From the 19-22 March, the blue waters of Muscat, Oman hosted the international Extreme Sailing Series - the second Act of the 2014 global tour that attracts the world’s best sailors to race on the short, sharp Stadium-style racecourses.
Fans of the Series are more accustomed to seeing 11 high-performance carbon-fibre catamarans go head to head at speeds of up to an incredible 56kph - but spectators in Muscat were treated to a different kind of show, when Gaastra Team Rider Tom Buggy (GBR) challenged the high-speed Land Rover Extreme 40 to a drag race, to find out who would have the edge.
Tom Buggy and the Land Rover Extreme 40 - © Lloyd Images
British rider Buggy, who is normally part of the Land Rover sailing team, lined up against his teammates in a ‘boat versus board’ head to head, in 7-9 knots of breeze and flat water – just enough for his 17 meter Jet and race board to take on the punishing three mile round course.
Buggy explained: 'I kited out 500metres or so to meet the boat which was circling waiting for me to dial up and start and before I knew it, we were off at full speed. I pulled up from leeward so I was just in front of the boat and all I could hear was the full carbon 40-foot catamaran carving the water behind me and the winches groaning as the boat loaded up in the breeze. Suddenly I felt pretty small and the realisation of me falling off and getting run over was becoming a real worry.'
Extreme Sailing Series 2014. Act 2 - © Lloyd Images
'After around a mile and half, I gybed off ready for our blast back to the event site but as soon as the boat turned behind me the 63-foot high mainsail created a huge wind shadow and stopped me dead. In a blink, the boat was already 100metres ahead and I had to work super hard in the wind shadow and light breeze to get the drive from my fins and catch up. With half a mile to our finish, I just managed to draw the boat back in - although the guys on board made it look effortless to blast fully powered, whilst I had to work every metre of the track, with my legs burning just to keep the drive from by board. We will settle for a draw – this time!'
The next stop for the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series, is Qingdao, China 1-4 May, where Buggy will be taking on the Land Rover Extreme 40 challenge again – and this time, there will be no second place. Both board and boat will be linked with GPS tracking, bring the next battle closer to the fans. Watch this space.