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In the last world championship of their iconic careers, Austria’s sailing legends Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher led Red Bull Sailing to victory in Villasimius, Sardinia, Italy. The only world championship officially recognized for boat-sized foiling catamarans, which was also Act 3 of the GC32 Racing Tour, saw the Austrian team waging a battle for the ages against two-time America’s Cup winners Alinghi (SUI). The final score was deadlocked in a tie, with a decider based on race placement ultimately putting Red Bull Sailing on top.
Villasimius, Sardinia (ITALY)
– This World Championship was especially meaningful for Hagara, 55, and Steinacher, 53, because 2021 marks their final competitive season. With two Olympic golds and numerous other world, European and national titles to their credit, they are Austria’s most successful summer sport athletes.
– The regatta in Villasimius served up challenges including tricky, fickle winds. But it was the first time since Act 1 that Red Bull had all the members of their seasoned original team on board, and with Hagara back at the helm they came out fighting fit in a field of eight powerful contenders, the largest lineup of the season so far.
– While other teams struggled with the feeble winds of the early races, Red Bull Sailing proved that they deserve their reputation as light-wind specialists. The Austrian boat took second in the only race of Day 1, and then won the opener on Day 2, an intense affair that saw only three points separating the top five boats as the afternoon’s three races concluded.
– On Day 3, the double Olympic champions Hagara and Steinacher, together with teammates Julius Hallström (SWE), Mark Spearman (AUS) and Rhys Mara (AUS), proved that they have what it takes in windy conditions as well. With podiums in all five of the races, including two wins, they were the top-scoring boat of the day and headed into Sunday’s climactic action at the head of the leaderboard.
– Sunday proved to be a nailbiting showdown between Red Bull Sailing and their respected rivals, the defending champions Alinghi. The Swiss had shown uncharacteristic vulnerability in Villasimius but came charging back for a slight lead. A race win by the Austrians kept it close, and everything came down to the final race. There, Red Bull Sailing was able to take advantage of technical problems on Alinghi’s boat, finishing fourth to the Swiss team’s seventh-place result – just enough for the tie in the World Championship points. The decider was placement in the last race, giving Red Bull Sailing the crown, with Alinghi in second and another Swiss boat, Team Tilt, in third.
– The result was the first world title for Hagara and Steinacher since 2004, and the first-ever GC32 World Championship for them, Red Bull Sailing and all of Austria.
– Red Bull Sailing Tactician Hans Peter Steinacher said: “When you know this is your last World Championship, you approach it with something special. You try everything you can find, and yet you’re more relaxed as well. In the end, I think the fact that it’s been quite a long time since our last world title is why we were able to do great, it felt completely different to our other efforts. And also the whole team has been together for three years, so we work very well together. The effort was high from everyone, and now we can celebrate.”
– With only November’s season finale remaining on the calendar, Red Bull Sailing – which finished third in the GC32 Racing Tour in their debut season of 2019 – has moved up to second place in the 2021 standings, three points behind leaders Alinghi and two points ahead of another Swiss contender, third-place Black Star Sailing.
– The GC32 is a 10m long (12m including bowsprit) foiling catamaran, and the tour’s course configurations put an emphasis on allowing the boats to reach maximum speeds. The GC32 Racing Tour calendar includes four regattas in 2021.
– The closing act of the GC32 Racing Tour 2021, and the competitive career finale for Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher, will set sail in Mar Menor, Spain on 3-7 November.
Results, GC32 Racing Tour Act 3 2021/GC32 World Championship, Villasimius, Sardinia, Italy:
1. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 43 points, 2. Alinghi (SUI) 43 pts, 3. Team Tilt (SUI) 50 pts, 4. Black Star Sailing Team (SUI) 51 pts, 5. Team Rockwool Racing (DEN) 58 pts, 6. Zoulou (FRA) 60 pts, 7. Argo (USA) 90 pts, 8. Swiss Foiling Academy (SUI) 109 points.
Overall GC32 Racing Tour standings after three of four acts: 1. Alinghi (SUI) 4 points, 2. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 7 pts, 3. Black Star Sailing Team (SUI) 9 pts, 4. Team Rockwool Racing (DEN) 12 pts. 5. Zoulou (FRA) 13 pts, 6. Swiss Foiling Academy (SUI) 18 points
About Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher
Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher are Austria’s most successful summer sport athletes, having won two Olympic gold medals (Sydney, Athens) and numerous world championships, including the GC32 World Championship in 2021. They are the only Austrians to have competed on the America’s Cup World Series. Determined to see sailing progress to the next level, they groom the next generation of sailors by leading the Red Bull Sailing Team in the GC32 Racing Tour and by serving as sports directors for Red Bull Foiling Generation.
About the GC32 Racing Tour
GC32 course configurations are similar to those used in the America’s Cup, and GC32 boats are capable of reaching speeds of nearly 80 km/h. Venues are chosen with the aim of providing the best chance of optimum conditions to get the catamarans flying on their foils for the maximum amount of time. The 2021 tour consists of four regattas across three venues.
30 June – 4 July: Lagos 1, Portugal
28 July – 1 August: Lagos 2, Portugal
15–19 September: Villasimius, Sardinia, Italy (World Championship)
3–7 November: Mar Menor, Spain