Long one of our favorite racing series out there, the Extreme Sailing Series will bring eight teams to sunny Southern California to contest the penultimate round of their 2017 championship in a weekend that promises to provide plenty of action and a few surprises. Taking place October 19-22 in foiling 32-ft GC32 catamarans, the ESS is a one-design multihull championship that has been touring the globe for years (foiling for the last three) and often serves as a training ground, and a proving ground, for upcoming and current America’s Cup talent.
In a style similar to that of the America’s Cup, the ESS combines the high-speed drama of foiling cats with top-tier international talent and an intimate stadium-racing format that allows sailing fans to be just mere meters from the action while viewing from shore. This weekend’s racing in San Diego should offer unparalleled access and visibility to shoreside fans as the racing takes place just off Harbor Island, the site of a free-to-the-public race village.
One of the biggest story lines of this event is that of Santa Cruz native and former Alinghi and Oman Air helmsman Morgan Larson returning to the series with the wild-card Team Extreme San Diego. Larson has sailed on the ESS circuit for years, winning the title in 2014 with Alinghi (the last year of non-lifting-foil-equipped boats) and narrowly missing out on the title last year with Oman Air. Alongside Morgan will be an all-American team of sailors and shore crew who have experience at the highest level and should be a force to be reckoned with on the racecourse, despite this being a one-off appearance for the team. "We have a complete Californian squad from our shore team to our sailing team; three of us are San Diego natives. We may be a late entry this season but the caliber of guys on our team is second to none," commented Larson.
A related headline for this weekend’s regatta is that of America’s Cup skipper and the winningest Olympic sailor of all time, Sir Ben Ainslie, who will fall in on his own Land Rover BAR Academy team and take the helm in a one-off appearance as well.
SAP Extreme Sailing Team, Oman Air and Alinghi occupy the podium with just two rounds to go in this year’s championship, though just a handful of points separates all three teams with two rounds left to sail. Conditions should be lighter on Thursday with a traditional northwesterly filling in Friday-Sunday, which should create picture-perfect flat-water sailing conditions for the GC32s, which need only 10 knots of breeze to get up on the foils. Check back here for a full recap next week in ‘Lectronic Latitude.
Find out more about this weekend’s event here.