On a stunning Sydney summer’s day Austria’s two-time Olympic sailing gold medallists Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher have kicked off their bid for second place overall in the eight-act global Extreme Sailing Series.
Hagara and Steinacher became instant heroes in the sailing world in 2000 when they won the Tornado class at the Sydney Olympic Games, having their gold medals presented on the steps of the Opera House, the backdrop for today’s racing. The pair went on to win the same class at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Coming into the Sydney event, the season’s final act, the Red Bull Sailing Team with Hagara as skipper and Steinacher his tactician, sit in third place, a mere two points behind Denmark’s SAP Extreme Sailing Team in the battle for the season runner-up position behind runaway leader The Wave, Muscat.
With thousands of spectators lining the foreshore, the Red Bull Sailing Team finished the opening of four days of racing in fifth place, overcoming a minor crash in the second race of the day and a head wound to team member Lionel Vaucher (SUI) later in the afternoon that required treatment at Royal North Shore Hospital. Vaucher is expected to be ready to return to action on Friday.
Despite the dual accidents, Hagara said it was great to be back on the water in Sydney. “Hans Peter and I have such good memories of Sydney, not just from the day we won the gold medal but the lead up to the Sydney Olympics as well,” Hagara said. “We spent a lot of time here preparing for those Olympics and Sydney became a second home for us. Racing today brought back plenty of thoughts of that time and I hope we can take that experience into this weekend and help the Red Bull Sailing Team onto the podium on Sunday and into second for the season.”
For nine seasons, the Extreme Sailing Series has brought the action right to the public, with stadium sailing on catamarans in the heart of vibrant global cities that enables spectators to view the drama of world-class competition up close.
The racing in Sydney continues through Friday and Saturday to the finals and medal ceremonies on Sunday, December 13, when both the event winners and series champions will be crowned. Thousands of spectators are expected to line the waterfront at Mrs Macquaries Point to watch the world’s best teams go head-to-head on a racecourse set between the Royal Botanic Gardens and Sydney Opera House. Fans who can’t make it down to the Race Village can watch live on Fox Sports Australia.