The Extreme Sailing Series™ will bring its unique high-octane stadium-style sailing to Cardiff Bay for the sixth consecutive year from 25 – 28 August, for the sixth Act of the 2017 season.
The international fleet of seven GC32s will include British-flagged wildcard entry Team Extreme Wales, skippered by two-time British Olympian Stevie Morrison.
The ultimate Stadium Racing championship will headline the Cardiff Harbour Festival over the August Bank Holiday, with the free-entry Fan Zone, located next to the Norwegian Church, offering the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the thrilling racing.
The racecourse will be set metres from the shore and Race Director John Craig predicts plenty of foiling action from the world-class crews, with a forecast offering good winds through the weekend.
‘We have increased the size of the race area to allow us to give the boats more room to stretch their legs. Cardiff is known for its sea breeze so we’re expecting some great sailing and foiling,’ explained Craig.
Current season leader Oman Air, who won at the UK venue last season, will return to the Welsh capital spurred on by its recent victories in the two previous Acts in Barcelona and Hamburg. But skipper Phil Robertson, whose team includes Series veteran Brit Pete Greenhalgh, is taking nothing for granted.
‘We’ve got to turn up and work hard again. Cardiff is a very unique venue, probably with a lot of reaching and potentially a lot of breeze, so you have to set the boat up for that,’ Robertson said.
Hot on the heels of the Omani syndicate, and tied on points, is SAP Extreme Sailing Team, helmed by former World Match Racing Tour champion and America’s Cup sailor Adam Minoprio.
‘It’s another day, another puff, another wind shift and Cardiff will deliver what it delivers. We’ve just got to go there and sail well as a team. If we can do that, then none of the other teams can beat us,’ said Minoprio, who has helmed the Danish squad to two Act victories to match Robertson’s.
For Swiss team Alinghi, that lost its early grip on the leaderboard after a fourth in Act 4 and a disappointing sixth in Act 5, Cardiff offers an opportunity for redemption.
‘I think Cardiff will bring some really good racing and we will try to improve on our mistakes in Hamburg. We need to go out and take every race as a single race, see how it goes and try to improve,’ said the co-skipper of the 2016 winning team, Arnaud Psarofaghis.
Two podium finishes in the previous two Acts has kept Red Bull Sailing Team strongly in contention for a podium finish to the season, while NZ Extreme Sailing Team and Land Rover BAR Academy have their work cut out if they are to close the gap on the rest of the pack.
British-flagged Land Rover BAR Academy, who currently sit at the bottom of the leaderboard, will be hoping for home-field advantage.
‘It will be great to have the support of our home crowd, with the racing so close to the shore that we can hear them cheer. This really drives us on to work even harder to put on a good performance,’ said skipper and bowman Rob Bunce.
Fifth place NZ Extreme Sailing Team will try out a new crew line-up for the Act, with America’s Cup winning Emirates Team New Zealand sailor Josh Junior promoted to helm.
Stevie Morrison’s British wildcard squad, Team Extreme Wales, will include fellow Olympian Alain Sign, who placed sixth in the 49er in Rio, and James French, who is also a talented downhill skier. The 22-year-old Welshman Michael Beckett, a member of the British Sailing Team, and Martin Evans, 2015 national Laser champion, complete the roster.
Act 6, Cardiff, marks the fourth and final stage for the 2017 Flying Phantom Series, where the champion will be crowned. The international fleet of 13 will race from 10:00 to 14:00 daily, providing a festival of foiling for fans throughout the day. The first three Acts have seen a whitewash by Red Bull Sailing Team.
‘It feels good going into Cardiff because I know I just have to continue what I’ve been doing up until now to finish on top. I’ve never been to Cardiff but everyone who has sailed there has told me I will love it so I’m really looking forward to it,’ said helm Thomas Zajac, bronze-medallist in the Rio Olympics, who sails alongside fellow Rio Olympic sailor Australian Will Ryan.
by Extreme Sailing Series