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.
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