Trends, History & Myths

SAP Blog by Jes Gram-Hansen

Counting down to racing in Cardiff this week for Act 4 of the Extreme Sailing Series™, we’ve spent a lot of our time as a team reviewing what went so right for us in Qingdao and how do we take that winning formula to every Act going forward. What we don’t want to do is relinquish our top spot on the leader board. It was an absolutely fantastic feeling to win in Qingdao. It has been a dream and a goal we have worked so hard to achieve for a long time.  Suddenly all the hard work makes a lot of sense. The first win is often the hardest and we hope we can keep the momentum and stay at the top of the leaderboard in Cardiff. With a great result in Qingdao, we are on a high going into Cardiff but we need to stay focused as we can be sure that the win at this half way stage of the Series will mean the fleet all looking to challenge us and look to us as the team to beat.

The anticipation and tension ahead of racing in Qingdao amongst the teams was high, knowing two things about the race course and the the Chinese Act. Firstly some of the most spectacular crashes have happened in Qingdao and also the known identified trend that historically whoever wins the Chinese Act in Qingdao goes on to win the Championship. Despite the first day of racing being called off due to fog, day 2 proved even more interesting with close racing that meant a collision between us and Gazprom, resulting in boat damage for us. We continued to race during throughout the day but when we took the boat out of the water, the whole at the back of the boat was significantly worse than we initially thought, however we worked through the night to get back on the water the following day.

Qingdao threw everything at us in terms of mixed conditions. As we headed out to race on Day 2 we knew the day belonged to us – we were tactically astute and strongest off the start line as a result we dominated all the proceedings. We know that being a strong team means constantly adapting to the changing conditions and we delivered.

With commanding form we were nailing great wins. We knew that we would burn our speed with too many manoeuvres as tacking and gybing costs you your apparent wind speed, we wanted to make gains through fewest manouevres and minimise the number of tacks. To finally nail a winning act, its hard to describe how it feels, we have the momentum and the confidence. It was a tough test on the final day of racing with the wind varying from 5knts to 20 knots and it would then suddenly drop off although the points margin was high for us so we knew we were at least on the podium if not Act Winners.

We felt the difficulty on the last day. we lost our pace but but the final race it was clear myself and Rasmus Kostner had done it. But it was down to the wire as the Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 3, Qingdao came to a nail-biting conclusion, as SAP we took our first ever Act win – and just for good measure, we also scooped the Land Rover Above and Beyond Award for our outstanding performance as a team in China. We look to Cardiff Bay for the next exciting instalment where we hope to repeat our winning formula.

We have sailed in Cardiff for the past four years, in terms the the race course, it’s is not only one of the narrowest like St Petersburg but also generally the one with the highest top speeds of the first
leg of the course! That calls for lot of caution and high pulses on the team. 

Teams that we think will do well and are on our radar are Redbull and the Wave, who are solid teams that know when and how to push hard on the intense course, but I will not be surprised if we also see Gazprom and GAC putting in some punches with there “all or nothing” attitude.

Cardiff as a venue is different as the atmosphere is electric with so many spectators on the dock, and the perfectly built sailing arena in the middle of the city! It’s a great place to go racing and when the westerly is in there is guaranteed action with top speed reaching and hulls high in the air.
We look forward to taking racing to the next level here in Cardiff.

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