Extreme Sailing Series™ offers perfect proving ground for youth teams
They don’t call it the Extreme Sailing Series™ for nothing – and that’s just what the young guns on Team Tilt and NZL Sailing Team have been finding out on their debuts on the global Stadium Racing tour.
The two crews, made up of sailors no older than 24, have been subjected to a real baptism of fire as wildcards in the opening Act in Muscat.
With a regatta line-up that includes past Extreme Sailing Series winners, America’s Cup stars and Olympic gold medallists, their first taste of the super-fast foiling action has been something of an eye-opener.
One of the toughest challenges has been dealing with the sheer intensity of the Extreme Sailing Series – the first three days of Act 1 have seen 21 fast and furious races contested.
Although a huge challenge, it has just what Switzerland’s Team Tilt and Kiwi crew NZL Sailing Team need to get up to speed on the lightning-fast flying GC32 catamarans.
“It’s been a steep learning curve for us,” said NZL Sailing Team skipper Logan Dunning Beck, one of New Zealand’s most promising sailing talents. “We had never sailed in waves before so the first day racing off Muttrah was interesting! We’d also never sailed with our gennaker upwind either so we battled with that on the second day.”
Sebastien Schneiter, a Rio 2016 Olympian and now skipper of Team Tilt, added: “We really love this event – lots of short, intense races are perfect for us. We want to learn as much as possible and when you have so many races you get lots of situations that we can experience and learn from.”
As well as trying to tame the lightning-quick GC32 catamarans while blasting around the Extreme Sailing Series’ trademark stadium racecourses, the young sailors have had to contend with competition from the likes of Red Bull Sailing Team, Oman Air and Alinghi.
But the opportunity to pit themselves against some of the world’s best sailors is one that couldn’t be missed.
“It’s pretty tough competing against the teams with the skill and the knowledge to know what to do in every situation,” Dunning Beck admitted. “The positive side of that is that we get to see what they do when certain situations arise and learn from them.”
Team Tilt go into today’s Act 1 finale in a respectable fifth place while NZL currently sit ninth on the overall standings, 20 points behind Land Rover BAR Academy.
Regardless of results, the teams will have gained invaluable experience that will put them in good stead for the Youth America’s Cup in June, where they will face 10 other young teams including Extreme Sailing Series regulars Land Rover BAR Academy.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better situation to practice ahead of the Youth America’s Cup,” Dunning Beck said. “It’s great for our guys to be in a racing situation and be forced to deal with all the things thrown at them. That’s something we can’t get anywhere else.”
Racing begins at 1430 local time (GMT+4) and will see SAP Extreme Sailing Team, Oman Air, Alinghi and Red Bull Sailing Team in a four-way shootout for the first act win of the season.