Muscat: Two-time Olympic gold medalists Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher will lead the Red Bull Sailing Team in one of the sport’s fastest, most hotly contested circuits, the Extreme Sailing Series (ESS).
The introduction of new GC32 foiling catamarans in 2016 meshed with the mindset of the Austrian innovators, who delivered a powerfully consistent campaign to stand on the podium in seven of eight regattas and claim third place overall.
But with the level of sailing at an all-time high and a two-time America’s Cup winner in the mix, the foiling will be furious. Red Bull Sailing will need to fly across the season if they want to clinch the elusive championship.
The Extreme Sailing Series brings together the world’s best sailing talent from all disciplines – World Champions and Round the World sailing greats as well as America’s Cup winners and Olympic heroes.
In eight stops across three continents in 2017, the stadium racing format will bring the action right to the public, and with the super-light GC32s capable of reaching almost 40 knots (74 kph, 46 mph) as they lift off the water and “fly,” the competition is tight and the spectacle is breathtaking.
“The 2017 season is going to be more competitive than ever before,” said Hagara, noting that the teams are now familiarized with how the GC32s handle in a variety of conditions. “And to be successful, we will have to beat the two-time America’s Cup champion Alinghi”.
As the defending Extreme Sailing Series titleholders, the Swiss syndicate is the season favorite, and second-place Oman Air is back as well.
Hagara and Steinacher, however, are two of the sport’s most experienced sailors, with background in the America’s Cup World Series in addition to their Olympic triumphs, three Extreme Sailing Series overall podiums, and many other achievements.
Joining them are three graduates of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup: Trimmer Stewart Dodson (NZL) and bowman Adam Piggott (GBR) are championship-winners who contributed to Red Bull Sailing’s medal effort last year, while at the mainsheet, Will Tiller (NZL) is a young newcomer who has already earned a World title.
The series will kick off on March 8-11 in Muscat, where the action will be a mix of signature stadium racing and coastal racing against the stunning setting of the Old Town. Next up, Qingdao, China, where supreme expertise is required to master the ever-changing weather conditions. In the heat of summer, the GC32s return to Portugal’s Madeira Islands, where variable winds push tactical skills to the limit, and then in July the season will reach its midpoint in a European host city yet to be revealed.
The drama will intensify as the series returns to Hamburg, Germany, one of the tightest and most thrilling stadiums, before stopping at Cardiff, UK, where the enclosed bay will provide an ideal venue for spectators over a bank holiday weekend in August. And in the fall, the season reaches its climax in North America, first at picture-perfect San Diego, California, USA, before moving on to the series’ first-ever stop at spectacular Los Cabos, Mexico, where the champions will be crowned at “Land’s End.”
Steinacher pointed out that unlike 2016, when the team lacked pre-season time with the new GC32, this year they had a productive training camp, and the technical team has been able to get the boat in “perfect condition.”
He added: “I believe the experience that Roman and I bring to the table combined with our young guns can be the winning formula for 2017. We’re looking forward to a year full of great sailing in exciting locations.”