Looking East to Qingdao

The race course in Qingdao, China is infamous amongst Extreme Sailing Series crews.

The past events at the ex-Olympic venue have never failed to excite – having delivered some spectacular capsizes and mid-race collisions, thanks to the intense wind gusts which develop around the towering skyline of the port city.

Having now come to grips with foiling life aboard the new GC32 during training in Dubai, and racing in Oman, it’s important in Qingdao that the team prioritizes sailing cleanly, with solid and calculated strategy to repeat the 2015 victory at this venue.

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On April 29 the team will hit the start line in Act 2 with confidence. The most recent event in Oman taught a lot about sailing the GC32. Although dropping a few places on the leaderboard during the final race of the Act – proving that mistakes in this boat can be extremely costly – there is proved skills in play both sailing the boat fast, maneuvering cleanly and working well together as a crew. Of course, there’s an awareness of the challenges that could lie ahead in Qingdao and knowing that it’s likely that the physical and mental game of the crew will be pushed to the limit. With this in mind, the team has worked hard to hone the strategy and to find an edge.

In the month that has passed since Act 1 in Oman, SAP Extreme Sailing Team have worked closely with the coach, Michael Hestbæk, picking over the valuable information that SAP Sailing Analytics revealed about the performance in Muscat. Among other things, it was realized quickly that the reaching angles on the first leg of the race course are particularly tricky but particularly important – with the first boat around the first mark often being the first boat over the finish line. Hitting the start line with full speed and being ahead of the fleet rounding the first mark is a high stakes balancing act of time and distance, tactics, boat speed, sailing angle, and foil trim. The analysis of data from Muscat – including information gathered by the new foiling sensors – has revealed some extremely useful insights, giving confidence in having potential to help build on from the performance in Oman.

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As helmsman Jes Gram-Hansen puts it:

“In a fleet where boat speeds regularly peak at over 30 knots and boats sail within inches of one another, this time in a cauldron of volatile wind conditions, there’s no doubt there will be some spectacular and exciting racing ahead in Qingdao – we’re ready for it!”

Act 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series will kick-off in Qingdao on April 29. Live 3D graphics and Insights from SAP will be available on www.sapsailing.com. In addition live video coverage will be available from April 30.