Extreme 40s Coming to Sydney Harbour

Next week Sydney Harbour plays host to the eighth leg of the worldwide tour of Extreme 40s racing series.

What’s that? You ask.

Extreme 40s is sailing’s answer to speedway racing – including the crashes!

The series began in 2005 after the sailing fraternity acknowledged their sport was out of touch with most people. For too long competitive sailing has been perceived as belonging to a few wealthy, exclusive, class-ridden snobs; with much of the racing taking place without any audience at all – far out at sea.

Other, more inclusive, sports were reaping the benefit of appealing to greater numbers. And so it was decided to create a sailing series for the masses.

Enter Extreme 40s: Lots of high speed boats (sometimes reaching speeds of 60 km/ hour), crammed into in a short, tight course for a stadium stting. The boats are basically a super modified version of the Tornado class with a crew of four. They compete in multiple races of 20 minutes duration.

As you can imagine, there’s plenty of aggro, plenty of speed, and plenty of crashes. And believe me, when these boats hit one another they do damage.

Recently, in Qingdo, China, the Red Bull series leader attempted a risk manoeuvre to slip in front of Alinghi. It didn’t work. The portside hull of Red Bull drove into Alinghi like a knife, pinning the two together. At the speed they were travelling, I was incredible no one was injured.

“The first thought was to go in front of them,” Hagara, skipper of Red Bull told reporters.

“Just at the last moment I called ‘we are going in the back. We chose a little bit too late,’ he shrugged. “All we could do was get the gys in the back of the boat and … yeah, hold on.

“It was a big bang. But that’s the thing with multi-hulls, they’re very hard to manoeuvre, and if you’re too late, you have no steering anymore. You go straight.”

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