipper/Helm: Roman Hagara (AUT)
Tactician: Hans-Peter Steinacher (AUT)
Floater: Stewart Dodson (NZL)
Headsail Trim: Mark Bulkeley (GBR)
Bowman: Shaun Mason (GBR) SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN)
Co-Skipper/Helm: Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN)
Co-Skipper/Tactician: Rasmus Køstner (DEN)
Mainsail Trim: Thierry Douillard (FRA)
Headsail Trim: Christian Kamp (DEN)
Bowman: Nicolai Sehested (DEN)/Brad Farrand (NZL) The Wave, Muscat (OMA)
Skipper/Helm: Leigh McMillan (GBR)
Tactician: Sarah Ayton (GBR)
Mainsail Trim: Pete Greenhalgh (GBR)
Headsail Trim: Kinley Fowler (NZL)
Bowman: Nasser Al Mashari (OMA) Extreme Sailing Series