Three new skippers and two completely new teams will bring a wealth of fresh talent to the Extreme 40 fleet in 2013, along with a set of credentials that will make predicting, not only, the outcome of the opening Act but the entire Series a near impossibility.
Eight teams, 10 nationalities, 40 of some of the worlds' best sailors will be centre stage in Oman as the Extreme Sailing Series 2013 commences on 5 March at The Wave, Muscat, Oman.
The new and existing sailors on the circuit have an impressive combined CV - 18 Olympic campaigns, 30 America's Cup campaigns, 33 World Championship wins and six Olympic medals. In one week they will come together in Muscat, Oman, for the opening Act.
Two Oman Sail teams will be on the start line in Muscat and defending champion, Leigh McMillan will bring his 2012 winning experience to the crew of The Wave, Muscat, with the addition of new crew member Musab Al Hadi, a national F18 sailor. The second Omani team, making it eight Extreme 40s on the start line, will be announced on 4 March.
Twenty-three year-old Will Tiller (NZL) will take the reigns of GAC Pindar, alongside his 'Full Metal Jacket' match racing team mates who were recently selected to represent New Zealand at the Red Bull Youth America's Cup after winning their selection trials. Tiller is joined by Matt Steven, Stewart Dodson, Harry Thurston and Shaun Mason, all talented youth sailors hungry for success as GAC Pindar expand their ongoing commitment to developing youth talent.
Team Korea, one of two completely new team entries for 2013 will have Olympic silver medallist and the youngest skipper in the fleet at the helm, Peter Burling. Twenty-two year-old Burling is joined by his Olympic silver medal winning 49er crew Blair Tuke and Korean national match-racing champion Sungwok Kim, as part of the teams overarching aim to develop Korean sailing talents. The team will benefit from the experience of Extreme 40 veterans Mark Bulkeley and Matt Cornwell, and on paper, they could pose the biggest threat to the defending champions. How quickly they adapt to the Extreme 40 racing arena remains to be seen.
The second new entry, and no stranger to multihull racing, hails from Switzerland. Realteam and their skipper Jerome Clerc won the D35 championship in 2012 fending off competition from Swiss rivals Alinghi. A 'ready formed team' of Bryan Mettraux, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Cédric Schmidt and Thierry Wasem will benefit from having extensive race experience together, and will be looking to turn that into a podium result in Muscat.
The biggest transfer news of the season comes from Alinghi who have recruited last year's talent, American Morgan Larson. Runner-up in 2012, Larson will call the tactics alongside skipper and helm Ernesto Bertarelli, supported by the regular Extreme 40 Alinghi crew of Pierre Yves Jorand, Nils Frei and Yves Detrey. Bertarelli commented, "I am very much looking forward to sailing with Morgan on board Alinghi this season. He proved to be a great professional and inspired tactician on the circuit last year and I hope that he will bring his vast expertise to our Extreme 40 crew and contribute to a successful season for Alinghi."
Jes Gram-Hansen and Rasmus Køstner, co-skippers of SAP Extreme Sailing Team, have confirmed the addition of young Danish sailing talent Nicolai Sehested as the team's bowman, while the rest of the team remains unchanged as they anticipate that consistency and experience will be central for them to step on to the Extreme 40 podium in their second year of competition. Pete Cumming, the team's mainsail trimmer and one of the most experienced Extreme 40 sailors around having won the 2009 Extreme Sailing Series as skipper of Oman Sail Masirah, has been leading the teams refit and pre-season training programme. "It is important that we focus on getting Nicolai up to speed as quick as possible as the crew work element is the key to winning races,"
said Cumming. "Of course we need to be fast too, and we seem to be fast both upwind and downwind with the new setup so we are happy but still pushing to develop our set-up and techniques, as we know good speed is not enough of an edge in this fleet."
One of Austria's most well-known sporting exports, multi-Olympian Roman Hagara, has opted to keep the same team as 2012 for Red Bull Sailing Team. "Great teamwork means great results,"
said Hagara. "The motivation for 2013 is on a high level. We decided to race in Oman with the same team as in 2012, as Hans Peter and I believe that now we are all at a level to win this circuit. That's why we are here."
One of the most experienced skippers in the fleet, Hagara can also be classed as one of the most frustrated, as the overall championship podium is still proving elusive, finishing fourth overall in 2012.
Extreme Sailing Series, Act 1 Muscat, Team Lists
- Skipper/Helm: Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI) / Tactician: Morgan Larson (USA) / Mainsail Trimmer: Pierre-Yves Jorand (SUI) / Headsail Trimmer: Nils Frei (SUI) / Bowman: Yves Detrey (SUI)
GAC Pindar (NZL)
- Skipper/Helm: William Tiller (NZL) / Tactician: Matt Steven (NZL) / Mainsail Trimmer: Stewart Dodson (NZL) / Headsail Trimmer: Harry Thurston (NZL) / Bowman: Shaun Mason (GBR)
- Skipper/Helm: Jérome Clerc (SUI) / Tactician: Bryan Mettraux (SUI) / Mainsail Trimmer: Arnaud Psarofaghis (SUI) / Headsail Trimmer: Cédric Schmidt (SUI) / Bowman: Thierry Wasem (SUI)
Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT)
- Skipper/Helm: Roman Hagara (AUT) / Tactician: Hans Peter Steinacher (AUT) / Mainsail Trimmer: Matthew Adams (GBR) / Headsail Trimmer: Pierre Le Clainche (FRA) / Bowman: Graeme Spencer (AUS)
SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN)
- Co-Skipper/Helm: Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) / Co-Skipper/Tactician: Rasmus Køstner (DEN) / Mainsail trimmer: Peter Cumming (GBR) / Headsail Trimmer: Mikkel Røssberg (DEN) / Bowman: Nicolai Sehested (DEN)
Team Korea (KOR)
- Skipper/Helm: Peter Burling (NLZ) / Tactician: Blair Tuke (NZL) / Mainsail Trimmer: Mark Bulkeley (GBR) / Headsail Trimmer: Sungwok Kim (KOR) / Bowman: Matt Cornwell (GBR)
The Wave, Muscat (OMA)
- Skipper/Helm: Leigh McMillan (GBR) / Tactician: Ed Smyth (NZL) / Mainsail Trimmer: Pete Greenhalgh (GBR) / Headsail Trimmer: Musab Al Hadi (OMA) / Bowman: Hashim Al Rashdi (OMA)