Fast paced, tense, and adrenaline-packed excitement — this is the Extreme Sailing Series 2018!
From a young childhood growing up on boats and learning to sail with my father, I have always loved the ocean! It’s been many years since I raced or attempted anything on the ocean other than a leisurely cruise. So, what better way to shake it up than join in the Extreme Sailing Series?!
What is the ‘Extreme Sailing Series‘ I hear you cry! In simple terms, to the non-nautical reader, it is a worldwide sailing competition where sailing teams compete over 10 months touring the globe across three continents & in 8 amazing locations. Representing the ub-cool team, I was invited along to attend Act 1 in Muscat, Oman, by the lovely people at Red Bull Oman.
The Red Bull ESS line up 2018. | Photo Credit: Dean Treml, Red Bull content pool.
“To mark its tenth year in 2016 the Extreme Sailing Series™ introduced a new weapon of choice, the hydro-foiling GC32 catamaran. Smaller, faster than the Extreme 40, and considerably more challenging for the crew, this cutting edge design gave the Series’ signature Stadium Racing format a complete revamp.
The magic of this ultra-light, responsive hydro-foiling catamaran lies in its unique J-foils which work much like an airplane wing to lift the hulls out of the water, reducing drag and rapidly increasing speed. This makes for a magnificent spectacle for the crowds watching on shore and a physical balancing act for the crews who have to work hard trimming the sails to keep their boat in the air.
The GC32 is capable of reaching speeds of up to 39 knots. If you want an idea of what that feels like, it is like putting your head out of the window in a car when it is raining at 45mph (72kph).” – Extreme Sailing Series
Stepping off from dry land there was no backing out now on this EXTREME activity. I was swiftly collected by the Red Bull rib, a small and lightweight single hull boat capable of high speeds, acting as a water taxi to transport me to the main sailing vessel.
As I stepped onboard the rib my eyes had to do a double take! The man at the helm was none other than Roman Hagara – A double Olympian, World class sailor and the Captain of the Red Bull sailing team and one of my sailing idols! A little star-struck that Roman Hagara was driving ME to HIS boat I couldn’t say anything, I just smiled – This was seriously COOL! In under a minute we had arrived alongside the beautiful GC32 catamaran – a stunning 32 foot double hulled racing craft built for speed.
Transferring from the rib to the main vessel, Roman Hagara in the background
Leaping on to the main vessel I was met by Scottish sailor Neil Hunter, who assisted me to step over the complex, yet organised, rope system and settle into my position as ‘6th man’ onboard.
Neil instructed me on exactly what to do: sit with your legs crossed & arms close to your body, don’t move and don’t get in the way of anyone. Basically, hold on tight as this was going to be a bumpy ride! My designated area to stay inside was approximately 2 feet x 2 feet. Thankfully my younger years of sailing had prepared me somewhat for what was to come; guys bounding over top of me, the loud noises of the sails overhead, the lingo, and what must be terrifying for some is the angle that these beauties can achieve with one hull out of the water tipped over.
Safely in my zone the team brief before the next race begins
Once I was onboard and I knew my safety instructions, the 5-strong sailing team went back to business preparing, getting the vessel in position, and loudly counting down the minutes until their next race began. With every boat on the water out to win the much desired points, the countdown is important. Substantial penalties are handed out to the boats who jump the gun. You can feel the tension in the air.
As the final few seconds ticked by and the klaxon sounded, the race began and I curled my hands around the ropes and held on tight in anticipation and fear. The course was mapped out and the crews briefed as the boats raced towards the coloured buoys pulling their best manoeuvres to outsmart each other. As we swung another calculated manoeuvre and changed tack, the sea water splashed up over the hull and directly into the faces of the sailors; not phased at all by this they proceeded on changing positions, adjusting sails, and using their body weight to balance the boat.
Out of the water! | Image Source: RedBull
Out on the water there is a boat for the official umpire, just like a football referee. They keep the race fair and are ready to dish out punishments to any team who doesn’t play fair. As we came close to the Land Rover Bar vessel the tension mounted and the teams shouted to each other to change course. Just as I braced myself for impact we shifted course at the last second to avoid a collision.
Our boat passes dangerously close to the Land Rover BAR boat
“PREPARE TO JIBE!” shouts one of the crew members. Forearms pumped, ropes frantically being pulled, the slack running off, the sails above head move dramatically as the wind catches, the crew shout commands to each other – This is action-packed fun!
