Published: Friday, 04 August 2017

In a week's time Hamburg's River Elbe will become the stadium for the international fleet of GC32s, as the Extreme Sailing Series returns to the German venue for the third consecutive year, presented by Land Rover.

Extreme Sailing Series Returns To Hamburgs River Elbe Stadium

(Photos: Lloyd Images / Extreme Sailing Series - Act 4, Barcelona 2017)

Thousands of spectators are expected to line the shores of the River Elbe in the free-entry public Race Village in front of the Hamburg Cruise Centre in the HafenCity district, as the second half of the 2017 Extreme Sailing Series gets underway with Act 5 from August 10-13.

Current standings see SAP Extreme Sailing Team leading. The Danes are tied on points with Alinghi, but are ahead by virtue of finishing in front of the Swiss team in the last Act in Barcelona, which finished less than two weeks ago.

Oman Air's victory in Act 4, Barcelona, saw it break its habit of finishing in third place, a curse that has loomed over it since the beginning of the season. The team's mainsail trimmer and longstanding Extreme Sailing Series competitor, Pete Greenhalgh, hopes to continue this winning form next week.

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Greenhalgh said: "We had had three thirds before Barcelona which had been frustrating, so we were very pleased with the result there. We still feel like there's quite a lot more to come out of our team so we're looking forward to the next event and trying to keep some momentum going through the Series.

"Hamburg is a really tight racecourse confined by concrete walls, but it can be really good racing if the wind blows from the right directions," added Greenhalgh, whose crew has narrowed the gap to a single point between it and the two Series leaders.

For Arnaud Psarofaghis and his men on board Alinghi, Barcelona was less of a success, as they finished off the podium for the first time this season and were knocked off the top spot on the season leaderboard by SAP Extreme Sailing Team.

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"We know the Elbe is going to be a tricky venue so we just need to prepare as well as we can," said co-skipper and tactician of SAP Extreme Sailing Team, Rasmus Køstner, whose team has now won two of the four Acts in 2017.

"In Hamburg it is important to make the best out of the opportunities you get because it's very difficult to see the breeze and there's a lot of current," commented Køstner on the challenging German venue, located in the heart of one of Europe's largest ports.

Red Bull Sailing Team bagged its best result of the year so far in the previous Act with a second. They remain in fourth place overall going into Act 5, where they secured a podium finish last season.

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Land Rover BAR Academy follow the Austrian team in fifth, just one point ahead of NZ Extreme Sailing Team who sit bottom of the fleet.

"Hopefully this year we are stronger and we take the lessons from the venue last year. I think the tight and narrow course will suit us well, especially if the breeze is up," said Rob Bunce, skipper of the British syndicate, which is sponsored by the Series' Exclusive Automotive Partner and Host Venue Partner to the Act, Land Rover.

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The Kiwi squad will benefit from the coaching of four-time America's Cup sailor Rob Salthouse – father of the team's bowman Josh Salthouse – who is currently preparing for his fourth Volvo Ocean Race campaign with Team Vestas Wind.

They will be joined by new recruit, one of New Zealand's top sailors, Josh Junior. Junior's diverse CV includes a seventh-place finish in the Rio Olympics, a win in the 2016 Princess Sofia Regatta, multiple accomplishments in the Finn and a stint as a 'cyclor' for Emirates Team New Zealand during its winning 35th America's Cup campaign.

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The six regular crews will be joined by a wildcard entry, details of which will be announced in the lead-up to the event.

The Flying Phantom Series returns for the third round. Austrian-flagged Red Bull Sailing Team has taken two wins from two events so far, seeing it sit firmly at the top of the scoreboard. German brothers Raphael Neuhann and Elias Neuhann will sail on board the local team EVO Visian ICL, which currently sits eighth overall.

2017 Extreme Sailing Series™ overall standings

1st SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 43 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) 43 points.
3rd Oman Air (OMA) 42 points.
4th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 37 points.
5th Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) 32 points.
6th NZ Extreme Sailing Team (NZL) 31 points

Flying Phantom Series 2017 overall standings

1st Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 40 points.

2nd Cup Legend (FRA) 36 points.

3rd Culture Foil (FRA) 36 points.

4th Solidaires en Peloton (FRA) 32 points.

5th Oman Sail (OMA) 31 points.

6th Lupe Tortilla (USA) 30 points.

7th UON (POR) 27 points.

8th EVO Visian ICL (GER) 26 points.

9th Masterlan (CZE) 22 points.

10th Back to Basics (FRA) 21 points.

11th Red Bill II (FRA) 18 points

12th ZEPHYR by Idreva (FRA) 18 points.

13th Flying Frogs (FRA) 11 points.