Pre-Oman tales from the tiller


With less than 14 days until the starting signal goes off of the first Act of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series, helmsman Jes Gram-Hansen is  sharing his thoughts on the upcoming task.

The setting is clear; 8 teams will participate, there’s a new foiling catamaran in play and basically two of the teams have a head start on the fleet – Alinghi and Oman – since they have spent a whole season in the GC32 already. So what to expect?

“For the fleet, this is all new and with many years of experience in the previous boats, we knew every corner of the boat, every nut and bolt and therefore knew exactly where and when to go full throttle with the machine. This time we have to learn the hard way again with a trial and error scenario, hoping for the least carnage and repairs. That will essentially put the fleet in a 90% mode in Oman and time and experience will mature the fleet to the level of 98% within the next couple of acts, figuratively. There’s still a learning curve to be climbed and that goes for maneuvering too.”

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Jes continues:

“The crew as a whole works great together and we are all very focused with improving both individually and as a team., form the gym, the tool shed to the trampoline. And since we launched for the maiden voyage in Dubai mid February combined with the SAP analysis of the sailing trials we have already seen great improvements, at least a couple of eye openers of what not to do”.

There’s many reasons to believe that the Race Committee will start out cautiously with upwind starts, but Jes does’nt buy that and believes that reaching starts are on the menu right from the start.

“Starts will be crucial. The difference between a foiling and non-foiling start will be gained or lost boat lengths in seconds and will generate immediate separations in the fleet. That timing to the starting gun will be the key factor to how your tactical options unfold for most of the race”.

“I expect both Alinghi and Oman to lean on ther experience and be most consistent and I hope that we can hold on to them and keep within contention for a podium place. It’s not that we do not want to win all the time, but realistically we are among  the teams who have to catch up the next couple of acts”.

So when Jes and the crew have to focus on max speed, trim and balance, the tactician Rasmus Køstner have another very important job and that is hitting the laylines correctly apart from having the overview of the continous development of the weather patterns and the other teams movements. Hitting laylines correctly are to the tactician the equivalent of a helmsmans ability to hit a starting line in full speed – gybe too early and you will be dead slow at the bottom mark losing massively and if you go too late it is lost ground to those who hit the layline correctly.

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In many ways, Act 1 is  a milestone and stick with us for more updates in the days around 16th – 19th of March.