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Jordi Xammar, bronze in Tokyo: “My parents never thought that boats would fly at a speed of 100 km/h”

Latest NewsJordi Xammar, bronze in Tokyo: "My parents never thought that boats would fly at a speed of 100 km/h"

Ten nations, ten teams. And ten identical catamarans with speeds up to 100 km/h. This is SailGP, a sailing competition that aims to turn a sport for the elite into a spectacle for the masses. The one million dollar prize is the largest in the world of sailing. Jordi Xammar (Barcelona, ​​28), who won bronze in Tokyo in the 470 class last summer, will be chasing the prey with Nico Rodriguez as captain of the Spanish team. At eleven Grand Prix he will be accompanied by five other Olympic yachtsmen: Florian Trittel (wing trimmer), Diego Botín (flight controller), Joel Rodriguez (grinder), Joan Cardona (tactician and grinder, injured at the beginning of the season) and Paula Barcelo (athlete ). The competition, which begins this weekend in Bermuda, will stop in Spain, in the Bay of Cadiz on September 24 and 25.

Ask. His father is Pere Xammar, Spanish champion in the 250cc class. What happened to the son of a motorcycle racer who became a sailor?

Answer. My father was a motorcycle racer and teammate of Sito Pons, in fact the two families spent many years in the Balearic Islands, Ibiza and Menorca. And it was Sito who taught me to swim. He is like a godfather to me. I grew up with my children, also pilots, Axel and Edgar. We spent the day racing. My parents liked the world of sports, but they did not want me to devote myself to motorcycles. Because of the risks. His friend opened a sailing school and they enrolled me. Of course, at that time they had no idea that they would put wings on the boats and, as a result, they would fly at a speed of more than 100 km / h.

P. The sea is not round the world, but it has its dangers. A few days ago, a young Tunisian sailor died naked after falling. How do they manage risk?

R. In our sport, we are not used to such accidents. Just a couple of years we have been dealing with ships that fly and have incredible speed. And this is something extremely new for both sailing and sailors. There is a risk, but you try not to think too much about it.

P. What are the security measures for competitions?

R. In SailGP we are tied to the boat so we don’t fall off. At these speeds, the fins are like knives and the fall will be very dangerous. At the same time, the very fact of attachment carries the danger that if the boat capsizes, you will fall into the water and you will not have much freedom of movement. That’s why we carry a small oxygen tank built into our vest that gives us a minute of air. This is the time that, in theory, needs to be unleashed. In addition, there are lifeboats that chase boats in competition; On board is a group of divers armed with oxygen and ready to jump into the water and go to the rescue. All the logistics that we are not used to in our sport, but which is necessary.

P. Do all team members have scuba diving skills?

R. We have them. SailGP provides a safety briefing before boarding the boat. Rescue divers take you underwater, manipulate and test you for half an hour until they are sure you are comfortable in the circumstances. It is clear that later, when the real situation occurs, everything is completely different. But the advice we receive is very helpful to be able to respond correctly in those first moments.

P. What is it like to roll over on a catamaran that is 18 meters long and weighs three tons?

R. This is very shocking. You are not in control of the situation. And you are at the mercy of what can happen. You are trying to hold the ship, but with a strong impact it is impossible. So you are trying to protect yourself. On windy days, when we put on a wetsuit, this sense of danger is already felt: we are all very aware of what can happen, but also that we are fulfilling a dream. We’re still lucky.

Spanish GP sailboatSimon Bruty for SailGP (Simon Bruty for SailGP)

P. This is no longer a promise. After Tokyo, he admitted that the pressure, knowing he had medal options, was heavy. How do you feel about the start of SailGP, how much pressure is there?

R. Now, in this competition, we are the youngest and least experienced team to date. We are outsiders, no one expects anything from us. Nobody expects good results from us. These are very complex boats. But in San Francisco, when we made our team debut a few months ago, we had already finished two races on the podium. Now let’s go after everyone.

P. What big problems do they face?

R. Inexperience compared to our rivals, who are ten years ahead of us, is a hindrance. But we are aware of our potential. The whole team feels that after San Francisco we are doing well, that we are not so far away. We have to understand what we need to achieve in this third season of the competition in order to do something great with the Spanish team.

P. Why and how does this competition want to make sailing more popular?

R. One of the slogans of SailGP speaks of rethinking sailing. That is exactly what they did. Sailing is no longer just a few boats that sail at a speed of 20 or 50 km/h. These are catamarans with two hulls, which received wings and easily reach speeds of up to 100 km/h. It is sailing, but it has nothing to do with what we have known so far. SailGP has really succeeded in making sailing very attractive. We athletes are lucky to be able to see this revolution and redefine our sport from the first person perspective. It’s amazing, now you come to Madrid and people talk to you about catamarans that fly. This was unthinkable three or four years ago.

P. In SailGP we speak in km/h. Are you up there doing it in kilometers or in knots?

R. We are talking in kilometers. We changed the chip. It was hard at first, but you get used to it with time. For me, this is a success. This allows us to explain how we feel. When people ask me what it’s like to ride one of these boats, I tell people: when you’re driving down the highway at 100 km/h, stick your head out the window on a rainy day and you’ll see it without good glasses. you won’t see anything

P. Will this competition be the opposite of the America’s Cup? Here the best boat does not win because they are all the same.

R. What happens in this type of competition like the America’s Cup or Formula One is that the material, boats or vehicles in this case are not the same for everyone and this condition ends up having a big effect on the race. SailGP wants equality to be as high as possible. And that is why all boats are the same. Thanks to this, they force almost all of us to reach the buoys at the same time; equality and emotion are maximized.

P. The inclusion of at least one woman in each of the participating teams is mandatory. Why is this quota still necessary to guarantee the presence of women?

R. Including women on any team is something we need to improve as a society as a whole. What SailGP does with this commitment is empower female athletes. For us, Paula was key. This is a very difficult ship; You must be very careful not to collide with other boats. I only concentrate on driving the boat, and Paula is my eyes and my connection to the outside world. I completely trust her. While she drives, I focus on maintaining speed. Unlike other skippers who take care of everything, we have a competitive edge.

P. You insist on how difficult it is to steer this boat, why?

R. Since this is a boat that flies over water, the keels go to the limit, and if they come off and lose contact with the water, the catamaran capsizes. These catamarans go to the limit. The controllers have to watch the keels down to the millimeter so that they go as high as possible, so that friction and drag are minimal, but without leaving the sea. As they say in English: the higher, the faster (the higher, the faster), but also more dangerous.

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