Extreme Sailing Series 2015: Double first for Austria's Olympic champion Roman Hagara

The Marina Bay race track was littered with traps and windless parking spots

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Finishing last in the final race still led to a double first for Austria’s double Olympic gold medallist Roman Hagara as, after five years of trying, he won an Extreme Sailing Series event for the first time in the 40-foot catamaran Red Bull.

The Marina Bay race track was, at the best of times, littered with traps and windless parking spots. It was salutary that, in a decider that counted double points, the last three boats over the line were the top three boats in the 2015 season opener.

Leading Hagara home were the Danish pair of Jes Gram-Hansen and Rasmus Køstner on SAP and the 2012 and 2013 champion Leigh McMillan on The Wave, Muscat. The points difference was five and a further seven in 230 and at one stage in that final nerve-wracking encounter SAP had moved ahead of Red Bull.

“You could say we are feeling a mixture of relief and the hope that we have found a winning formula for the 2015 season,” said Hagara afterwards. “Of course there is a constant search for speed and our sail trimmers have been finding that, but we have made only one change from the 2014 crew line-up and handling the boat around the course can make a big difference. They have been good at that throughout the regatta.” 

Said McMillan: “Hats off to Red Bull and SAP. They have performed really well all weekend. We tried to reel them in but couldn’t catch them. We’ll be fighting for a win our home waters next time out in Oman.”

Added Stevie Morrison, McMillan’s stablemate at Oman Sail, and the new skipper of Oman Air: “We won our last race so we are going home happy. Fifth overall first time out was not too bad and we think it is quite open to think about a top three spot. That is what we are aiming for and we will be trying to put some pressure on the teams ahead of us when we start in Oman.”

Beefy conditions were predicted for the six boats in the Volvo round the world race as they left Sanya on Hainan Island , China, for the 5,250-mile fourth leg to Auckland. Up front again was Chinese entry Dongfeng, skippered and managed by France’s Charles Caudrelier and Bruno Dubois, but also relishing the more traditional ocean racing conditions were Britain’s Ian Walker at the helm of the Abu Dhabi 65-footer and Bouwe Bekking, optimistic that his crew on the Dutch boat Brunel would come into its own.