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From Track to Tack

Sailing isn’t the obvious excursion when we’re racing at one of the few landlocked countries on the 2018 F1 calendar – but the Team knows its tacking from its wearing, and so today Daniel and Max hooked up with the crews of the Extreme Sailing Series to try their hand at Catamaran racing on beautiful lake Balaton.

Some 130km to the south west of Budapest and the Hungaroring, Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe. As such, the boys were delivered to Balatonfüred Harbour by helicopter, after which they had their briefing and got kitted up before going out to scare the ducks on the famously clear water, surrounded by the steep terraces of Hungarian wine country.

Showing the boys the ropes (quite literally) were double Olympic sailing gold medallists Hans-Peter Steinacher and Roman Hagara, who had X40 and GC32 Catamarans livered with the drivers’ numbers. Daniel crewed with Hans-Peter and Max with Roman, as the boats scudded across the turquoise water, reaching exhilarating speeds of over 27 knots (50kph for you landlubbers).

“I normally like things with an engine but this was very cool,” said Max. ““The boats are really impressive. Once you’re on the water there are a lot of things going on. I learned a lot from Roman and from Hans-Peter. I think I need a few more lessons to be competitive but the first day was a good start!”

With temperatures of more than 30°C, enjoying the breeze in the middle of the lake was definitely the place to be on Wednesday – but that didn’t prevent Daniel jumping in to cool off as the boats returned to the harbour.

“I think we won so I went for a swim and celebrated,” he said. “I think the guys on boat 33 lacked morale and energy. They didn’t have the right personality to win!

“I haven’t done anything like that before. I sailed one or two times at school in little boats, so it was a new experience. The boats are impressive and the Red Bull Extreme Sailing team were cool guys, really helpful. Apparently, we nearly capsized but they made me feel safe, so I didn’t think much of it, but afterwards they said it was close! It was pretty hectic, but we just got given one job at a time. I found myself on the winch most of the time, but I can lift my arms again now, so it’s alright.”

With their sailing gear stowed and the boats lifted out of the water, the drivers headed back to Budapest. They’ll be at the track tomorrow, preparing for the rather more serious business of the Hungarian Grand Prix. If the weather forecast is to be believed, they may be getting just as wet on track as they were on the lake.