A number of high profile crew changes and two additional team entries will ensure the Extreme Sailing Series Cardiff presented by Land Rover will be another classic.
After a down-to-the-wire battle between Alinghi and The Wave, Muscat at Act 5 in Porto just weeks ago the fleet are again preparing for four days of Stadium Racing.
Hosted by the Cardiff Harbour Festival over 23-26 August the Swiss and Omani teams head to Cardiff tied on points at the top of the overall series leader board.
While the Omani team has chosen to keep the same crew, Alinghi will welcome Olympic gold medallist and two-time ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Anna Tunnicliffe (USA). Sailing in the 'fifth sailor' spot, a position designed to allow an amateur, young sailor or women to race, Tunnicliffe, who last sailed in the 2012 Series finale with GAC Pindar, said, "I am very excited about returning to the Extreme Sailing Series. The sailing is so fast and so exciting! The biggest thing I learned was how important it was to just be consistent.
"Getting a simple start and good results lead to great overall standings. The boats are very physical and the decisions have to be extremely quick. So having a plan well ahead of time helps everyone's lives out."
On the overall Series leaderboard, the double Olympic gold medallists of Red Bull Sailing Team remain in third position despite the efforts of the Danish duo of SAP Extreme Sailing Team who have been pushing the team hard over the last two Acts.
Red Bull Sailing Team's tactician, Hans-Peter Steinacher spoke about the importance of bettering their performance in Cardiff, "It is important for us - after the bad results in Qingdao and Porto - to sail with a clear mind and sail consistently, taking it race per race. Our team is strong and we have a lot of energy and spirit. We will show that in Cardiff."
After handing the reigns of Realteam over temporally in Porto to Pierre Pennec where the team finished on the podium for the first time, Jérôme Clerc is back in the driving seat of his Swiss entry in Cardiff, this time having recruited the expertise of French sailor Tanguy Cariou - a familiar face on the Series as a former Alinghi crew member.
On the teams latest addition Clerc explained, "We know Tanguy very well. He has been active on Lake Geneva and in the Extreme Sailing Series for a long time. He will obviously bring in his great experience, and help us carry on progressing. It is always interesting to share other sailor's experiences and points of view whilst keeping the focus on the fundamentals of our team. We feel like we are on the right track, and making steady progress."
Potentially one of the most powerful teams on the starting grid will be aboard GAC Pindar, where it is all change with four of the five regular crew fighting hard in San Francisco for the Red Bull Youth America's Cup.
Regular tactician Brad Farrand (NZL) is set to step up to the challenge of skipper and helm with final crew decisions still being made. Farrand explained, "With Will and the other 'young ones' competing at the Red Bull Youth America's Cup we have lined up an exciting squad for Cardiff which includes Søren Secher and Thomas Hedegaard from the SAP youth team and Tom Blampied from our New Zealand match racing team.
"We are in a great position to be able to decide the final crew member between Olympic silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark and Team GAC Pindar's very own four-time World Match Racing Champion Ian Williams, who will all be with us in Cardiff and as the event draws nearer we will be making a team call on the final crew member."
After Cardiff the fleet will head to Nice, France, for the penultimate Act of 2013. Following the earlier postponement of the Istanbul Act in June, Event Organiser OC Sport had hoped to reschedule it to September. Unfortunately one of the teams could not agree to the rescheduled dates, and without the full agreement of all the teams for a relatively late addition to the season's planning, the decision has been reluctantly made to cancel. OC Sport look forward to taking the event back to the stunning venue of Istanbul in the future.
Looking ahead to the Series finale, recent well-publicised circumstances in Rio de Janeiro have forced the organisers to reconsider the location of the final Act of 2013. Whilst there will still be Extreme 40 VIP and media activity in Rio before the Act, the organisers will announce details of a new final Act 8 location in Brazil on the original published dates of 14-17 November.
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