Olympic champions kick off 2018 season with Chris Draper at the helm
Two-time Olympic Gold Medalists Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher of Austria are shaking things up for Red Bull Sailing’s ninth season in the Extreme Sailing Series. They’ll foil into the 2018 opener of the stadium racing calendar with Chris Draper (GBR) at the helm. The foiling action gets underway in Muscat, Oman on 14-17 March 2018.
SALZBURG (Austria) – The Extreme Sailing Series is one of the sport’s fastest, most intense circuits and draws the best sailing talent from all disciplines – World Champions and Round the World sailing greats as well as America’s Cup winners and Olympic heroes.
Four new crew members will join the growing team from Austria in 2018. Chris Draper, who has been part of two America’s Cup campaigns and brings a lot of technical knowledge about foiling, will take the helm. In addition, the team includes a new crop of young pros: Neil Hunter of Scotland, who was on the winning team in the 2017 Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and sailed in the America’s Cup with Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing; Ed Powys (UK), who also sailed on the Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing team; Rhys Mara (AUS), a former 49er competitor who has raced GC32s; and floater Dan Morris (USA), who won the World Match Racing Tour.
“Roman is still the skipper for Red Bull Sailing” says Steinacher, who is suffering from a shoulder injury and hopes to be back on the GC32 at the second Act of the season in Italy. “We are really looking forward to see Chris Draper racing in Oman. We feel he has the right mix of expertise for these boats and this format.”
In eight stops across three continents, the racing brings the action right to the public. With the five-sailor GC32s capable of reaching almost 40 knots (74 kph, 46 mph) as they lift off the water and “fly,” the spectacle is breathtaking.
In May the excitement ramps up fast, as Italy sees the Extreme Sailing Series and the GC32 Racing Tour fleets combine for the first-ever World Championship since the GC32s became a World Sailing-recognized class last year. Next up, a return to beautiful Barcelona, Spain in June, followed in July by a regatta on the sunny shores of Portugal.
Dramatic St. Petersburg, Russia sets the stage for the second half of the season with Act 5 in August, and before the month is out, a stop in Cardiff will mark 2018’s last European regatta amid Welsh “Year of the Sea” celebrations. Then it all comes down to North America: First, an October faceoff in San Diego, USA, the California destination that went wild for the stadium format in 2017. And as November turns to December, fans at the grand finale in Los Cabos, Mexico will see champions crowned again.
As the winners of the Extreme Sailing Series 2017, Denmark’s SAP Extreme Sailing have set the benchmark. With the second and third place finishers – two-time America’s Cup champion Alinghi (SUI) and Oman Air (OMA) – also returning, all eyes will be on Red Bull Sailing. The Austrian team has continually been in the mix for top placement.
“We’re not looking at this as a building year. We want to put the pressure on the competition from the start,” states Hagara. “We all think that the expertise of Hans Peter and myself, along with Chris’ outstanding skills and the talent of our new young crew members, should be a very successful combination – hopefully successful enough to take the overall title.”
About Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher are Austria’s most successful summer sport athletes, having won two Olympic gold medals (Sydney, Athens) and numerous world championships. They are the only Austrians to have competed on the America’s Cup World Series. Determined to see sailing progress to the next level, they groom the next generation of sailors by leading the Red Bull Sailing Team in the Extreme Sailing Series and by serving as sports directors for Red Bull Foiling Generation and the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in 2013 and 2017.
About the Extreme Sailing Series 2018
In eight events spanning three continents, the Extreme Sailing Series brings the action right to the public, with stadium sailing on foiling catamarans in the heart of vibrant global cities. Schedule 2018:
14-17 March: Muscat, Oman 24-27 May: GC32 World Championship, Lake Garda, Italy 14-17 June: Barcelona, Spain 05-08 July: Portugal 09-12 August: St. Petersburg, Russia 24-27 August: Cardiff, UK 18-21 October: San Diego, USA 29 November-2 December: Los Cabos, Mexico