Range Rover HSE Td6 Meets Land Rover BAR and the Extreme Sailing Series
Land Rover brought me to the Extreme Sailing Series, here is what happened.
Boats, beaches and Land Rovers, oh my! Wait a second, let’s back up a bit and rewind the clock 96 hours. Context is quite important, after all.
I received an email asking if I would like to watch a sailing race. This is a bit curious, as I usually deal with cars, however, when the correspondence has a Jaguar Land Rover stamp on it, it’s bound to be a good time. Within seconds I fired off a reply saying that I was in.
This, as I would come to find out, was no ordinary sailing race. Indeed, it actually all part of an event called the Extreme Sailing Series, an international series of boat racing that is quite unlike anything I (and, likely, you) have ever seen before. Land Rover has been a partner of the series for several years, with the Land Rover BAR team competing in the event. This event was special, as it would be the inaugural event of the race in San Diego. A new venue brings new opportunities and new eyes with which to garner attention.
Shortly after sending out that email from two paragraphs ago, I received a phone call from Land Rover. “We will drop off a Range Rover for you to drive to the event, and have for the weekend.” Perfect. That will make the three hour drive from Los Angeles to San Diego a breeze. 72 hours after that initial email, and one day before the race, a shiny 2017 Range Rover sat outside the JaguarForums office. It was a Td6, which, short of the Sport SVR, is the Range Rover I have been the most excited to drive. A review of the Td6 is coming soon.
And then, it was race day.
The Range Rover HSE Td6 is a great travel companion. Its 3.0L V6 turbo-diesel engine is smooth, and torquey, and the ZF 8-speed transmission is an equally smooth operator. With 440 lb-ft of torque on tap from just 1,750 RPM, it has no issues motivating its 4,700 pounds of mass. While the EPA officially rates it at 22 MPG city and 28 MPG highway, I saw an average fuel economy figure of 32.1 miles-per gallon as I arrived in San Diego. Did I mention that it’s comfortable, too? I arrived in San Diego relaxed and at ease, impressive considering the morning rush hour traffic leaving Los Angeles, and entering San Diego.
Leading up to the race, it became clear that the Extreme Sailing Series offers a lot of accessibility for the fans. Sailors were walking around the grounds, stopping to take pictures and chat with people. Just before the sailors were released into the marina, a press conference was held with the team captains. Rob Bunce (pictured third from the left), Skipper/Bowman for Land Rover BAR represented for his team at this briefing. The conversation was jovial in tone, and not entirely unlike a Formula 1 post-race press conference. Being an international series, the competitors are equally diverse making for a lot of interesting perspectives on the days event, and the sport itself.
SEE ALSO: Land Rover BAR Partnership 2017
Bunce struck me as looking rather young, though, that is a byproduct of the BAR in the Land Rover BAR name. It stands for Ben Ainslie Racing, a sailing academy program that scouts young, talented sailors, and gives them the coaching and resources necessary to advance their careers. These sailors come from a variety of sailing sport backgrounds, and compete in trials for a spot aboard the BAR racing catamaran. The average age aboard the Land Rover BAR vessel is just 23 years old. Except for today, where Sir Ben Ainslie himself would be sailing along with them. Bunce referred to Sir Ainslie as the team’s idol, and that it was an honor to sail alongside him.
After the press meeting, sailors scurried to the marina to tend to their rides. The race was soon to begin. A typically British stoic calm emanated from the GC32 as final preparations were made.
It’s a hardcore piece of engineering. The mast rises 55 feet in the air, and the twin hulls measure 32 feet long. Beneath the body of the GC32 catamaran are two “J-foils” which create lift, allowing the vessel to rise some 8 feet in the air at speed to reduce drag and increase speed. Top speed varies on conditions, but these boats have hit speeds in excess of 39 knots. That’s over 45 mph for you landlubbers. The body is a carbon composite wonder, weighing in at just 2150 pounds. This isn’t your average sail boat.
It was time to race.
After the final preparations were made, team Land Rover BAR shoved off, leaving the marina for the then-calm San Diego waters. The race started and finished in the San Diego harbor, with a series of point to points in between that had to be crossed in order. Marshals sat anchored at the start line and signaled race starts.
As the ocean is always moving, so too are the boats. Dodging contact, especially at race starts, looked tricky with competitors vying for any edge they can get. The races are short, intensive bursts of energetic sailors and shouting. There were 25 of these 30 minute sprints over the course of the weekend. That stopped approximately 0% of the Land Rover BAR team from giving their all on this first day of racing. The first three races resulted in second, first and first place finishes, respectively. The Ben Ainslie magic was working, apparently.
What is the action like?
Watching from the shoreline, the racing looks pretty close. However, it’s when you get on the water, and up close and personal with the action that things get rowdy. When the boats lift up, they lift up, and it’s not always uniformly. Often times one side of the GC32 will lift, resulting in increased speeds, and more work for the sailors. They have to hang on, while still doing their jobs.
Here is a sequence of team Land Rover BAR rounding one of the point markers. The maneuverability required here is huge, especially when you’re sharing space with the competition. Beyond working the sails to optimize wind conditions and straight line speed, the best action is in these corners. Blocking, and outmaneuvering is the name of the Extreme Sailing Series game here.
A slight (figurative) windfall in the back half deflated team Land Rover BARs sails. Race four resulted in a 7th place finish. Race number five saw the team DNF on a technical violation right at the start of the race. The team worked hard to recoup, turning in fifth and first place finishes afterwards for races six and seven, respectively. By the end of the first days races, team Land Rover BAR stood at 3rd place overall.
After a full afternoon of racing, the Extreme Sailing Series called an end to the days festivities. Racing was to resume Saturday, and go on through the rest of the weekend. The event was great fun, even for someone with no sailing experience. I respected the passion behind the sport, because of the parallels between sailing and motor racing, something I am very attached to. Thank you to Land Rover for inviting me and providing the Range Rover Td6 to cruise around in. Seeing as San Diego has signed a multi-year contract with the Extreme Sailing Series, you can expect it to return again next year. Everyone should try to catch one of these races. Check the calendar to see what events are happening near you. It’s worth the trip to experience this world.