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The first act of the &35;extremesailingseries 2016 was a come-from-behind thriller in Oman as double Olympic gold medalists Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher led the Red Bull Sailing Team to a photo-finish win in the final race to jump from fifth place to second.
They clinched a dramatic second-place finish on Saturday in Muscat, Oman, putting Hagara and Steinacher's team on track to improve their 2015 third place overall. In a historic season that sees the series move to GC32 foiling catamarans capable of almost 40 knots (74 km/h, 46 mph), this team won’t settle for anything less than the title.
It was a great result for the Red Bull Sailing Team in the sultanate, despite a slow start in sluggish winds that put them in fifth place headed into the final day of racing. Everything changed on Super Saturday when the winds picked up to 14 knots. Austria’s Hagara and Steinacher led the team to show the thousands of spectators just what foils can do in the series’ unique stadium format, dominating the fleet with three race wins to tally six podiums overall. The climax was the last race of the day, when the Red Bull Sailing Team edged out regatta winner Oman Air and its new skipper Morgan Larson in a photo-finish to leapfrog over America’s Cup challenger Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing Academy, two-time America’s Cup winner Alinghi and SAP &35;extreme Sailing, for the second place regatta result and second place in the overall standings.
“What a week! We are stoked to be on the podium. Our final day in strong wind was outstanding and we really nailed it in the final race,” said Hagara.
“You need a lot of energy and power to sail this foiling catamaran, and we showed that we can do that. We need more time on the water to get the final setup done and get up to speed in all different kinds of conditions. The key for this high-speed stadium racing is the start and very clean and fast maneuvers, and it’s learning by doing. The goal for China is, of course, to win. That’s all we want.”
Act 2 (28 April–1 May) will be unpredictable, as the Red Bull Sailing Team’s GC32 goes straight from Oman to the race site of Qingdao, China with no time for training. In the interim, team leaders Hagara and Steinacher, two of foiling’s biggest advocates, will be traveling the world as sport directors for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and Red Bull Foiling Generation. Without the boat, they and the rest of the team – Stewart Dodson (NZL), Bradley Ferrand (NZL) and Adam Piggott (UK) – will focus on their own physical training to be as prepared as possible.
“We’re satisfied with the race week in Muscat, but we know there is more possible,” Steinacher stated. “I can confirm that foiling is the future of sailing – I mean, it’s crazy how much boat work the crew has to do and how challenging it is. But it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had on a sailing boat, as well. This is racing: Full on, high speed and right in front of the fans, and we’re battling the best on Planet Earth.”
The &35;extremesailingseries teams will have their next chance to fly their GC32s for championship points at Act 2 in Qingdao, China on 28 April - 1 May, 2016.
Results Act 1, Muscat, Oman:
1. Oman Air 217 points, 2. Red Bull Sailing Team 184 pts, 3. Land Rover BAR Academy 175 pts, 4. Alinghi 172 pts, 5. SAP &35;extreme Sailing 166 pts, 6. China One 153 pts, 7. Team Turx 140 pts, 8. Sail Portugal 138 pts
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