Extreme Sailing Series™ 2012 Act 2 gets underway in less than one week, 17th to 20th April, when the iconic city of Qingdao will play host to the nine competing international teams. The fleet will go head-to-head as the Series returns to the 2008 Olympic venue for the second consecutive year, a venue that lends itself perfectly to the stadium style racing.
The Omani-flagged teams Oman Air and The Wave, Muscat have the advantage as they head to China, having scored a one-two respectively on their home waters during the opening round of the Series. Morgan Larson and his Oman Air crew snatched the win from Pierre Pennec’s men on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild during the final race of the final day, and for pre-season favourite Pennec, the gloves are well and truly off. 'Last year I entered into Act 2 in Qingdao too conservatively. This year, it will be different. To be ahead of the game we will need to take some risks. The level of the fleet will be surely higher than what we saw in Muscat a few weeks ago.' Pennec continued, 'Qingdao is a very interesting playing field that demands that every opportunity is seized and to be versatile.'
Qingdao holds some very vivid memories for many of the sailors, many of who represented their nations on these waters at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Amongst them is Red Bull Sailing Team skipper and double Olympic gold medallist Roman Hagara, who has fond memories of sailing in Qingdao. 'I am looking forward to the race in Qingdao. It is like a second hometown for me. We spent a month in China before the Olympic Games for training on the Tornado, and it was great to participate at the Olympics of course.'
Red Bull Sailing Team was one of four teams to capsize in Qingdao in 2011, during an unprecedented day that has become one of the most memorable in the history of the Series. Ian Williams and the British GAC Pindar were also amongst those to fall victim to the extraordinary conditions in Fushan Bay as Williams remembered, 'Qingdao threw everything at us last year and consequently was a huge learning experience for the whole team. This year we will be much better prepared for whatever comes our way.' Williams and the team put in a solid performance during Act 1, finishing in fifth place, and is optimistic they have more to give. Williams continued, 'Last year Luna Rossa won the Qingdao Act after finishing fifth in Oman which shows that things can turn around fast and certainly we’ll be looking for an improvement from our Oman finishing position.'
The public is expected to be out in force during the public days (18-20 April) supporting Chinese sailors Kit Cheng and Xiaqun Song onboard local boat China Team. A 2008 Olympian in the Yngling class, Xiaqun is one of only two women competing – the other is Britain’s Rachel Williamson on The Wave, Muscat – and as a Qingdao resident, Xiaqun had some local insight to share with the fleet. 'Last year a few boats had problems during one windy day, but I would say mostly it will be light and tricky weather again this time. I was on the Race Committee boat last year and everybody gets a chance to lead the fleet because the conditions vary so they can favour different teams at different times. The racing takes place close to shore which gives an excellent view for the public.'
There will be a few new faces on the start line in Qingdao as four of the teams announce crew changes. Regular Alinghi crew Pierre-Yves Jorand from Switzerland will be taking over as skipper from Ernesto Bertarelli, paving the way for 2011 Team TILT crew Charles Favre (SUI) to jump onboard as helm. 2010 Danish sailor of the year and World Match Racing Tour champion from the same year, Christian Kamp, will take over from Britain’s Simon Hiscocks on the Danish entry. Making their Extreme 40 debuts in Qingdao are both Patrick Aucour, who will join Loick Peyron’s ZouLou in place of Antoine Joubert, and Romain Petit who will replace Adeline Chatenet on the all-French team Groupe Edmond de Rothschild. For full crew lists click here.
Fans can watch the race coverage from Qingdao online and enjoy all the action from the multi-camera coverage, complete with commentary by Britain’s best-known sailing commentator, Richard Simmonds. Race coverage will be streamed via the official website from Wednesday 18 April. Times to be confirmed.
In our second give away this season, Extreme 40 fans have the chance to win an official Extreme Sailing Series™ jacket, exclusively designed by Marinepool, the Official Technical and Lifestyle Clothing Supplier to the Series. Enter the competition online now!
Act 1 highlights on Sky Sports The world’s biggest watersports programme, Watersports World, including exclusive footage from Act 1 when Oman Air clinched victory in Muscat, will air on Sky Sports 4 tomorrow, (18 April)