Each team member is required to be incredibly physically fit to be a functional part of this team and it is easy to see why. Keeping a vessel like this flying at such speeds is no easy task.
The crew are constantly moving, shifting position, using their body weight to counter balance the boat. And, sometimes, just hanging on by their feet and leaning their upper body out over the side of the boat and pulling themselves back up — this all requires incredible core strength!
Hard at work on board
The 5-man sailing team all have their roles, positions, instructions, and responsibilities aboard the boat. When you hear them communicate, you will be amazed. It is an incredible example of great teamwork and clear instruction speaking to their excellent ability to communicate. A weak link here could cause disaster! Want to know more about the Red Bull team 2018 – Click here!
Sadly we didn’t win the race whilst I was on board but I have every faith in the team as they travel on to Act 2 in Italy to continue the fight to be ESS champions of 2018.
My time spent out on the water may just have sparked something in me, I think I need to take up sailing lessons and follow that passion again!
Feature image source: Red Bull Oman website.
Dear Explorer, The world is your oyster! You’ve heard that one before, eh? Well, it definitely is our motto at ub-cool. We are conquering the world one country at a time with our flag! The world is truly a small place now that we have the ease of air transport. Long gone are the days of sailing weeks across the rough-gut-wrenching seas, watching your suitcases (or, trunks!) slide across the room and almost squash your legs, just to get from one continent to another. Now, you can do that in 12 hours or less. Where in the World is the ub-cool Flag? Come along with us on our journey as the ub-cool team and friends carry our flag across the globe. We will update this page with new additions from the coolest places on Earth! If you want to be part of the journey, email us for a copy of our flag and then submit your photo and we will add it here! Spread the word and check back to see all the new cool places we have been! Turkey September 2018: Balloons in Cappadocia! Exploring the “fairy chimney” rock formations in Turkey, brought along the ub-cool flag for the stunning sights! Ukraine August 2018: Cycling through the Carpathian Mountains Cycling enthusiasts, Kate Pakhomov and Fimm, carried the ub-cool flag through Ukraine! South Africa July 2018: Fun at Lion & Safari Park Devan Kupferman and Laura Symmonds watching lion cubs playing with the ub-cool flag! Arctic Circle June 2018: The Ultimate North! The ub-cool flag reached the Arctic Circle in our founder Medina Ilyassova’s backpack! Kenya June 2018: Hiking in Kwale County! Zarian Sohrab hiked with the ub-cool flag to find some spectacular views! Oman May 2018: Waters around Muscat 10 meters deep in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Muscat, Oman, these passionate freedivers pose with the ub-cool flag! From left to right: Yousuf Al Mukaini, Sele Al Mabsali, and Omar Al Ghailani. Scotland May 2018: Dunottar Castle The ub-cool flag made its way to North East Scotland with our Adventure Girl, Heather Duncan! Ireland May 2018: Southern Irish Coast Our Adventure Girl, Heather Duncan, high above the beautiful cliffs of Ballycotton in County Cork. Nepal April 2018: Mount Everest Base Camp After 7 days of hiking, our Adventure Girl, Heather Duncan, reached Everest Base Camp! Along for the journey was her friend and Jonathan Shubert, ub-cool Explorer and world-record endurance cyclist. Read more about Heather’s journey to Mount Everest Base camp here. Peru April 2018: Machu Picchu The iconic peak of Peru’s famous mountains rise behind ub-cool friend, Hussein Sajwani. He made the gruelling journey to the peak by the most difficult route… Then he made his way to Vinicuna, the Rainbow Mountain, to handstand in the Andes Mountain range. Georgia April 2018: Caucasus Mountains Enjoying her first visit to the beautiful country of Georgia, Medina Ilyassova returned with memories of paragliding over the stunning scenery, exploring castles, and dining on delicious cuisine. If you’re planning a trip to Georgia, discover awesome Georgia tours here. Hawaii April 2018: Koko Crater After a steep climb ub-cool friend, Anshul Bhatnagar, enjoys the view of a cloudy Honolulu! Kazakhstan September 2017 ub-cool’s Medina Ilyassova hangs out in the mountains with family and friends. There is nothing better than fresh mountain air! Bulgaria September 2017 ub-cool friend, Hussein Sajwani, making his way through Bulgaria with the our flag in tow! Tanzania May 2017: Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano – “Mountain of God” Perched at the top of this active volcano, seen as the “Mountain of God” by the Maasai community, our ub-cool founder, Medina Ilyassova, waves our flag with exciting at her accomplishment. The climb was intense to say the least. Imagine climbing at an incline of more than 70 degrees! Not to mention, starting earlier in the dark with headlights to avoid roasting under the African sun! Read about Medina’s climb up Ol Doniyo Lengai Volcano here. Last Updated: 21st May 2018 Watch this space for regular updates! Email us for a copy of our flag and we’ll add your submission to this post!
