GAC Pindar is the sponsor of Team Australia's Extreme Series campaign. They also sponsor Team Raleigh, currently the leading cycling team in the British Premier series. So it made sense to bring both teams together at Extreme Series Cardiff to generate a bit of extra coverage.
The promotional gurus came up with a cyclosail event. Five sailing teams – GAC Pindar, Groupama, Gazprom, Ben Ainslie Racing and Realteam – were each allocated a cyclist and a member of the media. The event called for a series of two short races on the boat, followed by a 16km cycle around the streets of Cardiff. Fortunately for Ben Ainslie Racing, who drew this scribe as their media team member, only the first two cyclists counted.
While talking with Yanto Barker, the current leader of the British road series, we established a number of similarities between the two sports. Yanto explained how knowledge of wind angles is essential in road cycling, as the sprinters try to use as little energy as possible during the mid-stages. They will tuck in behind their teammates as the whole peleton basically moves like the tide, with riders peeling off the front and drifting back down either side.
Yanto was also interested to hear that consistency is the key to winning a sailing series. He said he doesn't need to win any of the nine events in the Premier series – a consistent finish near the front is sufficient.
He has never sailed before, and I asked if he was nervous about getting on the back of a 40ft catamaran. When he explained that he rides down wet mountain roads at close to 100km an hour, I realised it was a stupid question.
The wind picked up to around 20 knots for the racing, which saw some close encounters at the turning marks. As “passenger” on Ben Ainslie Racing I was privileged to watch the master push his 40ft catamaran through a tiny gap that GAC Pindar skipper, Nathan Wilmot, had left.
But it was the Aussies who had the last laugh. Finishing third in the sailing segment, they won the overall event by a point after Yanto Barker and Hugh Styles won the cycling.
As a portent for the real racing tomorrow it probably means very little. But it was a fun way to spend the day.
– Roger McMillan in Cardiff