Jes Gram-Hansen, reviews Singapore
On the 15th of February the SAP Extreme Sailing Team headed for Singapore to compete in the first event of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series. Boarding the flight we knew we had a busy couple of days ahead of us as the cargo ship carrying our race boat in a 40ft container was scheduled to arrive later than scheduled, literally the day before the official practice day. This was due to a tropical storm south of Singapore, which delayed the cargo ship by over a week. It was intense as the concern was that we would not make the official practice on Wednesday the 19th of February, with our new boat and new team line up, we were keen to be as prepared as possible.
With good support from local tax authorities and with GAC Pindar custom clearance managed smoothly, we were able to start the boat build on Tuesday the 18th. Led by boat captain Renato Conde the whole team worked into the small hours of the night in order to be ready to launch the boat just in time to make the official practice.
Practice went well but it was obvious racing would be just as tricky as last year with wind direction changing 60 degrees and wind gusts bouncing around from 2 to 25 knots during the 12 minute races. Marina Bay in Singapore is one of the most mentally challenging race courses in the world due to the tight confines and number of boats on the start line as well as predicting the wind direction and force. We had no doubt that the key would be to stay out of trouble for this Act.
Practice day was also our new boat branding design reveal, with the new SAP Extreme Sailing Team 2014 branding which is an evolution of the 2013 theme and to our mind the boat looks really slick – but check out the photos and judge for yourself!
Onshore we were very proud to welcome guests to the very slick and beautiful SAP Extreme VIP lounge, with the capability to deliver immersive experiences for media and guests where SAP sailing technology can be explored while watching the live action races just few meters away. We are sure that it will continue to be well received amongst our guests during the 8 global events of Extreme Sailing Series.
Going into first race day we despite the delay to boat prep, we felt ready to follow up on last year’s podium finish in Singapore. Halfway through the 4 racing days we were still in contention of a podium finish but so where 4 other teams on the grid. It really was a shuffle on the starts with the old order from last year keen to re establish their positions.
Day 3 saw one of the biggest collisions in the history of sailing when Groupama and Aberdeen Asset management crashed on the finish line but luckily no one suffered serious injuries. But it was a reminder of just how powerful these high performance boats are and how unpredictable the wind is in these tight confines. Although not satisfied with our performance knowing what we are capable of achieving we still feel very positive that we managed to stay out of trouble but could not find the key to break into the podium and after four days of racing. Team Alinghi was a clear and well deserved winner of the first Extreme Sailing Series event. But we know where we should be ranked and aim to climb back into position in Oman.
Now we are back in Europe and preparing for the next event. We are determined to shake off the mental stress of ever changing conditions in Marina Bay, Singapore and fight back in Muscat and move up the leaderboard. We are excited that our continuing partnership with SAP goes from strength to strength and looking forward to that translating into the results we want on the water. The desire to win is the lifeblood of the team. With so many positives in terms of support from our fans and SAP guests, now its time to focus and deliver the rush of winning.