The battle for the Extreme Sailing Series title is heating up after nine months of global competition and will head to Brazil and a brand new stadium in Florianópolis for the final Act of 2013.
Five teams - one Omani, two Swiss, one Austrian and one Danish - are in the running for a podium finish and four days of competition between the 14-17 November, presented by Land Rover, will determine the outcome.
The intense competition between the Swiss team Alinghi and The Wave, Muscat has been raging all season and after the 164 races so far this year, the Omani team have just a two point advantage at the top of the leaderboard, one of the smallest margins in the recent history of the Series. For the pre-season form guide favourites The Wave, Muscat, the stakes are high - if skipper Leigh McMillan can lead his team to victory he will become the only skipper to have won the overall title twice in the seven year history of the Extreme Sailing Series. "To win it once is amazing, to win it twice is extremely hard. It comes down to keeping the fight going, Alinghi hard and just sailing well as a team. If we come out of the blocks in Florianópolis sailing well even if the results aren't necessarily going our way, as long as we're working well together, in a good frame of mind, we can always come through."
Ernesto Bertarelli's Swiss team Alinghi has had an impressive season as the only team to finish on the podium at every Act this year and the team's helm for Brazil Morgan Larson has his eyes on the prize. "We've been working hard to close the gap on Leigh and the team. The Wave, Muscat is a very talented team and they don't have many holes in their repertoire. First we need to sail at our highest level to have a shot at them and then comes the points…They have a two-point advantage and looking at the math we really need to first beat them and then somehow finish with a team between us. We know it's possible but it won't be an easy task."
Behind them three teams are locked in a close battle for third place - Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT), SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) and Realteam (SUI). The Austrians have narrowly missed out on the Series podium for the last three years, and the team's double Olympic gold medal-winning skipper Roman Hagara is playing his cards close to his chest, "The team is ready, and the boat is ready. We want to win the Act. It's simple."
A new team for 2013 who have impressed in their debut year is the Swiss multihull champions on Realteam, and being in the running for the podium is beyond skipper Jerome Clerc's expectations, "We had no precise objectives for this year as we couldn't know our level in this Series. We are happy about our current ranking but it would be great to beat one of the big four!"
Arnaud Psarofaghis, an experienced Extreme 40 sailor, will take the helm of Realteam in Florianópolis under the watchful eye of Clerc, who is already thinking strategically about the teams 2014 crew list. "We will use this final Act to prepare the next season. We have had a few crew changes this year and we are looking for the best configuration for next year."
The seven elite level teams will be joined by the invitational entry Team Brazil led by one of Brazil's best-known sailors Lars Grael. The team representing the home nation will bring together some of the country's top multihull specialists who will be chosen after a series of selection trials.
Crew Lists - Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 8 Florianópolis presented by Land Rover
Skipper/Helm: Morgan Larson (USA) / Tactician: Stuart Pollard (AUS) / Mainsail Trimmer: Pierre-Yves Jorand (SUI) / Headsail Trimmer: Nils Frei (SUI) / Bowman: Yves Detrey (SUI)
Current Series ranking: 2nd position
Skipper/Helm: Phil Robertson (NZL) / Tactician: Garth Ellingham (NZL) / Mainsail Trimmer: Jun Xie (CHN) / Headsail Trimmer: Louis Viat (FRA) / Bowman: Nick Catley (NZL)
Skipper/Helm: Will Tiller (NZL) / Tactician: Matt Steven (NZL) / Mainsail Trimmer: Stewart Dodson (NZL) / Headsail Trimmer: Brad Farrand (NZL) / Bowman: Shaun Mason (GBR)
Current Series ranking: 6th position
Skipper/Helm: Arnaud Psarofaghis (SUI) / Tactician: Bruno Barbarin (FRA) / Mainsail Trimmer: Nils Palmieri (SUI) / Headsail Trimmer: Cedric Schmidt (SUI) / Bowman: Thierry Wasem (SUI)
Current Series ranking: 5th position
Red Bull Sailing Team
Skipper/Helm: Roman Hagara (AUT) / Tactician: Hans-Peter Steinacher (AUT) / Mainsail Trimmer: Matthew Adams (GBR) / Headsail Trimmer: Simon Cooke (NZL) / Bowman: Kinley Fowler (NZL)
Current Series ranking: 3rd position
SAP Extreme Sailing Team
Co-Skipper/Helm: Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) / Co-Skipper/Tactician: Rasmus Køstner (DEN) / Mainsail trimmer: Pete Cumming (GBR) / Headsail Trimmer: Mikkel Røssberg (DEN) / Bowman: Nicolai Sehested (DEN)
Current Series ranking: 4th position
Skipper/Helm: Clínio de Freitas (BRA) / Crew: Cláudia Swan (BRA) / Crew: André Chang (BRA) / Crew: André Mirsky (BRA) / Crew: Daniel Santiago (BRA) / Crew: Bruno di Bernardi (BRA)
The Wave, Muscat
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)
Current Series ranking: 1st position