Three Swiss teams for Porto
Following events in Oman, Singapore and China, and after their event in Istanbul had to be postponed (and will be rescheduled this year), the Extreme 40 fleet is headed to Porto, a venue that in 2012 attracted the biggest crowds the Extreme Sailing Series has ever witnessed.
This year's event is due to take place over 25-28 July here and with just over four weeks to go, two of the three Swiss teams competing have drawn up battle lines against each other as sparring partners over three days of intensive training.
Realteam, a new entry for 2013 built around the successful team which claimed the D35 championship in 2012, and Team Tilt, the Swiss Red Bull Youth America’s Cup team, who have been granted wildcard entry for Porto, spent three days on Lake Geneva in their Décision 35s fine tuning their skills in preparation for Porto.
Team Tilt’s 23-year-old skipper Lucien Cujean, and Realteam’s Jérôme Clerc both admit adjusting from the Swiss lakes to the ‘stadium format' they'll race on in Porto is a bigger challenge than changing boats.
With three events now under his belt this year, Clerc reflected on Realteam’s learning curve: “The biggest challenge for us has been to get used to this format of regattas. It is very short, very exciting, high-pressure racing. We have had to get used to this, I think we are on the way.”
Cujean mirrored Clerc’s thoughts, predicting that for Team Tilt “the toughest aspect will be to take quick decisions, avoid contact and navigate properly among a very competitive fleet. The Extreme Sailing Series has its own format of short and fast races that will be a change to what we are used to.”
The narrow starts and ultra-short course of the Extreme 40 stadium racecourse dictated the teams training regime, which is of particular value for Team Tilt, which will only have 10 days sailing on an Extreme 40 under their belts before racing begins in Porto (three days from the Pirelli Regatta and seven days training in Porto).
Clerc gave a run down of what the training entailed: “Over the three days, we set up a lot of short races and practiced a lot of reaching starts to try and replicate the Extreme 40 race course. We were on different boats – the D35 – and we sailed with five crew instead of the usual six to try and match the Extreme 40. It was very demanding, but a good session to help us improve in this format.”
For Team Tilt the main benefit of the two-boat training was to fast track their learning, as Cujean explained, “Realteam is a very competitive crew and a great sparring partner. We were very lucky weather wise and did have optimum wind conditions for some great training on the water with our two coaches Laurent Voiron and Arnaud Psarofaghis, (who competed in 2012 aboard Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, finishing third overall and with Realteam this year). So, all in all, it was very beneficial… but we will see in Porto how we will perform!”
Going on to talk about their objectives in Porto, Cujean continued, “Our objective is to be competitive enough to stay in the game. This is our first competition at the Extreme 40 level so we have no ambitions on the final results but we will fight hard on each race! Good starts will be crucial as well as mark approaches. This is also our last opportunity of high-level competition before our departure to San Francisco to start training on the AC45. We are also looking forward to competing in Porto with some of the other Youth teams.” The Kiwi Youth America’s Cup contingent on GAC Pindar compete as a full Series team, while the Portuguese outfit on ROFF Cascais Sailing Team will participate as the home nation team at the Portuguese Act.
And for Realteam? Well, with three events under their belt, the team is hoping they can up their game in the European events. “Our main aim? Don’t sail into the river wall! Seriously, we want to improve. We had some good results in China but we need to raise the bar of our average results. They have been mixed so far.”
Once again eight Extreme 40s will be on the starting grid in Porto, including current Series leader and fellow Swiss countrymen Alinghi led by Ernesto Bertarelli, the only team to have finished on the podium at every event so far this year.
- 2013 Extreme Sailing Series™ nearing halfway stage as the fleet head to Europe and the ‘best-ever’ stadium the fleet have ever raced on in Porto, Portugal
- Swiss teams Team Tilt and Realteam embark on intensive training programme in preparation for tight stadium racecourse
- Read the latest edition of Extreme Sailing Series™ magazine online with exclusive features written by journalists from SportsPro Magazine, The Financial Times, Square Mile Magazine, thedailysail.com, Sail Racing Magazine and yachtracing.biz HERE.