Pushing beyond limits

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Race day 1 in Act 8 in Sydney Harbor was a dramatic day seeing gusts in the 29 knot area. After Race 3, the racing was postponed to day 2.

The crowd certainly got the worth of action and drama with boats flying at 36 knots and the crews certainly got their hands full after 2 months off. For the first time since the series switched to the foiling GC32 cats, there was a capsize during racing. Not just one, but 2!! In both cases it was the bear-away situation with major pressure in the bow end that resulted in the bow-down-full-stop-and-tip-over that until now have kept the fleet from getting wet, but today took two ‘scalps’ within minutes.

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In both instances the Extreme Sailing Series’ on-the-water safety team was instantly on hand to provide assistance, alongside the crews’ support boats. Due to the conditions the sailors were wearing helmets and buoyancy aids and there were no guest sailors onboard. Fortunately no one got hurt, but the Race Director Phil Lawrence’s patience and the decision was made to cancel racing for the remainder of day 1. Racing was beyond limits…

Unlike the typical race course along the opera House, the first days race course was a couple of miles northerly and in more open waters, meaning more stable wind conditions and also more of it. After starting in the 20’s, the wind kept building and when gusts hit the 30’s it was over.

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Jes Gram-Hansen had a squirky smile on his when reflecting over todays action: “Fair call postponing. Racing in 20 knots is hairy enough with these cats, but racing in gusts up to 30’s is boiled down to hold on, survive the bear-away and the race is then decided by your downwind performance”. The little details and margins was put away for the bigger agendas such as staying alive, but Jes continued: “The first two races, we need to find our gear and get the setting right for the conditions and in the third, it was on the money. Otherwise its hard to comment on the little things when your surroundings criss-cross with 35 knots with a few meters of distance. We look forward to get racing again”.

Standings after Day 1, 3 races:

1st Alinghi (SUI) 34 points.
2nd Oman Air (OMA) 31 points.
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 29 points.
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 23 points.
5th RNZYS Lautrec Racing (NZL) 21 points.
6th Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) 20 points.
7th Visit Madeira (POR) 18 points.
8th Team Australia (AUS) 17 points.

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