Friday, July 23, 2010

Hagara joins the fray

Day 2 of the America’s Cup TV trials was meant to feature the two X40 catamarans skippered by Cup veteran Murray Jones and Roman Hagara of Austria, the skipper of the Red Bull Extreme Sailing team and a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the multihull discipline.

The weather gods, however, would have none of it. Or only a little of it.

After 90 minutes on the water, the crews, race officials and TV personnel were forced back to the safety of the Port America’s Cup because of rough conditions.

Last night a northeasterly wind kicked up a short, sharp nasty wave pattern outside the harbor. These were not the conditions that V5 America’s Cup Class boats would have coped with, but the X40s gave it a try anyway. But with the wind blowing 15 to 18 knots, the crash-bang ride, and drenching conditions threatened to damage the expensive television and audio equipment. So time was called on the day’s testing.

“For us, the waves were fun,” said Hagara, 44. “But for the TV guys, it was a little wet.

“The plan was to duplicate yesterday’s session, with a lot of match racing maneuvers, but because of the wind and waves it wasn’t possible with the X40s,” Hagara said.

Hagara (above, right) raced as a tune-up skipper against James Spithill last year in the lead-up to the 33rd America’s Cup. He has been sailing multihulls since he was 14 years old. Besides his gold medals he also has two Tornado world championships to his credit, once as skipper (1999) and once as crew for his brother, Andreas (1987). So it’s hardly surprising the future he’d like to see for the America’s Cup.

“I haven’t match-raced a whole lot, but it’s different, I like it,” said the Austrian. “It can be stressful in close-quarters and mark roundings, you have to make quick decisions. The America’s Cup is the most important regatta for sailing. Hopefully the future is in multihulls.”