An Extreme 40 is a 40ft long multi-hull catamaran that rockets along at speeds of up to 30 knots (35mph), turns on a sixpence, and is capable of clearing the water by three metres. The perfect vessel for me to enjoy my first ever sailing experience, then.
I was in Cardiff for the sixth leg of the Extreme Sailing Series, a competition that hosts races in tight courses within full view of the coast, making it fantastic for spectators. The Extreme 40s never seem completely under control and I’m told wipeouts are just part of the fun. I’d been invited to join one of the crews on this leg of the race and a small part of me wondered if this was a hidden camera programme. Still, I’m always game for an adrenaline rush…
The series visits eight countries across three continents and while ending up in Cardiff initially seemed like drawing the short straw I soon forgot about it when we first accelerated. The sound I made as we took off is hard to write down as a word but if you picture a cat meowing backwards you’ll have a fairly good idea. While 35mph doesn’t seem that thrilling in a Peugeot 207 it’s a different story when you’re clinging to the nylon mesh of the boat, just a foot or so above the water.
I’m told the capsize angle for an Extreme 40 is 46 degrees and I felt like we were perilously close to that a few times. The wind is king here and the sailors on my team were fighting hard to toe the line between pushing the boat to its limits and ending up swimming in Cardiff Bay. I completely lost track of where we were on the course and I was completely soaked, but, my God was I have a good time.
Clambering back off the boat and onto shore was a strange experience, everything felt so stable. If you get a chance to watch this plucky upstart sailing series make sure you do, it’s not called ‘Extreme’ for nothing.