Alinghi (SUI) flew to victory in Sydney, Australia on Sunday as the first team ever to win an Extreme Sailing Series championship on foils, with Oman Air and Red Bull Sailing rounding out the podium.
The Swiss team fought off their season-long rivals on the Oman Air boat skippered by Morgan Larson to win the final regatta and clinch the crown by a mere two points, while the Red Bull Sailing Team led by double Olympic champion Roman Hagara was third.
It was the third Extreme Sailing Series title for Alinghi, and a particularly meaningful one as this year the series featured its first racing on foils with the introduction of GC32 catamarans in the tight stadium format.
Oman Air came into Sydney with a slim lead of two points over Alinghi. And Red Bull Sailing, which had been consistent all season as the only team to podium in all of the previous seven acts, was not far behind, setting up a monumental battle in generally strong winds across the four days of racing.
By Sunday morning, Alinghi had jumped ahead in the act by 19 points, and while Oman Air and Red Bull Sailing both logged podium finishes on the final day, including a win for the Austrians, a charge by SAP Extreme Sailing further heightened the tension. When the double points final race concluded, Alinghi had claimed the top spot for the Act and the championship.
Alinghi helmsman Arnaud Psarofaghis said, “We’re really happy, and pretty relieved too. It was a really intense day – halfway through Oman Air were still able to come back, but when we sailed our own race away from the pack we were really fast, and that was the key for us.”
The 2016 Extreme Sailing Series brought the action right to the public in seven countries, and the historic season marked not just the introduction of the super-light GC32 catamarans – which can reach speeds of almost 40 knots (74 km/h, 46 mph) – but also innovations including a new coastal race and match racing that complement the unique stadium format. Like America’s Cup yachts, the GC32 appears to “fly” as it lifts off the water and rapidly builds speed.
Sydney Final (25 races): 1. Alinghi (SUI) 238 points, 2. SAP Extreme Sailing (DEN) 226, 3. Oman Air (OMA) 215, 4. Red Bull Sailing (AUT) 215, 5. Land Rover BAR (GBR) 193, 6. RNZYS Racing (NZL), 178, 7. Visit Madeira Team Portugal (POR) 177, 8. Team Australia (AUS) 132
Final Overall Ranking Extreme Sailing Series 2016: 1. Alinghi (SUI), 2. Oman Air (OMA), 3. Red Bull Sailing (AUT)