What the skippers have to say ahead of tricky Qingdao
A notorious venue on the Extreme Sailing Series’™ global calendar, Qingdao is known to dish out a range of weather conditions. The only thing that is guaranteed in China’s Olympic sailing city is that anything could happen, and the sailors must be on their toes if they hope to emerge from the Stadium Racing action unscathed and successful.
In 2011 the event saw four capsizes, one collision and one broken mast all in the space of a day. As always, the expert Extreme Sailing Series safety team will be on high alert, ready to deal with everything Qingdao can throw at them. Here’s what some of the skippers of the world-class teams have to say ahead of their visit to Fushan Bay…
Arnaud Psarofaghis, co-skipper and helm of Swiss team Alinghi, who helmed his team to victory in the challenging venue in 2016:
“Fushan Bay is tricky as it’s really hard to predict the wind shifts and where the pressure will drop on the water because of the surrounding buildings. There is one thing I know for sure: Until you cross the finish line, the racing is never over in Qingdao! This is good for the public as it delivers a great show and suspense…but it is a bit more stressful for the leaders of each race. On the other hand, it keeps the racing interesting for the teams fighting to come back after a bad start. Anyway, we all race in the same venue so it is up to us to be better than the others.
“I’m not nervous at all, things can go wrong anywhere. But some days in Qingdao you can certainly get the really gusty wind conditions that make this venue interesting. As always, we will keep our eyes open and remain focused on our performance.”
Chris Steele, co-skipper and helm of Kiwi team NZ Extreme Sailing Team, who raced in the Chinese venue on board CHINA One last season:
“Fushan bay is extremely difficult from what I experienced last year. The stadium style racecourse is tucked behind land with tall buildings on one side of the course, and has the breakwater wall with the Extreme Club on the other. This means we don’t get to see the breeze before it hits the racecourse. In more open venues we can look up past the top mark and see what breeze is coming, then track it as it makes its way onto the racecourse. In this venue, we don’t get to see it until it’s on the racecourse itself and by that time you’re either in it or you’re not, so it’s a big game of snakes and ladders. I have no doubt it will be a high scoring regatta and again the team who can be most consistent and eliminate those bottom place finishes will be the team that goes on to win this one.”
Phil Robertson, skipper and helm of Omani team Oman Air, who raced in the venue in 2015 but is the only skipper who hasn’t competed in this venue on the hydro-foiling GC32 catamaran:
“Qingdao is one of the most challenging venues. It can provide very random conditions when sailing in the bay. There are so many uncertain factors to racing there but it doesn’t make me nervous, it just makes the spectating more exciting!”
Roman Hagara, skipper and helm of Austrian-flagged Red Bull Sailing Team, who competed in the 2008 Olympics on Fushan Bay and has raced at the venue in the Extreme Sailing Series every year for the past six years:
“Expect unpredictable conditions.”
Jes Gram-Hansen, co-skipper and helm of Danish-flagged SAP Extreme Sailing Team, a team that won the Act in this venue in 2015:
“Qingdao is famous for delivering action and it is a very difficult place to race because the conditions can be everything from super light to windy, with strong gusts from between the surrounding skyscrapers. We have won in Qingdao before and we are looking forward to getting the opportunity to repeat that this year.”
Extreme Sailing Series Act 2, Qingdao “Mazarin Cup” will run from 28 April – 1 May and further information on timings and how you can follow can be found on the event page.
Watch the video to look back at some of the action from previous years in Qingdao.