Austria's Hagara brothers demonstrated their sibling rivalry is as strong as ever as they stole the show in the first day of racing at the Extreme 40 World Championship.
Roman Hagara and his big brother Andreas have not raced together since 2003 when they went head to head in the Tornado Europeans.
Back then, Andreas pipped Roman to the post to win the event – but in the beautiful bay of Portoroz, Slovenia, the results were reversed as Roman, skippering Red Bull Extreme Sailing, beat Andreas' Team Petras/France to the top spot in the first two races, leaving his brother to settle for second.
“It's not the first time I have sailed against Andy in a world championship,” explained Roman. “We raced against each other loads in Tornados, sometimes with him in front, sometimes me in front. Last time we finished first and second and here at the Extreme 40 World Championship it is the same. Maybe we can do it again.”
“Roman has been sailing Extreme 40s for a while now so we have to be realistic,” added Andreas. “But we still want to beat him. We just need to find a bit more speed!”
Blazing sun and an eight to ten-knot breeze provided beautiful sailing conditions for the start of the first ever Extreme 40 World Championship, hosted by The Ocean Racing Club based at the Kempinski Palace Hotel in Portoroz.
Racing got under way bang on 1pm with a perfect start, all six teams crossing the line exactly as the gun fired. Favouring the pin end, Red Bull Extreme Sailing pulled away from the pack to round the windward mark in first place, followed closely by Team Petras/France, The Ocean Racing Club and Team Kempinski/Great Britain.
It was a lead they would keep right to the end of the race, which saw The Ocean Racing Club, under the leadership of double Olympic Medallist and Extreme 40 class co-creator Mitch Booth, squeeze out Team Kempinski/Great Britain, skippered by double Olympic Gold Medallist Shirley Robertson, to snatch third place following a great downwind duel.
Team IWC/Holland and Team Nokia/Hungary were not far behind, concluding the first ever race of the inaugural Extreme 40 World Championship.
Race two was a close battle which saw The Ocean Racing Club take an early lead and Shirley Robertson's Team Kempinski/Great Britain penalised for being over the start line. Red Bull Extreme Sailing rounded the top mark in second and managed to haul in and overtake The Ocean Racing Club.
Always searching for more wind, the fleet split equally up the windward leg. Red Bull Extreme Sailing were first to round the mark and set off back towards the leeward mark with gennaker – and one hull – flying, extending their lead over the pack.
Chasing hard were The Ocean Racing Club, Team Petras/France and Team Kempinski/Great Britain with Team IWC/Holland and Team Nokia/Hungary not far behind. The slick, experienced Red Bull Extreme Sailing team were uncatchable and after three laps crossed the finish line in first to take their second win of the series.
Team Petras/France got their revenge in the third and final race of the day, taking second place ahead of Red Bull Extreme Sailing. However it was Mitch Booth and his experienced Extreme 40 crew who dominated the third race right from the beginning.
Booth, at the helm of home team The Ocean Racing Club, led from the off in a tight start. The Ocean Racing Club led the fleet round the three laps of the windward-leeward course in a display of dominance that resulted in their first line honours of the championship.
Booth said: “It was a tricky day. Obviously the Red Bull Extreme Sailing guys did a great job but in the last race we got into the swing of it and escaped at the start. We were really pleased with the last race of the day.”
Also pleased with her performance was Shirley Robertson. She said: “We had a reasonable day, we were competitive, but Red Bull Extreme Sailing are fast. They seem to be able to get out of the starting blocks and put the pedal down. This is a great venue though and the racing is close – no-one is unbeatable.”
Tomorrow the six teams will break from the Olympic-style 45-minute races for two coastal races along the beautiful Slovenian shoreline to Koper and back. Booth added: “The coastal races will be a totally different strategy. It's not a traditional upwind race, but we have Tomaz Copi onboard who is from this bay so his local knowledge will be invaluable.” Racing is scheduled to start at 11am CEST.
Watch all the action at the Extreme 40 World Championship channel at youtube.com
Results after day one of the Extreme 40 World Championship:
1. Red Bull Extreme Sailing: 6-6-4 16
2. Team Petras/France: 5-5-5 15
3. The Ocean Racing Club: 4-3-6 13
4. Team Kempinski/Great Britain: 3-4-3 10
5. Team IWC/Holland: 2-2-2 6
6. Team Nokia/Hungary: 1-1-1 3