When the Extreme Sailing Series gets underway on Sydney Harbour tomorrow, there will be happy memories for three of the high-profile competitors.
Roman Hagara and Hans Pieter Steinacher (Red Bull) won Olympic gold medals in the Tornado class at Sydney 2000 and this is the first time since then that they have sailed in Australia.
Glaring at them across the start line will be the most successful Olympian ever, Sir Ben Ainslie (JP Morgan BAR), who famously sailed his Brazilian rival Robert Scheidt off the course to win Laser gold in 2000.
Ironically, it was that act by Ainslie that launched the sailing career of another of the Extreme 40 skippers competing here in Sydney. At 15 years of age, Tom Slingsby sat on Bradleys Head watching the one-on-one battle and decided then and there to give up a promising tennis career and concentrate on sailing. He went on to win Olympic gold at London 2012 and with Ainslie is one of only nine men ever to have an Olympic gold and an America's Cup win on his CV.
The fast, exciting Extreme 40s will sail from 2pm each day from Friday until Sunday. The action will be close to the shoreline with excellent viewing from Mrs Macquarie's Chair and the Opera House. Spectator boats are also plying for trade and will be anchored right on the perimeter of the course.
For more information, go to http://www.extremesailingseries.com.