Hannah White makes her predictions for Act 6, Saint Petersburg
With the rivalry hotting up at the top of the leaderboard, experienced players returning to the fray and the home team determined to prove a point, Hannah White makes her predictions for the upcoming Act in Russia’s cultural capital - Saint Petersburg.
Tuesday 18th August 2015
With the rivalry hotting up at the top of the leaderboard, experienced players returning to the fray and the home team determined to prove a point, Series broadcast commentator and Land Rover Global Brand Ambassador, Hannah White, makes her predictions for the upcoming Act in Russia’s cultural capital - Saint Petersburg.
Saint Petersburg is one of the most beautiful, cultural cities in the world but for those sailors taking part in the Extreme Sailing Series™ it represents a narrow, very challenging city centre racecourse. Rich in history, surrounded by some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, the racecourse is situated on the River Neva. With two knots of current flowing through it and a really shifty breeze, it is one of the smallest courses on the circuit. This is the second year the teams have raced in Saint Petersburg, but those who have sailed here before will have only a slight advantage over the newcomers. All the teams will have to keep their wits about them - stay focused, be prepared for the unpredictable and take the impact of the tide into consideration.
Looking for home glory
One team used to the challenges of this racecourse is Gazprom Team Russia. With a third position at Act 3, Qingdao and a second at Act 5, Hamburg, I believe the local team has the potential to take the Act win on their home waters. They’re looking strong and progressively getting podium results. They secured their best position in Hamburg and they’ll have the home advantage in Russia, which I hope will take a little pressure off them. With increased confidence after two podium positions, you can see they’re finding their feet. Gazprom Team Russia have really focused on their team dynamic and stuck with the same crew formation this season. They’ve overcome initial challenges as basic as language and communication onboard, and they’re getting into their stride.
Experienced faces return
Double Olympic gold medallist Roman Hagara has been absent from the Red Bull Sailing Team crew line-up for the past three Acts with a shoulder injury and as a result stepped into a coaching role. It must be a frustrating position to be in. I’m sure half of him will be dying to get back out on the water while the other half will be a little anxious about upsetting the strong crew dynamic.
Other familiar faces joining the circuit for Saint Petersburg, are Realteam’s 2013 and 2014 crew members Arnaud Psarofaghis and Bryan Mettraux. Their experience of this racecourse as well as the Extreme Sailing Series will be invaluable to Lino Sonego Team Italia, helping to take the pressure off as we see Enrico Zennaro standing in for Lorenzo Bressani as skipper.
Hotting up at the top
Looking back to the final race in Hamburg, you could really see the rivalry becoming more intense. The Wave, Muscat allowed Gazprom Team Russia to take second position as they match raced SAP Extreme Sailing Team to the finish. Gazprom Team Russia, SAP Extreme Sailing Team and Red Bull Sailing Team will be determined to stay within touching distance of The Wave, Muscat so they can strike if the Omani team slips on points in the final stages of the season. Leigh McMillan’s focus is evidently on the overall Series title. Having won the Series twice as skipper, there’s a huge amount of expectation from him as he would no doubt love to secure a third title.
The more SAP Extreme Sailing Team grow in confidence, the more they respond well to adversity. The capsize in Hamburg wasn’t the first bit of drama they’ve had this season. They’ve had collisions at other Acts and yet they still come back and impress on the water. I think that’s a testament to their team dynamic, their ability, skill and confidence. We know in this Series it’s about being consistent but there’s no question that the team will need a top result in Russia to climb the Series leaderboard after their third position in Hamburg.
After his Extreme 40 debut in Hamburg, round the world sailing veteran Adam Minoprio will step up as co-skipper alongside multiple world champion Seve Jarvin. While Jarvin is one of the hottest young sailors in the world, on this circuit he performs best when he has someone next to him who is able to unlock his potential. Adam has been around the world on the Volvo Ocean Race, is an exceptionally good Match Racer and performed well in Hamburg on bow. We saw the positive impact of America’s Cup star Chris Draper in Cardiff and in Russia I think Adam will do the same.
Act 6 predictions
I think it’s going to be an extremely tight contest between the top teams. I’m going to predict the results to be the same as they were in Hamburg - The Wave, Muscat taking the top spot, Gazprom Team Russia in second and SAP Extreme Sailing Team third.