Final season of competition for double Olympic Champions Hagara and Steinacher is even more highly anticipated after 2020 inaction
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Red Bull Sailing’s second season in the GC32 Racing Tour will be unmissable. After taking third overall in their 2019 debut, the team had to wait out 2020. Now the Austrian boat is back, fresh off training with a seasoned crew and renewed determination. The watersport legends who lead Red Bull Sailing – Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher – have announced that this will be their last season of racing. They’ll attack for the championship every step of the way; but to make it, they must overcome the reigning titleholders, two-time America’s Cup winners Alinghi.
Salzburg (AUSTRIA) – The GC32 Racing Tour is a battlefield for the best sailors on the planet, all sailing a formidable foiling catamaran that reaches speeds of nearly 80 km/h. Hagara (skipp
er, helm) and Steinacher (tactician) quickly proved that they were up to the fight when they led Red Bull Sailing to its standout debut season in 2019. Afterwards, the Austrian duo with two Olympic golds and almost countless world, European and national honors revealed that 2020 would be their last competitive campaign, only to see the calendar cancelled. Now that racing is firing up, they’ll try to cap off their careers by taking the title from a field of top international teams that include their fierce Swiss rival Alinghi, as well Zoulou, the French team that finished third overall in 2018.
“The reason we’re still racing is because we love to compete, we love to win. We’ve raced together for a long time, and that’s how we want to finish it out,” explains Steinacher, who says the team will be taking a race-by-race, regatta-by-regatta approach to success.
One of the factors that will make Red Bull Sailing a favorite in the GC32 Racing Tour this year is that Hagara and Steinacher will have their complete Red Bull Sailing crew from 2019 back on board. Australia’s Rhys Mara (trimmer), fellow Aussie Mark Spaermann (board trimmer) and Sweden’s Julius Hallström (bowman) are powerful young sailors, and the five-man team possess a full season of experience together in vying against the best in the world.
“By the end of 2019 the crew was working really well together. We showed our potential with some nice race wins, and we’d gotten closer to Alinghi,” Hagara points out. “This year we’re looking to win at least one event, and then the big goal would be to win the overall season. I think everybody has quite a hunger to get going!”
Hagara and Steinacher did manage to put the Red Bull Sailing GC32 on the water for three weeks at Europe’s Lake Constance last summer, but a training camp just completed at Lake Garda, Italy was their first opportunity in a year and a half to bring the entire team together.
Steinacher says, “With a very limited amount of time on the water before racing begins, it really helps that we are used to working together previously. Everyone knew his role coming into the training, and I think after a few days we found our rhythm and got pretty close to the level where we left off in 2019.”
The GC32 Racing Tour takes off on 30 June, with four regattas in three breathtaking locations, all known for conditions that allow the boats to get up on their foils and fly. Lagos, Portugal will host two summer regattas, offering the teams valuable practice time in-between. Then in September it’s the GC32 World Championship in Villasimius, Sardinia, Italy. Finally, in November the GC32 Season Finale 2021 will be held off the Spanish coast at Mar Menor.
While Hagara and Steinacher won’t be competing after this season, they will continue to sail hard and lead progression. Hagara says, “We’re looking at projects in some very special locations with beautiful backdrops. Fans will still see us sailing, and maybe they will even have a chance to come and sail with us!”
Steinacher concludes, “Sailing is our life. And right now, the most important thing is that we are together again with the team. A strong team can do a lot, and that’s exactly what we will be this year: a strong team, strong together. That’s how we like to sail.”
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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 GC32 Racing Tour and by serving as sports directors for Red Bull Foiling Generation.
About the GC32 Racing Tour
GC32 course configurations are similar to those used in the America’s Cup. Venues are chosen with the aim of providing the best chance of optimum conditions to get the catamarans flying on their foils for the maximum amount of time. The 2021 tour consists of four regattas across three venues.
30 June – 4 July: Lagos 1, Portugal
28 July – 1 August: Lagos 2, Portugal
15–19 September: Villasimius, Sardinia, Italy (World Championship)
3–7 November: Mar Menor, Spain