Adam Minoprio boosts SAP Extreme Sailing Team line-up for 2017 Extreme Sailing Series season
SAP Extreme Sailing Team has announced its return to the Extreme Sailing Series ahead of the season opener in Muscat, which takes place in less than a month's time.
In preparation for what will be its sixth season in the world's leading Stadium Racing Series, the team has undergone a major reshuffle in its crew line-up.
Although the Danish-duo of Køstner and Jes Gram-Hansen will remain co-skippers, SAP Extreme Sailing Team will be joined by the former World Match Racing Champion, Adam Minoprio of New Zealand, who will take turns with Gram-Hansen on the helm throughout the season.
The Danish-flagged team is the second to announce its entry into the 2017 season behind Swiss team Alinghi. The Danes finished the 2016 season in fourth place overall but they are setting their sights higher for this year.
"Our results in 2016 were a bit mixed. Overall, we lacked consistency through the different conditions we experienced. We want to be back on the podium for 2017 and challenge the best teams," said Rasmus Køstner, co-skipper of the team, which took second overall in the 2015 season.
Co-skipper Gram-Hansen commented on a radical change which means he will not be on board for some of the races for the first time since the team made its debut in the Extreme Sailing Series in 2012: "It is our ambition to constantly explore ways to improve our team's performance. Blending our experience with Adam's will improve our understanding of how to get the best out of the GC32. I have known Adam for many years and there is no question of his talent," he said.
"Of course my decision is not easy as I have a big passion for racing, but most important to me is the desire to make SAP Extreme Sailing Team one of the best sailing teams in the world.
"When Adam is helming the boat I will be in the coach boat acting as an extra set of eyes and using the SAP Sailing Analytics to support what we are doing. For me it is also a great opportunity to take a step back and learn from watching the other teams," added Gram-Hansen.
No stranger to the GC32 or to the Extreme Sailing Series, Minoprio previously helmed a GC32 as skipper of wildcard team NORAUTO in Act 7 of the 2016 season, coming fresh from a victory in the GC32 Racing Tour in Spain.
"I think I will fit in just fine. The team is full of great sailors who are very professional and we all share the same desire to win," commented Minoprio, who will also compete on board Groupama Team France in the America's Cup this summer.
Another new addition to the team for this season is British sailor Richard Mason, an experienced 470 and F18 sailor who also competed in the 2014 Solitaire du Figaro.
"Mason has impressed us with his understanding of the GC32 set up and his competitive mindset – with Mason and Minoprio on board we are sure to be off to a good start in Oman," commented Køstner, who takes on the role of mainsheet trimmer in addition to tactician this year.
Headsail trimmer Pierluigi de Felice of Italy will temporarily be replaced by French multihull specialist Hervé Cunningham for the first Act. Cunningham previously competed for SAP Extreme Sailing Team in the 2015 Extreme Sailing Series.
The new-look Danish team will join the fleet as the season kicks off from 8 - 11 March in Muscat, Oman. Act 1 of the 2017 Extreme Sailing Series will be preceded by the GC32 Championships in Muscat, in which the team will also compete, from 27 February – 5 March.
SAP Extreme Sailing Team crew line-up for Muscat
Co-skipper, tactician & mainsheet trimmer: Rasmus Køstner (DEN)
Co-skipper & coach: Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN)
Helm: Adam Minoprio (NZL)
Headsail trimmer: Hervé Cunningham (FRA)
Bowman: Richard Mason (GBR)
Floater: Mads Emil Stephensen (DEN)