Dear Explorer, We have searched the web looking for the best photos of the web from the month of April 2018 to inspire you to say ‘WOW‘, get outdoors & lead an active life! 10 Best Photos of the Web Here are our Top 10 pics for this month’s photo competition: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | Instagram: @alexgoldman The mysteries of Hawaii | Instagram: @kelsealoha The iconic Golden Gate bridge, San Francisco | Instagram: @shangerdanger Turkey is now on our bucket list! Oludeniz Beach | Instagram: @buraktuzer The feeling of freedom! Los Glaciaras, Andes | Instagram: @vagabondhearts Everybody stay calm | @jferrara_photo Travelling in style in Guam, West Pacific | Instagram: @matecasar Serenity at sunset. Inle Lake, Myanmar | Instagram: @vincelimphoto White Sands Monument in New Mexico | Instagram: @everchanginghorizon And happily ever after! | Instagram @nois7 Did you miss the best photos from March’s photo competition? It’s not too late to check them out. Do you want to submit your photos for May’s photo competition? You can email us or tag us on Facebook or Instagram and remember to use the hashtag #ubcoolphotocomp Liked what you read? Subscribe below and receive more great stories right in your Inbox!
Dear Explorer, Counting down the days till your vacation but haven’t settled on a destination? Why don’t you set your eyes on Georgia? (The country in Europe, not the State in the United States!). This country has captured the hearts of many with its warm welcoming nature and generous people. It definitely has the ub-cool team completely in love! Some of our team really enjoy adrenaline-filled adventures like paragliding and white-water rafting, which Georgia has so much of to offer! But, others on the team prefer staying close to the ground – in fact, they prefer their feet firmly fixed to Mother Earth! So, we figured some of you – our lovely readers – may also feel the same and want to check out awesome adventures that keep you as close to the ground as possible. Below are a list of Georgia tours we love that allow you to explore this beautiful country from the comfort of a vehicle. Oh, and don’t forget these Georgia tours are also perfect to enjoy with the family! Related: 4 Best Sky-and-Water Adventures in Georgia 4 Best Georgia Tours on Wheels Recently emerging from decades of Soviet rule, Georgia re-opened its doors to the world in 1991. Since then, there has been a massive building project of hotels and resorts not to mention the increase in the number of flights to this small country. The Caucasus mountains are a sight to be seen – they stand tall with snow-capped peaks against gorgeous rolling-green valleys dotted with small towns. If you’re keen to explore the beautiful countryside and views from the hills all the while keeping your feet close to the ground, we have 4 different options for you from quad bikes to NASCAR-style cars! #1 – Experience the Caucasus Mountains and Castles on this Fun Jeep Tour Jump in for this fantastic jeep tour! The local experts will take you through the Dzama gorge, which is hidden between the valleys of the Borjomi forests and Kartli. Georgians consider this a sacred place as you’ll see by the many old-and-new monasteries in the area. You’ll also visit the gorgeous Bateti lake which sits on a mountain plateau surrounded by forest and a beautiful swamp. Whatever season it is when you visit, make sure you bring your camera because the scenic views will blow your mind! Oh, and we shouldn’t forget to mention the delicious barbeque picnic and red wine tasting you’ll enjoy! Learn more about this Fun Jeep Tour in Georgia > #2 – Explore Georgia on an Amazing Quad Bike Tour Want to explore the rolling green Georgian hills with your friends? Then hop on your very own quad bike and speed away! Imagine spending 2 hours exploring Mitarbi mountain, Bakuriani traditional villages, and rice fields! Then, after lunch, you’ll get the chance to taste the famous Borjomi mineral water in the national park! For those wondering – yes, the quad bike is really easy to handle making for a truly enjoyable journey. And, if you’re looking for fresh air, then this is the trip for you! Learn more about this quad bike tour in Georgia > #3 – An Exciting NASCAR-Style Car Ride in Georgia Do you love watching car races? Well, when in Gerogia, why don’t you give it a try! Strap on your seat belt and take this first-generation NASCAR car, The Legends, down the track for a spin! This modern vehicle is in the retro style fitted with a Yamaha 1300cc, 145 horsepower engine. What does this mean? Yes – You’ll go