With just than than 12 hours to go until racing starts in Istanbul, there is a certain amount of trepidation and anticipation amongst the fleet, with the wind predicted to be blowing 18 knots and gusting to 28 knots when racing kicks off later today.
Unable to have their usual practice day shakedown due to conditions today which looked set to build to over 30 knot gusts, the Extreme 40 sailors are eager to put their machines to the test, and none more so than Red Bull Sailing Team. The Austrian team have been quietly and steadily racking up the points throughout the year, a win at the opening Act in Singapore their best result of the season. They arguably benefitted most from SAP Extreme Sailing Team’s poor result in Saint Petersburg six weeks ago, which paved the way for Roman Hagara and his team to climb up to second place on the Series standings. But with two Acts left, are the team going for the Series title, or defending second place?
Knowing he is the man to stand between Leigh McMillan and his move for the Series trophy, Hagara radiates confidence: “McMillan and I are friends so why would he target us?” Hagara jokes. “There is no change in our game plan, keep the team work perfect which we always try to do and battle it out for the top spot. I really think we can win at this Act.”
With 8 points between the Austrian team and The Wave, Muscat who are currently leading the Series overall, Hagara reflects on the Series title: “I think we will need a miracle to win the overall Series. We know Leigh is very good at pulling another win out of the bag just like that, so it is going to be a big challenge to knock him off that top spot but we are certainly going to try.”
The Wave, Muscat and SAP Extreme Sailing Team have traded places and points at the top of the leaderboard all year, and on the water have had their own rivalry, which seemingly Red Bull Sailing Team have managed to stay clear of. But Shaun Mason (GBR), trimmer onboard and now in his third season, predicts that may be about to change: “We always have a good little giggle when we see Leigh taking out the Danes, but I think we might be the target at this Act as we are the closest to him in terms of points at the moment. If he pushes anyone back it will be them or us. We would do the same if the shoe was on the other foot. It’s all part of the sport, you are out here to win so why wouldn’t you.”