Chris Steele's Tawera Racing joins Extreme Sailing Series line-up in Muscat
The seventh challenger for Act 1 of the 2017 Extreme Sailing Series is announced today in the form of New Zealand-flagged Tawera Racing, which will compete as a full season entry.
The team has been formed to give New Zealand's elite youth sailors a launch pad into the cutting-edge world of foiling multihull racing.
With a mix of previous Extreme Sailing Series competitors from the GC32 era and New Zealand's finest fresh-faced youth sailors, this newly-formed squad should throw up a strong challenge to the well-established and seasoned crews it will face as it takes to the water on 8 March.
Co-skipper and helm Chris Steele comes with valuable experience in the Series, having competed last season on board CHINA One and as skipper and helm of Act 8 wildcard team RNZYS Performance Programme on Sydney Harbour.
"We had an awesome time in Sydney," said Steele. "The aim of the event was to try and help develop the New Zealand Youth America's Cup Team and give them some experience in a high-performance circuit.
"It's a young team and we face a challenge but it's great to be able to give New Zealand's sailing stars of tomorrow this opportunity, and hopefully show the big boys what we're capable of.
"Our ambitions for this year are to learn as much as possible. We proved in Sydney that we can be competitive; now we just have to improve that consistency level," added Steele, whose crew is made up of several of the same faces that featured in RNZYS Performance Programme last season.
Despite many of his competitors having a full season under their belts, Steele is not perturbed: "It is an advantage, yes. However, it's a long season and I'm confident we will have the steepest learning curve, and with it the most fun." He added: "The Extreme Sailing Series is like no other. The name says it all. Things happen fast, and the guys on board are under the pump from the minute you leave the dock."
Joining Steele as co-skipper and mainsail trimmer is New Zealander Graeme Sutherland, tactician on board Steele's match racing team, 36 Below Racing, and twice international Youth Match Racing champion.
Irishman Shane Diviney returns to the Series as headsail trimmer, having crewed alongside Steele on both CHINA One and RNZYS Performance Programme and having competed on board wildcard Gazprom Team Russia last season.
The youngest member of the crew is 18-year-old foil trimmer Leonard Takahashi, an accomplished New Zealand/Japanese 49er, Optimist and match racing sailor. Taking turns to work the bow will be Kiwi sailors Josh Salthouse, who crewed on board Steele's winning 2016 New Zealand Match Racing Championship team, and George Anyon, 2016 Nespresso Youth International Match Racing champion.
Tawera Racing will take its place alongside the rest of the fleet for Act 1 from 8-11 March, following the GC32 Championship at the same location, which takes place from 27 February – 5 March. Find out more about the teams competing here.
Tawera Racing crew line-up for Act 1, Muscat
Co-skipper/helm: Chris Steele (NZL)
Co-skipper/mainsail trimmer: Graeme Sutherland (NZL)
Headsail trimmer: Shane Diviney (IRL)
Foil Trimmer: Leonard Takahashi (NZL/JPN)
Bowman: Josh Salthouse (NZL)/George Anyon (NZL)
[Main image: Jesus Renedo/Lloyd Images]