Ten nations, ten teams.
And ten identical catamarans that reach 100 km/h.
That is SailGP, a sailing competition that aims to turn a sport for the elite into a spectacle for the masses.
The prize, one million dollars, is the largest in the world of sailing.
Jordi Xammar (Barcelona, 28 years old), bronze in Tokyo last summer in the 470 class, together with Nico Rodríguez, will chase that loot as captain of the Spanish team.
He will be accompanied for eleven Grands Prix by five other Olympic sailors: Florian Trittel ( wing
), Diego Botín (flight controller), Joel Rodríguez (
), Joan Cardona (tactician and
, injured at the start of the season) and Paula Barceló (athlete).
The competition, which begins this weekend in Bermuda, will stop in Spain, in the Bay of Cádiz, on September 24 and 25.
His father is Pere Xammar, Spanish 250cc champion.
How does the son of a motorcycle racer turned sailor end up?
My father was a motorcycle rider and teammate of Sito Pons, in fact, the two families have spent many summers in the Balearic Islands, in Ibiza and Menorca.
And it was Sito who taught me how to swim.
He is like a godfather to me.
I have grown up with his children, also pilots, Axel and Edgar.
We spent the day racing.
My parents liked the world of sports, but they didn't want me to dedicate myself to motorcycles.
Because of the risks.
A friend of his opened a sailing school and they signed me up.
Of course, they did not imagine then that they would put wings on the boats and end up flying at more than 100 km/h.
The sea is not a circuit, but it has its dangers.
A few days ago a young Tunisian sailor died, exposed after a fall.
How do they deal with risk?
In our sport we are not used to accidents of this type happening.
It's only been a couple of years that we've been dealing with ships that fly and have incredible speeds.
And that is something extremely new for both sailing and sailors.
The risk is there, but you try not to think too much about it.
How are the security measures in competition?
In SailGP we are tied on top of the boat, so that we cannot fall.
At those speeds the fins are like knives and a fall would be super dangerous.
At the same time, the fact of being tied up has the danger that if the boat capsizes you fall into the water and you do not have much freedom of movement.
That is why we carry a small oxygen bottle with us, integrated into the vest, which gives us a minute of air.
That is the time that, in theory, you need to untie.
In addition, there are rescue boats that chase the boats in competition;
On board is a team of divers, armed with more oxygen and ready to jump into the water and proceed to the rescue.
All logistics that we are not used to in our sport, but that is necessary.
Do all team members have scuba diving skills?
We have them.
Before boarding the boat, SailGP schedules some safety training.
Salvage divers take you underwater, manipulate and test you for half an hour until they make sure you feel comfortable under the circumstances.
It is clear that later, when a real situation occurs, everything is very different.
But the advice we receive is very useful to be able to react correctly in those first moments.
What is it like to capsize with a catamaran that is 18 meters long and weighs three tons?
It is very impressive.
You have no control of the situation.
And you are at the mercy of what may happen.
You try to hold on to the ship, but when the impact is strong it is impossible.
So you try to protect yourself.
On windy days, when we are putting on the wetsuit, that feeling of danger is already perceived: we are all very aware of what can happen, but also that we are fulfilling a dream.
We are still lucky.
The Spanish Sail GPSimon Bruty for SailGP (Simon Bruty for SailGP)
It is no longer a promise.
After Tokyo she confessed that the pressure, knowing that she had medal options, weighed heavily.
How do you face the start of this SailGP, how heavy is the pressure here?
Now, in this competition, we are the youngest and least experienced team, by far.
, nobody expects anything from us.
No one expects us to do well.
They are very difficult boats.
But, in San Francisco, in our debut as a team a few months ago, we already finished two races on the podium.
Now we go for all.
What are the great challenges they face?
The inexperience compared to our rivals, who are ten years ahead of us, is a handicap.
But we are aware of our potential.
The whole team has the feeling after San Francisco that we can do well, that we are not that far away.
We must understand what we need to achieve in this third season of the competition to do something great with the Spanish team.
Why and how does this competition want to make sailing a more popular sport?
One of the SailGP slogans talks about redefining sailing.
And that is precisely what they have done.
Sailing is no longer just a few boats that sail at 20 or 50 km/h.
These are catamarans, with two hulls, which have been given wings and easily reach 100 km/h.
It is sailing, but it has nothing to do with what we knew until now.
SailGP has really managed to make sailing a very attractive sport.
As athletes we are fortunate to be able to experience this revolution and redefinition of our sport in the first person.
It's amazing, now you go to Madrid and people talk to you about the catamarans that fly.
That three or four years ago was unthinkable.
In the SailGP they speak in km/h.
Do you, up there, do it in kilometers or in knots?
We speak in kilometers.
We have changed the chip.
It was hard at first, but eventually you get used to it.
For me, it is a success.
It allows us to explain how we feel.
When they ask me what it feels like to ride on one of these boats, I tell people: when you go 100 km/h on the highway, stick your head out the window on a rainy day and you'll see that without good glasses you won't you see nothing
Would this competition be the opposite of the Copa del América?
Here the best boat does not win, because they are all the same.
What happens in this type of competition, such as the America's Cup or Formula 1, is that since the material, the boats or the vehicles, in this case, are not the same for everyone, that condition ends up greatly marking the race.
SailGP wants equality to be maximum.
And that's why all the boats are identical.
With that they get almost all of us to reach the buoys at the same time;
equality and emotion is maximum.
The inclusion of at least one woman in each of the participating teams is mandatory.
Why is this quota still necessary to guarantee the presence of women?
The inclusion of women in any team is something that we have to improve as a society in general.
What SailGP does with this obligation is to give opportunity to female athletes.
For us, Paula has been key.
This is a very difficult ship to steer;
you have to be very careful not to collide with other boats.
I only concentrate on running the boat and Paula is my eyes and my connection with the outside world.
I have full confidence in her.
As she steers, I focus on maintaining speed.
, who take care of everything, we have that competitive advantage.
You insist on how difficult it is to navigate this boat, why?
Because it is a boat that flies above the water, the keels go to the limit, and if they come off and lose contact with the water, the catamaran capsizes.
These catamarans go to the limit.
The controllers must observe the keels to the millimeter so that they go as high as possible, that friction and resistance are minimal, but without leaving the sea.
As they say in English:
the higher, the faster
(the higher, the faster), but also more dangerous.
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