The Extreme Sailing Series is designed for adrenaline junkies who race identical 40-foot performance honeycomb-cored, carbon-fiber catamarans at double-digit speeds that have been clocked as high as 30 knots.
Tricky wind conditions, combined with an all-star level of competition, inevitably lead to spectacular crashes, capsizes and near misses.
So it wasn’t all that shocking when on the final day of the Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series Act 3 last week in Qingdao, China, spectators saw one of the biggest crashes in the history of the series, now in its eighth season. With gusts to 25 knots on the course, Red Bull Sailing Team T-boned Alinghi at nearly 15 knots, knocking both boats out of the competition for the day.
“We were lining up at the start and approaching the line with 10 seconds to go, and most of the fleet was on port,” Alinghi helmsman Morgan Larson said. “Red Bull ducked behind us, the winds were shifty and up and down, there was too much of a puff, and they couldn’t get the bear away and T-boned us — it happens.”
That’s life in the fast lane.