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Act 2 in Lagos: Red Bull Sailing returns to the site of their capsize

by MPG 28 Jul 01:56 PDT 28 July - 1 August 2021
Wet ride on board Red Bull Sailing Team. - GC32 Oman Cup day 3 © Sailing Energy / GC32 Racing Tour

All eyes on Austrian team aiming to improve on Act 1 podium as Outteridge steps in for legendary helmsman Hagara.

If Red Bull Sailing fans thought that the opener of this year's GC32 Racing Tour was a thriller, they ain't seen nothing yet. After coming back from a big capsize to earn second place at Act 1 in Lagos, Portugal, the Austrian team returns for Act 2 in the same exciting location. Only this time, they'll have to take on the elite field without sailing icon Roman Hagara. Nonetheless, with three Olympic champions on board, including Australia's Nathan Outteridge taking the helm, they aim to heat up their rivalry with defending tour champions Alinghi (SUI).

When the GC32 Racing Tour opener concluded in Lagos on 4 July, Red Bull Sailing had proven themselves to be the favorites to challenge two-time America's Cup winners Alinghi for the 2021 title. The Austrian team made a remarkable recovery after a windblown capsize to secure second place behind the Swiss sailors. Now, as the high-speed foiling catamarans prepare to fly in Lagos again this week for Act 2, Red Bull Sailing's skipper and helmsman Roman Hagara is in Tokyo to coach the new generation on Nacras and 49ers. Enter Nathan Outteridge.

"We couldn't feel luckier to have Nathan stepping in on helm," says Hans Peter Steinacher, who won two Olympic golds with Hagara and shares in the leadership of Red Bull Sailing as tactician. "Not only is he a world and Olympic champion, as well as an America's Cup helmsman, but he knows what it takes to compete at the highest level on a GC32."

Having back-to-back races in the same location is a rarity in the GC32 Racing Tour, and the extra opportunity for training has proven especially valuable for Red Bull Sailing, as Outteridge isn't the only new face on the team. Joining him and Steinacher - as well as Mark Spearman (AUS), who helped take the Austrian boat to third place overall in the previous season of the GC32 Racing Tour - will be Iain Jensen (AUS), who won Olympic gold and silver with Outteridge, and Great Britain's Neil Hunter, a Red Bull Youth America's Cup winner. Both have substantial America's Cup experience.

Steinacher explains, "The boat was thoroughly checked over after the capsize, and now we've got it back, fine-tuned and ready to race. We arrived here early for training sessions, and already we can feel things starting to gel. We're fully motivated, and the goal for this act is to put ourselves in as strong a position as possible for Roman's return at the third regatta in Italy."

In addition to Red Bull Sailing and Alinghi, the 2021 lineup for the GC32 Racing Tour includes established contenders such as France's Zoulou, as well as newcomers like Denmark's Team Rockwool Racing, who captured third at the season opener. Because the 2021 roster is anticipated to be flexible as relaxation of travel rules allows more opponents to join, organizers determined that teams must enter at least three regattas to appear on the annual leaderboard.

Adding to the anticipation: Hagara and Steinacher have announced that 2021 will be the final season of their storied competitive career, and the entire team are giving their all to make it memorable. Act 2 of the GC32 Racing Tour opens on Wednesday, 28 July, and continues through Sunday, 1 August.

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