|"The beauty of Singapore’s magnificent skyline was the backdrop for the first stop in the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series." Photo source: www.extremesailingseries.com
The first venue for The 2014 Extreme Sailing Series featured 12 boats this year, up from 8 a year ago. This weekend-long race challenged 60 of the best sailors in the world in stadium style sailing with roughly 15,000 people in attendance. The race coordinator changed the date of the competition up from April to February just to ensure the monsoon season quality winds would be present.
The combination of more boats in the water and stronger winds made for spectacular, close-quarters racing. Dean Barker, skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand, said, "…the competition is very very strong, it’s some very good teams, and a really difficult venue to kick it all off." Dean would be correct seeing the clash of spectacular racing teams in wildly, chaotic conditions.
With the addition of new teams campaigning this year, there is bound to be some adjustment period. Ben Ainslie, skipper of the J.P. Morgan BAR team, said, "We’re a completely new crew. Some of us have sailed on this series a bit, some quite a lot, and others not at all. We have to learn how to sail with one another; we’ve got to learn about each boat and this race-course. It’s a huge amount to take onboard in a very short period of time." Ben had no idea how right he was about to become.
|"Team Aberdeen Singapore lands atop Groupama sailing team after succumbing to the vicious combination of high winds and tight maneuvering." Photo source: www.extremesailingseries.com
This kind of rapid fire maneuvering obviously took its toll on many of the racers as there were many near-capsizing moments and a couple serious crashes. There was a jarring crash between Oman Air and Realstone on day 2 knocking out Realstone for the day.
But the biggest crash in 8 years came during race 20, a piggyback crash between Team Aberdeen Singapore and Groupama sailing team left Aberdeen on top of Groupama and many sailors in the drink.
Franck Cammas, skipper for Groupama, explained, "Everybody’s ok so it’s a good point. There is only technical damage on the boats. I’m sure it’s a bad moment for us. It’s important for us to come back and honor our job, I think. This kind of race is very risky, and sometime the risk is too much."
Morgan Larsen’s Alinghi took first, The Wave, Muscat took second, and Jerome Clerk’s Realstone took third.
Next up from the exciting world of Extreme Sailing Series: Act 2 from Muscat, Oman.