Extreme Sailing Series fleet Porto bound for Act 5

2013 Extreme Sailing Series -Two of three Swiss teams have become sparring partners for three days of intense training on Lake Geneva ahead of Act 5, Porto.
© Christian Pfahl / Realteam
Following Extreme Sailing Series Acts in Oman, Singapore and China, the Extreme 40 fleet is bound for Porto, Portugal, a venue that in 2012 attracted the biggest crowds Series has ever witnessed.

With just over four weeks to go, two of the three Swiss teams competing have drawn the lines against each other as sparring partners over three days of intensive training. Realteam, a new entry for 2013 built around the successful team who claimed the D35 championship in 2012, and Team Tilt, the Swiss Red Bull Youth America’s Cup team who have been granted wildcard entry for Porto, spent three days on Lake Geneva in their Décision 35s fine tuning their skills in preparation for the Stadium Racecourse.

Team Tilt’s 23-year-old skipper Lucien Cujean, and Realteam’s Jérôme Clerc both admit adjusting from the Swiss lakes to ‘Stadium Racing’ is the biggest challenge in switching classes. With three Acts now under his belt this year, Clerc reflected on Realteam’s learning curve. 'The biggest challenge for us has been to get used to this format of regattas. It is very short, very exciting, high-pressure racing. We have had to get used to this, I think we are on the way.' Cujean mirrored Clerc’s thoughts, predicting that for Team Tilt, 'The toughest aspect will be to take quick decisions, avoid contact and navigate properly among a very competitive fleet. The Extreme Sailing Series has its own format of short and fast races that will be a change to what we are used to.'

2013 Extreme Sailing Series - Team Tilt and Realteam in training for Act 5, Porto in their Décision 35s on Lake Geneva.
© Christian Pfahl / Realteam

The narrow starts and ultra-short course of the Extreme 40 stadium racecourse dictated the teams’ training regime, which is of particular value for Team Tilt who will only have 10 days sailing on an Extreme 40 under their belts before the Act in Porto (three days from the Pirelli Regatta and seven days training in Porto). Clerc gave a rundown of what the training entailed: 'Over the three days, we set up a lot of short races and practiced a lot of reaching starts to try and replicate the Extreme 40 racecourse. We were on different boats – the D35 – and we sailed with five crew instead of the usual six to try and match the Extreme 40. It was very demanding, but a good session to help us improve in this format.'

For Team Tilt the main benefit of the two-boat training was to fast track their learning, as Cujean explained, 'Realteam is a very competitive crew and a great sparring partner. We were very lucky weather wise and did have optimum wind conditions for some great training on the water with our two coaches Laurent Voiron and Arnaud Psarofaghis, (who competed in 2012 aboard Groupe Edmond de Rothschild finishing third overall and with Realteam this year). So, all in all, it was very beneficial… but we will see in Porto how we will perform!'

Going on to talk about their objectives in Porto, Cujean continued, 'Our objective is to be competitive enough to stay in the game. This is our first competition at the Extreme 40 level so we have no ambitions on the final results but we will fight hard on each race! Good starts will be crucial as well as mark approaches. This is also our last opportunity of high-level competition before our departure to San Francisco to start training on the AC45. We are also looking forward to competing in Porto with some of the other Youth teams.' The Kiwi Youth America’s Cup contingent on GAC Pindar compete as a full Series team, while the Portuguese outfit on ROFF Cascais Sailing Team will participate as the home nation team at the Portuguese Act.

And for Realteam? Well, with three Acts under their belt, the team is hoping they can up their game in the European Acts. 'Our main aim? Don’t sail into the river wall! Seriously, we want to improve. We had some good results in China but we need to raise the bar of our average results. They have been mixed so far.'

Act 4, Porto, Extreme Sailing Series. Day 03. Images showing the fleet in front of crowds. Porto, Portugal. Credit: Lloyd Images

Once again eight Extreme 40s will be on the starting grid in Porto, including current Series leader and fellow Swiss countrymen Alinghi led by Ernesto Bertarelli, the only team to have finished on the podium at every Act so far this year. Act 4, Istanbul has been postponed with an ongoing review of rescheduling later in the year by Series organisers OC Sport. For the latest information check Extreme Sailing Series.