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Red Bull Sailing tie on points for third at GC32 Racing Tour 2021 Act 2

by MPG 2 Aug 00:26 PDT 28 July - 1 August 2021
GC32 Lagos Cup 2 © Sailing Energy / Joao Costa Ferreira

Nathan Outteridge takes helm for absent Roman Hagara, partners with tactician Hans Peter Steinacher to lead Austrian team in windblown racing.

As the GC32 Racing Tour returned to Lagos, Portugal for the second consecutive act, winds that had pushed Austria's Red Bull Sailing into a capsize at the season opener once again drove the catamarans to the limit in a racecourse packed with top teams. Alinghi (SUI) finished first, Black Star Sailing (SUI) was second, and Zoulou (FRA) and Red Bull Sailing were tied in the points for third, with the last step of the podium awarded to the French. Here's what you need to know.

Racing in Lagos for the second time in less than a month, the Red Bull Sailing Team was looking to build on their brave second-place finish at the season opener of the GC32 Racing Tour, which had confirmed them as early rivals to the defending champions, two-time America's Cup winners Alinghi. With Red Bull Sailing's iconic skipper, Roman Hagara, serving as high performance coach for Austria's sailors in Tokyo, Australia's Nathan Outteridge stepped in to take the helm for Lagos 2, quickly developing a rapport with Hagara's longtime sailing partner and co-leader of Red Bull Sailing, tactician Hans Peter Steinacher.

In Lagos 2, wind gusts were a fierce additional opponent. The penultimate day of racing, Saturday, was unprecedented in the GC32 Racing Tour, with winds of more than 20 kts gusting to over 25 kts. All six boats reached speeds of more than 37 kts in the close quarters of the racecourse, and Red Bull Sailing clocked 37.7 kts, equivalent to 69.8 km/h.

Red Bull Sailing was in the mix for the podium throughout the regatta, missing out by the narrowest of margins as they tied in the points with Zoulou and a countback of race wins officially gave third place to the French. Now, after two events, Alinghi have the momentum with two wins, but four other teams have claimed regatta podiums, and there's everything to play for.

Outteridge, a world champion whose experience includes helmsman in the America's Cup, had only a few days' training with the Austrian team in Lagos. He commented: "Lagos is great sailing conditions, perfect for these boats, perfect for foiling. Good top speeds, good racing. Overall we had a good week, but the result wasn't where we wanted to finish. I think a bit more time in the boat might helped, for me personally."

In addition to Outteridge, the Red Bull Sailing crew included two other new faces with America's Cup experience: Iain Jensen (AUS), who won Olympic gold and silver with Outteridge, and Neil Hunter (GBR), a Red Bull Youth America's Cup winner. Steinacher and Mark Spearman (AUS), were the only members from the Austrian team's third place overall finish in the 2019 tour.

Steinacher, who captured two Olympic championships with Hagara in the Tornado class, commented: "It was a boat with three new people on board out of five, and while we gave it everything we had and were able to sail on a high level, that's not enough to race against Alinghi and boats with years and years in the same setup. But at Worlds in September we'll come back with our original team."

Hagara and Steinacher have announced that 2021 is their last competitive season, making anticipation especially high for Hagara's return to the Red Bull Sailing helm at Act 3 of the GC32 Racing Tour, the GC32 World Championship in Villasimius, Italy, on 15-19 September.

The GC32 is a 10m long (12m including bowsprit) foiling catamaran, and the tour's course configurations put an emphasis on allowing the boats to reach maximum speeds. The GC32 Racing Tour calendar includes four regattas in 2021, and competition will only get tighter as anticipated easing of global travel restrictions enables boats from outside Europe to re-join the current roster of six world-leading teams.

GC32 Racing Tour 2021 Act 2, Lagos, Portugal Results:

1. Alinghi (SUI) 30pts
2. Black Star Sailing Team (SUI) 32pts
3. Zoulou (FRA) 46pts
4. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 46pts
5. Team Rockwool Racing (DEN) 48pts
6. Swiss Foiling Academy (SUI) 71pts

Overall standings TBD, as teams must enter a minimum of three races to appear on the annual leaderboard.

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