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Cardiff gets ready to host Extreme Sailing Series™ superfast foiling action

by Extreme Sailing Series 18 Jun 2016 13:26 BST 23-26 June 2016
Day 2 of Extreme Sailing Series Act 4 Cardiff © Mark Lloyd /

The world's top short-course multihull racing sailors are gearing up for what promises to be a spectacular return of the Extreme Sailing Series™ to Cardiff in one week's time.

The only UK Act of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series season – from June 23-26 – will see the brand new fleet of hydro-foiling GC32 catamarans making their UK debut in the Series at a venue that draws the crowds in their thousands and usually features fast and furious conditions.

With two competitive Acts already completed this year – at Muscat in Oman and Qingdao in China – Cardiff is the tightest stadium of the year so far, that could see the new flying machines really take-off, and the crews can't wait.

"It's going to be super-flat water and there is likely to be some breeze on one or two of the days," said Series-leading Oman Air British crewman Pete Greenhalgh. "That means we'll be going extremely fast and we will see some really good top speeds. It will be pretty hairy – very hairy – but I am very much looking forward to it."

Jes Gram-Hansen, the Danish co-skipper of the SAP Extreme Sailing Team which lies fifth overall, is also viewing Cardiff as a big challenge in the new boats.

"In the past Cardiff has always been an exciting place to sail and we'll have to see what kind of conditions we get this year. But of course it's going to be difficult if the breeze is up with the new boats on foils and hopefully there will not be too much carnage," said Gram-Hansen.

"It's an interesting racecourse. There is a fairly long and fast leg from the startline and, assuming there is good breeze, we are going to reach some very high speeds there. Then there is a loop in the Bay which is going to be short and hectic."

It all adds up to a big handful for Race Director Phil Lawrence who loves the Cardiff setting.

"We get big crowds and it's a compact stadium so the racing is really close and people can watch the action all along the side of the course. The racing is great and the sailors love it," he said.

Lawrence will be watching to make sure wind conditions do not get out of hand as the boats hit top-speeds of up to 45mph in very confined waters.

"We have been very impressed with the boats so far – the switch from Extreme 40s has worked well and the new design has slotted easily into our format. The sailors are enjoying it too and there is no doubt it has refreshed the format of the Extreme Sailing Series," he added.

The UK Act will see the battle rejoined at the top of the leaderboard between Series leaders Oman Air who are two points ahead of Alinghi and Red Bull Sailing Team tied in second place. Fourth overall is the Land Rover BAR Academy team which will be deploying a rotating crew at Cardiff for the first time with both Paul 'CJ' Campbell-James and Jono Macbeth attending as senior team mentors.

A squad of eight young talented multihull racers, who are part of the Academy at Sir Ben Ainslie's America's Cup syndicate in Portsmouth, will rotate after each day's racing.

"For the Academy guys Cardiff is going to be the perfect step into Extreme Sailing serious-style inshore racing at its absolute best," said team coach Andrew Walsh. "It's going to be a very steep learning curve."

Behind the Land Rover BAR Academy team, SAP Extreme Sailing Team will be looking to improve and cut out errors as they aim to join the podium places in the overall rankings. Just two points behind the Danes, battle will recommence between Sail Portugal – who welcome new crewman, the New Zealand America's Cup sailor Sam Bell, on board – and China One who are tied in sixth and seventh places respectively.

Cardiff will be all-action on the water and on the shore and fans in the UK can watch the racing live on BT Sport Europe on the final day, while fans online can watch the racing live on the official YouTube channel on 25-26 June, 1530-1700 BST daily.

Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) team members: (more on them below)

Skipper: Neil Hunter (GBR) Crew: Oliver Greber (GBR) Crew: Will Alloway (GBR) Crew: Rob Bunce (GBR) Crew: Neil Hunter (GBR) Crew: Adam Kay (GBR) Crew: Owen Bowerman (GBR) Crew: Sam Batten (GBR) Crew: Chris Taylor (GBR)

Alinghi (SUI) team members:

Skipper/Helm: Arnaud Psarofaghis (SUI) Tactician: Nicolas Charbonnier (FRA) Headsail Trimmer: Nils Frei (SUI) Bowman: Yves Detrey (SUI) Floater: Timothé Lapauw (FRA)

China One (CHN) team members:

Skipper/Helm: Taylor Canfield (ISV) Tactician/Bowman: Chris Steele (NZL) Mainsail Trimmer: Hayden Goodrick (NZL) Headsail Trimmer: Garth Ellingham (NZL) Floater: Luke Payne (AUS)

Oman Air (OMA) team members:

Skipper/Helm: Morgan Larson (USA) Mainsail Trimmer: Pete Greenhalgh (GBR) Headsail Trimmer: Ed Smyth (NZL/AUS) Bowmen: Nasser Al Mashari (OMA) & James Wierzbowski (AUS)

Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) team members:

Skipper/Helm: Roman Hagara (AUT) Tactician: Hans Peter Steinacher (AUT) Mainsail Trimmer: Stewart Dodson (NZL) Headsail Trimmer: Adam Piggott (GBR) Bowman: Brad Farrand (NZL)

