Some 34 Extreme Sailing Series containers, housing the Extreme 40 racing multihulls, support vehicles and the huge amount of event paraphernalia needed to stage one of the world’s largest spectator-friendly sailing grand prix, will arrive this weekend in Saint Petersburg courtesy of logistics partner, GAC Pindar.
Over the next seven days the riverbanks and waters of the Neva will be transformed into the temporary residence for the assembly of the fleet of Extreme 40s ahead of the four days of Stadium Racing, 26-29 June. The Race Village is located right in the heart of Saint Petersburg on Zayachii Island, against a historical backdrop that includes the world-famous Palace Embankment and the Peter and Paul Fortress, between the famous Troitskiy and Drovtsovyy Bridges. At the halfway stage of the globe-trotting 2014 season, Act 4 is expected to throw up a mix of challenging conditions for the sailors, with strong tidal currents and a compact racecourse demanding maximum concentration, in what will be one of the biggest scale professional sailing events ever held in Russia.
Needless to say, the Russian public will undoubtedly get fully behind the two home nation teams – Gazprom Team Russia and RussianFirst. Gazprom Team Russia skipper Igor Lisovenko – who represented Russia at two Olympic Games and is currently fifth on the overall Series leaderboard - shared his local knowledge to explain what the fleet can expect. 'We have a week to go and the weather promises to be very tricky. Add the current to the mix and you’ll have a formula for one of the most dramatic Acts so far.' Lisovenko continued to talk about the significance of the Act for his team. 'As we’re approaching the season’s halfway stage we aim to move up the leaderboard and defend our position from our competitors. Also, it is important to us to perform well in home waters as our fans expect us to. So this puts an additional pressure to us. Nevertheless, I’m confident in our team as we continue to improve and we are ready to deliver the best result in Act 4.'
Russia’s top multihull and Olympic sailors will compete with the invitational team RussianFirst, led by Olympic silver medallist Georgy Shayduko. Shayduko commented: 'To have two home boats competing in the Russian debut of the Series shows that sailing in our country is gaining popularity. Racing in front of our fans gives us lots of motivation and we will use that motivation to fight for a good result. I am sure not only the sailors, but also the fans on the shore, will enjoy the racing in Russia.'
GAC Pindar continue their crew rotation with Team Australia, welcoming 470 Olympic gold medallist Nathan Wilmot as skipper and helm in his first ever Extreme 40 Act. The team also welcomes Nacra 17 and Red Bull Youth America’s Cup sailor James Wierzbowski, while Ed Smyth, Troy Tindill and Seve Jarvin remain onboard. 'It’s an honour to get the chance to sail with a team like GAC Pindar. James and I have been training hard with Ed, Troy and Seve ahead of Saint Petersburg and we’re confident that we can move quickly up the leaderboard. We’ve put the hard work in on and off the water and can already see the results in training, so it’s now up to us to replicate that in competition,' commented Wilmot.
Peter Burling remains in the driving seat of Emirates Team New Zealand and, after coaching them for much of the season, the Kiwi team will welcome their long-time America’s Cup tactician Ray Davies onboard as mainsail trimmer. Talking tactics, Davies citied what he thinks is key to success. 'The racing rules are very important on the tight courses, we have found the best strategy is to keep out of trouble. Getting a good start, be ready for changing conditions (as we will be basically sailing down a wide street) as the wind will be turbulent, keep the manoeuvres to a minimum. There has been big things happening in Russian sailing over the last 10 years so it good to go there and bring our sport to the people on the street, literally!'
Three young sailors will be welcomed into the ‘fifth crew’ position for the Russian Act, including ISAF Youth Worlds gold medallist Phil Sparks in place of Pippa Wilson on J.P. Morgan BAR, as Wilson focuses on her Nacra 17 campaign. Groupama sailing team will welcome youth multihull World Champion Romain Motteau, who last sailed in the Series in 2012, while Stuart Pollard returns to call with tactics with Alinghi, replacing Anna Tunnicliffe. Alinghi’s technical team, led by David Nikles, has been applying the famous Swiss precision to make vital repairs to their Extreme 40 following the crash on the final day at Act 3 in Qingdao. The Swiss team will have their work cut out to defend their position at the top of the Series leaderboard, with the rest of the fleet sure to be applying the pressure as the 2014 Series reaches its halfway stage.
The crews on The Wave, Muscat, SAP Extreme Sailing Team, Realteam, Oman Air and Red Bull Sailing Team remain unchanged.
As part of its extended partnership with the Series in Saint Petersburg, SAP, who last week were announced as Host Venue Partners, is launching the ‘SAP Speed King Challenge’. Using the SAP Analytics to measure the speed of each boat, the fastest Extreme 40 team of the day will be crowned the SAP Speed King.
The event will be hosted by the Saint Petersburg Yacht Club and fans around the world can watch the racing live from the 27 June, from 1600-1730 local time in Saint Petersburg, 1300-1430 BST / 1400-1530 CEST at Extreme Sailing Series
with expert commentary from Land Rover Global Brand Ambassador Hannah White and former Extreme Sailing Series champion David ‘Freddie Carr’. Act 4, Saint Petersburg presented by Land Rover crew lists:
Skipper/Helm: Morgan Larson (USA)
Tactician: Stuart Pollard (AUS)
Mainsail Trim: Pierre-Yves Jorand (SUI)
Headsail Trim: Nils Frei (SUI)
Bowman: Yves Detrey (SUI) Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)
Skipper/Helm: Peter Burling (NZL)
Floater: Edwin Delaat (NZL)
Mainsail Trim: Ray Davies (NZL)
Headsail Trim: Blair Tuke (NZL)
Bowman: Jeremy Lomas (NZL) GAC Pindar (AUS)
Skipper/helm: Nathan Wilmot
Tactician/Mainsheet: Seve Jarvin
Trimmers: Troy Tindill and Ed Smyth
Bowman: James Wierzbowski Gazprom Team Russia (RUS)
Skipper/Tactician: Igor Lisovenko (RUS)
Helm: Paul Campbell-James (GBR)
Mainsail Trim: Alister Richardson (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)
Tactician: Paul Goodison (GBR)
Mainsail Trim: Nick Hutton (GBR)
Headsail Trim: Phil Sparks (GBR)
Bowman: Matt Cornwell (GBR) Oman Air (OMA)
Skipper/Helm: Rob Greenhalgh (GBR)
Mainsail Trim: Kyle Langford (AUS)
Headsail Trim: Tom Johnson (AUS)
Bowmen: Hashim Al Rashdi (OMA)/Musab Al Hadi (OMA) Realteam (SUI)
Skipper/Mainsail Trim: Jérôme Clerc (SUI)
Helm: Arnaud Psarofaghis (SUI)
Tactician: Denis Girardet (SUI)
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: Nick Blackman (NZL) RussianFirst (RUS)
Skipper/Tactician: Georgy Shayduko (RUS)
Helm: Sergey Dzhienbaev (RUS)
Mainsail Trim: Pavel Kalinchev (RUS)
Headsail Trim: Leonid Kazinets (RUS)
Bowman: Pavel Karachov (RUS) 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: Peter Wibroe (DEN)
Bowman: Nicolai Sehested (DEN) 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)