Grand Finale - Extreme Sailing Series
What an amazing way to finish off the 11th consecutive year of the Extreme Sailing Series. The first time to Mexico in the history of the series and for the battle to unfold on the waters off Los Cabos.
The 1st day of racing highlighted the Extreme element of the series with strong gusty offshore winds pushing teams to their limits knowing that the podium places were all going to be decided at this Act. With 3 near capsizes from teams Land Rover BAR Academy with Olympic Gold Medalist Giles Scott at the helm, defending champions Alinghi and veterans of the ESS Redbull Sailing Team.
On a day that provided some of the most spectacular racing to watch and commentate on it also provided us with a new top speed during racing hit by SAP Extreme with 33.7 knots which on the short punchy race courses was phenomenal an crowned them Zhik Speed Machine Trophy winners 2017.
The crowds and atmosphere in Mexico were something else and of course with the support for their home team sending everyone into a frenzy when they took the win in the final double points race and put together a fairy tale ending for their debut to the ESS. Everyone keeps their fingers crossed that they secure a sponsor that will see them take to the whole of the 2018 circuit and really showcase the talented sailors of Mexico.
The battle for the podium raged on for all 4 days of competition and it wasn't just the temperatures making everyone sweat, but the tricky wind conditions that John Craig and his team dealt with just added to the mix. John and his team did a stunning job with getting it the number of racing they did and all within the tight time scales of live tv.
Alinghi the defending champions set the bar high with 2 days where they nearly had a clean sweep of bullets but again it came down to the wire and the last race before they could celebrate with the Act win but also a little bitter sweet without being able to take the crown of 2018 champions. That would fall to a team that has taken on the ESS for the past 5 years and finally in their 6th year they were crowned champions and highlight how never giving up, learning from your mistakes and always striving for better can see you reach the top. A massive congratulations Jes, Ras, Adam, Mads, Pier Luigi and Rich.
For Phil Robertson and his team on Oman Air, it was a tough fault battle through to the final mark of the final race, where they were unable to claim first spot but they could take second if they defied Alinghi from taking the Act win, but with a late penalty it handed it to the Swiss and with the double points event allowed them also to leapfrog the Omani boat into second place on the podium. Oman Air are one of the most experienced teams within in the ESS and I know will come back firing next year, hungrier than ever to take that championship win.
Being able to commentate on the series again has been a real privilege and one I enjoy immensely. interacting with the crowds, feeding off their reactions, showcasing the talent of the ESS to long term follows of the series and to fresh faces. Mexico cemented why the ESS is one of the best sailing series around, due to the noise from the crowds engaging with the racing, the music and party atmosphere that just elevated the true nature of stadium racing.
My co commentator Patricia did an amazing job at engaging with the locals and made the event a world of fun for myself. The team I am very lucky to work with are simply amazing and bring not only the best information but bundles of banter and fun which makes me enjoy the role even more. The challenges faced by all the OC staff when setting up and running such an event are huge but again and again the team deliver world class events which engage, inspire and promote the amazing sport of sailing. Of course this wouldnt be complete without the sailors and teams that make up the high calibre racing. The personalities and rivalries bring so much entertainment, depth and stunning racing to the ESS and I can't wait to see the the teams that will be on the start line in 2018.
Well as if a Mic-Drop, thats a wrap for the 2017 ESS and what a series it has been. A huge thank you to all, enjoy the well earned rest over Christmas as I have a funny feeling 2018 is going to be a belter.