from 0 to 100km in 4.2 seconds! Fact: before NASCAR, this vehicle was a popular get-away car for the mafia! Learn more about racing NASCAR-style cars in Georgia > #4 – Adrenaline-Packed Off-Roading Drive Through Georgia Calling adrenaline seekers, this rafting trip in Georgia is perfect for you! Hang on tight for an exhilarating rafting trip down fast-moving waters! If you’re new to rafting, learn to raft from local experts and set off on an adventure of a life time. The waters in Georgia’s rivers are ideal for white-water rafting enthusiasts. Do you live for adrenaline-filled adventures? Then this off-roading tour is for you! Race through Georgia’s rugged terrain in the best off-roading vehicle, Polaris RZR. This high-quality AT vehicle will have you perched atop hills in no time! Learn more about off-roading drives in Georgia > Looking for other adventures? Visit ub-cool for more exciting adventures from all around the world! Working with local experts, the ub-cool team seeks out the best adventures for you to try! Liked what you read? Subscribe below to get more adventure tips right in your inbox!
Dear Explorer, “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again” – this is definitely the case for 69-year-old mountain climber Xia Boyu who successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, this week. Xia Boyu On Monday, the 14th of May, Xia Boyu achieved his goal on his fifth attempt of conquering the iconic mountain spanning over 4 decades of attempts. You’ll be shocked to learn that it is not his mature age of 69 that sets Xia apart from the other 500 climbers attempting Everest this year… but also that he is a double amputee! Photo Credit: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images First Attempt Led to Double Amputation Xia, now 69 years old, first tried to scale the 8,848m peak back in 1975. Only a tantalising 200m from the peak of the world, the climbers were heart broken as they were forced to turn back due to high-altitude storms. They were descending in treacherous conditions when Xia, then aged 26, gave up his sleeping bag to a fellow climber who was struggling, according to Chinese media. The severe weather took its toll on him and he discovered the next morning that he had frostbite in his feet, requiring both to be amputated. “It’s not been easy for me to reach the peak of Mount Everest which I’ve dreamed of,” he was quoted by the Peoples Daily. Related: Learn how Shaikha Al Shaiba takes on triathlons with only one arm! Time Line of Xia’s Climbing Dream 1975 – At age 26, Xiya made his initial attempt at Mount Everest but suffered frostbitten feet which required amputation. 1996 – Using prosthetic limbs he climbed mountains around Beijing but tragedy struck when he learnt he had contracted lymphoma and would need both legs amputated beneath the knee. 2014 – Xia was ready to tackle Everest again, but his attempt was not possible due to ice avalanches. 2015 – Having reached Base Camp, his next attempt was delayed due to the disastrous Nepal earthquake of 2015. 2016 – He attempted the climb again; but, within 100m of the peak, he had to turn back due to poor weather. 2017 – His planned attempt for 2018 was nearly derailed by the Nepal government, which in December banned double amputees and blind people from climbing Everest. It was claimed that it would make the mountain safer. 2018 – The Nepal Supreme Court finally ruled that the ban was discriminatory and it was dropped in March 2018. 2018, May – SUCCESS! Photo Credit: Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters In April 2018, a month before his fifth attempt, Xia told Agence France-Presse that climbing Everest was his dream. “I have to realise it,” he said. “It also represents a personal challenge, a challenge of fate.” On Monday 14th May, Xia finally reached the peak of Mount Everest. “Boyu finally won his 40-year-long battle for Mount Everest,” Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, the managing director at Imagine Treks, who accompanied the Chinese climber, told the Himalayan Times. Other Aamputees who have climbed Everest? Xia is the second double amputee to climb the summit after the New Zealander, Mark Inglis, who reached the peak from the Tibetan side in 2006. Santiago Quintero, who had half of each foot amputated during a climb in south America, also reached the peak in 2013. Congratulations Xia Boyu! Your determination and perseverance are an inspiration to us all! Feature photo: rockandice.com / courtesy of Xia Boyu Do you have a cool story to share with us? Get in touch at email@example.com