30 photos of the crashes and splashes of 'Extreme Sailing' on Sydney Harbour

Just hanging around on Sydney Harbour. Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

The sailing equivalent of Formula One racing took place on Sydney Harbour on the weekend when the Extreme Sailing Series returned to the city for the final races of the season.

It’s the third time the international sailing series has taken place in Sydney and this time, the crews from eight countries – Australia and New Zealand were given a wild card entries – were back on a new catamarans, called the CG32s, which rise out of the water on hydrofoils and are able to sail faster than the wind.

Each boat is worth up to $AU500,000 (if you want to buy one, the starting price is $340,000) with a top speed of around 38 knots (70km/h).

The catamaran is 10-metres long and 6m wide, with a mast 16.50m high. When all three sails are up, they cover 173.5m2.

The winds were so strong last Thursday for the opening of the four-day series that two boats capsized and racing was called off for the afternoon because it was too dangerous.

RNZYS Lautrec Racing skipper Chris Steele described the day as “almost survival mode”.

It’s the third year in a row Sydney’s powerful sea breezes forced organisers to cancel some of the racing, reminding everyone just how extreme Mother Nature can be.

Here are the crashes on day one, which happened in a single race, as Land Rover BAR Academy flipped after burying the nose of the boat – the aquatic equivalent of hitting a brick wall – while Visit Madeira capsized after being blow over by the 22 knot breeze.

Even after nearly 200 races in eight locations this year, the ultimate winner, Swiss boat Alinghi, only secured the season victory in the penultimate race in Sydney, just pipping Oman Air with Red Bull Racing in third place.

Alas it’s the first and last time Sydney will host the GC32s, with the series heading to Mexico in 2017 and dropping Australia.

Here’s a look at the action from the weekend.

The fresh winds made sailing exciting on Sydney Harbour

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

There are 25 races per venue, lasting less than 15 minutes each

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Australia had a wild card entry

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Australia finished last of the 8 teams, and managed a 3rd on Sunday

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

The Australian boat was skippered by Sean Langman, a Sydney to Hobart race veteran

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Team Australia in action: Sean Langman, Seve Jarvin, Marcus Ashley-Jones, Rhys Mara & Gerard Smith

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Team Australia fights to stay upright

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Land Rover BAR Academy finished the meet in 5th place after crashing on day one.

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Burying the bow of a catamaran is like hitting a brick wall

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Momentum soon takes over as the wind stays in the sails

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

And your world starts to turn upside down

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Sailors call this 'turning turtle'

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Land Drover had its ups as well as its down up on the foils

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Swiss entry Alinghi won the season for the third time in 10 years

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Alinghi rose to the occasion

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

New Zealand was also granted a wild card entry

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Oman Air gathers speed as it rises onto the foils

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

But it was a wet weekend

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

A very wet one

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

The catamarans can move at up to 70kmh

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Sydney's gusty winds made staying upright a challenge

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Visit Madeira lost the challenge on day one...

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

...and capsized

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Falling six metres into the sea is one reason everyone wears helmets

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

As well as sponsoring the Danish team, SAP provides racing analytics

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

That data brings the races to life for sailing fans...

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

...who can watch races unfold in real time on a virtual course via the tracking data.

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

The teams also use that data to improve their performance

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

Next year, the last races of the season are moving to Mexico.

Photo: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images

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