Sail Portugal (POR) team members:

Skipper/Helm: Diogo Cayolla (POR) Mainsail Trimmer Trimmer: Javier de la Plaza (ESP) Headsail Trimmer: Luís Brito (POR) Bowman: Sam Bell (NZL) Floater: João Matos Rosa (POR)

SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) team members:

Co-Skipper/Helm: Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) Co-Skipper/Tactician: Rasmus Køstner (DEN) Mainsail Trimmer: Mads Emil Stephensen (DEN) Headsail Trimmer: Pierluigi De Felice (ITA) Bowman: Renato Conde (POR)

Land Rover BAR Academy Announces Team

The Land Rover BAR Academy today announced the first young sailors to join their programme. Inspired by four time Olympic gold medallist and 34th America's Cup winner, Ben Ainslie, the Land Rover BAR Academy will find and support talented young British sailors. It's run by Land Rover BAR, the team challenging for the 35th America's Cup, and supported by Land Rover.

The goal is to create a pathway into the America's Cup, with the immediate focus of creating a British team that can win the Red Bull Youth America's Cup (RBYAC) in June 2017. The Land Rover BAR Academy's programme for 2016 will see the team sailing the Extreme Sailing Series™, and the team will soon be racing at the next event in Cardiff, 24-26th June.

Land Rover BAR Sailing Team Manager, Jono Macbeth and sailing team member, Paul Campbell-James, will be in Cardiff in mentoring roles. The new members of the Land Rover BAR Academy will have access to the team's expertise and facilities, including workshops at the team's home in Portsmouth.

The seven sailors chosen come from different areas of high performance sailing sport. William Alloway, Neil Hunter and Sam Batten all have a background in monohull skiffs, Alloway is twice winner of the 29er National Champion and currently sailing the Olympic skiff class, the 49er. Sam Batten has won a couple of RYA Youth Championships in the 29er, and won a silver at the Youth Worlds in 2011; while Neil Hunter was the first U21 crew at the 49er Worlds in 2014.

Hunter viewed his fitness as central to his place on the roster. "I think it was my fitness that got me into the Land Rover BAR Academy. It's always been a huge thing for me and obviously with the America's Cup moving towards these high performance catamarans it's become massively important," he explained.

High performance multihulls have provided three of the seven, with Owen Bowerman winner of the UK round of the Red Bull Foiling Generation series last year, as well as being an U22 RYA National Match Race champion and 29er Youth Champion in 2014. "I've brought some experience in foiling catamarans to the team, I've sailed a lot of classes and I think that ability to learn about different boats has really helped me to get here," said Bowerman.

There are some newcomers to foiling too; Sam Batten is one of those with a background in skiffs. "I can't wait to get out on the GC32s to start with and improve from there. I've never been foiling before, so I'm really looking forward to it," he said.

Oli Greber was second at the Red Bull Foiling Generation UK, and also took a bronze medal in the multihull class at the ISAF Youth Worlds. Covering all his options, Greber also applied for an internship with Land Rover BAR, even while he was trialling for the Land Rover BAR Academy.

"I knew that the skills that I would learn through the internship would be very relevant to the Land Rover BAR Academy," explained Greber, "so I applied for both and recently heard that I'd got the internship as well as a place in the Land Rover BAR Academy. I'm helping out all the different departments in the Shore Team and I'm picking up lots of different skills within composites, hydraulics, how the foils work and all the intricacies within the boats — it's such a broad range of skills."

Adam Kay also realises the important of marine industry experience, with a long CV that includes sailmaking for Nacra, rigger for the Extreme Sailing Series and a long list of high performance multihull events. He has his eyes firmly set on the Youth America's Cup. "It's really good, amazing to be here, and I can't wait to see how things develop with the team and see what we can achieve and even hopefully win the Youth America's Cup."

Rob Bunce gets his experience from the world of offshore sailing, having previously competed in the legendary Solitaire du Figaro. He also has extensive experience on the yacht racing circuit. "A lot of these guys have come from one- or two-person boats, and I'm the different guy. I've done a lot of match racing with five man teams so I've certainly got that bit of leadership and the team work skills. This is a fantastic opportunity, I think that anyone our age is supremely lucky to be involved and it's wonderful that such a big team in this country has got youth involved this early on in their formation of an America's Cup team."

All of the Land Rover BAR Academy commented on the inspirational impact of being part of this new initiative. "It's an amazing opportunity to train with the Land Rover BAR senior team and be inspired by them, see where we need to get to. We had Bleddyn Mon with us yesterday, pushing us on, and Jonathan Macbeth came in and chatted with us – it's seeing our childhood heroes and trying to get to where they are," reflected William Alloway.

The Land Rover BAR Academy is coached by Andrew Walsh, a former Extreme Sailing Series and Olympic multihull sailor and coach, with Rob Andrews, London 2012 Olympic Sailing/Venue Manager, and a former RYA Olympic coach, acting Team Manager.

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