Land Rover BAR Academy: A young team with big ambitions in the 2017 Extreme Sailing Series™

Monday, 27 February 2017

Land Rover BAR Academy today becomes the final team to join the line-up for the 2017 Extreme Sailing Series™ season opener in Muscat, as it launches its second campaign in the world’s leading global Stadium Racing circuit.

The squad, which was formed in 2016 with ambitions to develop some of Britain’s top sailing talent, will also compete in the 2017 Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in Bermuda in June.

Rob Andrews, the Sailing Team Manager, spoke about the unique attraction of the Extreme Sailing Series to Land Rover BAR Academy: “The fleet is so close and that allows us to see how our boat handling, tactics and starting are progressing, which is almost impossible to replicate in training,” he said.

The opening Act of the 2017 Extreme Sailing Series starts in Oman on 8 March, but the new Land Rover BAR Academy squad will head out early to compete in the GC32 Championship from 28 February, the first time that the GC32 Racing Tour and Extreme Sailing Series have held a combined event.

At the end of Land Rover BAR Academy’s debut season in 2016, Scottish skipper Neil Hunter was promoted to the Land Rover BAR senior America’s Cup team. Taking his place as skipper this season is Rob Bunce, who hails from a short-handed offshore sailing background.

“It is a real honour to step up into the role of skipper for the first Extreme Sailing Series event of the year in Muscat, Oman,” said Bunce, who competed in the 2015 Solitaire du Figaro.

“As a team, we were really happy with how we ended the 2016 season in Sydney. Our goals and targets were achieved and we really started to gel as a squad and prove to the other teams that we are tough competition.

“I have big shoes to fill taking over from Neil, but I hope to lead the Land Rover BAR Academy team into the season and look to continue developing and staying amongst the front of the fleet. We have worked hard over the winter both on and off the water in the gym, so we all feel very prepared going into the season,” added Bunce, who competed last season for the team as a floater.

The rest of the crew, all of whom competed on board Land Rover BAR Academy last season, will be rotating their roles throughout the Act; Oli Greber, Adam Kay and Sam Batten rotating as trimmers and floaters; Chris Taylor and Owen Bowerman rotating on the helm, and Elliot Hanson and Will Alloway rotating on mainsail trim.

This will be the first event for the newest recruit and the only female sailor to compete in the fleet, Annabel Vose, who will be on board the team’s GC32 as strategist. Vose competed on board Act 7 wildcard Thalassa Magenta Racing last season, the first ever all-female crew to compete in the Series.

Act 1 of the Extreme Sailing Series will run from 8-11 March in Muscat, Oman, with live streaming of the racing on the official Facebook and YouTube channel on race days three and four and a live TV broadcast for the final 90 minutes of racing on day four.

Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) crew line-up for Act 1, Muscat

Skipper: Rob Bunce (GBR)
Helm: Chris Taylor (GBR)
Helm: Owen Bowerman (GBR)
Mainsail trimmer: Elliot Hanson (GBR)
Mainsail trimmer: Will Alloway (GBR)
Trimmer/floater: Adam Kay (GBR)
Trimmer/floater: Oli Greber (GBR)
Trimmer/floater: Sam Batten (GBR)
A new-look Oman Air will aim to kick start their 2017 season in style as top-class sailing teams from across the globe converge on Muscat, Oman, for the first ever GC32 Championship this week. Strategist: Annabel Vose (GBR)

The crew, this year led by $1 million World Match Racing Tour winner Phil Robertson, will go into battle against rivals from the Extreme Sailing Series and GC32 Racing Tour as the two events come together for the first time. 

Although new to the team, Robertson is no stranger to super-fast foiling catamarans having skippered wildcard crew Gazprom Team Russia in Act 5 of the Extreme Sailing Series last year in St Petersburg.

Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari, Ed Smyth and James Wierzbowski, as Oman Air attempt to get their season off to a flying start on home waters. 

The Championship, which kicks off tomorrow, will provide a perfect opportunity to test their skills ahead of the opening Act of the Extreme Sailing Series starting in Muscat directly afterwards on March 8.
Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari, Ed Smyth and James Wierzbowski, as Oman Air attempt to get their season off to a flying start on home waters.

Backing him will be long-serving crewmembers Pete

“I'm the newbie on board and I've got a bit of catching up to do, so the GC32 Championship will be the perfect way to do that,” Robertson said. “We will try to take as much from it as we can before the start of the Extreme Sailing Series. I have always looked up to teams like Oman Air so to have the opportunity to sail with them now is pretty special. It's early days but so far everything has been going brilliantly.” 

Among the teams Oman Air will have to watch out for are Swiss outfit Alinghi, who pipped them to the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series title at the season finale in Sydney. 

Red Bull Sailing Team, led by double Olympic gold medallists Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher, also feature in the star-studded line-up alongside SAP Extreme Sailing Team with America's Cup sailor Adam Minoprio at the helm.

For Greenhalgh, Oman Air's tactician and trimmer, the six-day GC32 Championship is the perfect opportunity to establish themselves as a team. 

“We're a new-look team and we've still got to learn about one another but we've had a few days training together now and we're sailing really well, really quickly,” he said. “I'm excited about what's to come. If everything goes well I think we can be in the hunt for a podium spot and that's certainly what we'll be fighting for. It will be very close and very interesting to see how each of the teams perform.” 

Despite the high level of competition Al Mashari, Oman Air's Omani bowman, is hopeful that the team’s home advantage might give them the edge in their quest for a podium finish.

“As a team, we have sailed these waters a lot in the past, but then again so have the other Extreme Sailing Series crews! Racing at home is always special and a cause for pride for me, hopefully we will do well and do Oman Air and my country proud,” he said. “The GC32 Championship is the perfect way to start the 2017 season and we can't wait to get going.”

The GC32 Championship kicks off on Tuesday 28 February and runs until Sunday 5 March. 

It is the latest high-profile event to be hosted by Oman Sail, the national initiative to reignite the maritime heritage of Oman. Muscat has featured on the Extreme Sailing Series calendar for seven years and in 2016 was a venue for the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series.


Daphne Morgan Barnicoat Assim Al Saqri

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 28 February 2017 )