The 2015 M32 Scandinavian Series has seen the biggest changes since it began in 2013, with strong growth in both the size of the fleet and the worldwide interest in M32 racing.
Both previous champions of the Scandinavian Series, Mattias Rahm (Rahm Racing) and Hans Wallén (Wallén Racing Team) started the season slowly, neither making the podium of the Battle of Oslo.
While the veterans struggled, two young guns came roaring on the scene: 26-year old ex-World Match Racing Tour champion Taylor Canfield (US-One) dominated the early season with easy wins in both Oslo and Gothenburg, while Swedish youth and dinghy sailing standout Nicklas Dackhammar (Essiq Racing) started the season with a bang in more ways than one.
His team was frequently the only challenger to US-One’s crisp boat handling and outright speed, and Essiq scored a second place in the first two events, despite a massive impact with a navigational buoy that reduced the front beam of his M32 to carbon splinters.
The collision seemed to break the will of the Essiq team, and a demoralized Dackhammar struggled in both Copenhagen and Helsinki. “We’re still as fast as we were, but we’ve been making far too many big mistakes that we haven’t been able to recover from,” explained Dackhammar.
Canfield attributed much of US-One’s advantage to several weeks of intense training the team did in Miami in 2014 on their way to winning the 2014-15 Miami Winter Series, but he said that the fleet was quickly pushing their boats to the level US-One established early on.
“There are some great sailors throughout this fleet, and they’re all constantly working on improving every aspect of their racing,” said Canfield, who added that his team is working on improving as well. “The second we stop trying to make our boat faster and our team more efficient, we’ll start losing.”
Dackhammar’s performance in the last two events opened a door for 2014 Scandinavian Series champ Hans Wallén, a door the charismatic Swede jumped through with podium finishes in the next three events. Long time rival Mattias Rahm took a bit longer to get up to speed.
“We had a number of issues in the early part of the season, and it took us a couple of events to get on the same page and start performing,” said Rahm, whose team took second place in Copenhagen and Helsinki.
Two newcomers to the 2015 series are Danish America’s Cup and Extreme Sailing Series veteran Jes-Gram Hansen (Team Trifork) and Tornado and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Martin Strandberg (Alite Racing), and both have shown race-winning speed and boat handling, though both have been plagued by unforced errors.
Strandberg lead in Finland after 6 races, but the Malmö resident couldn’t match the field when the wind went light and Alite ended in fifth.
Denmark’s Michael Hestbaek missed the early season racing, though his Team Hydra has been climbing the learning curve with gusto. The mixed Scandinavian team has rotated crew for the three events in which they’ve competed, climbing off the bottom of the leaderboard in front of their hometown fans in Denmark and last week in Finland.
Finally, two world-class skippers join the tail end of the 2015 Scandinvian Series – 5-time Match Race World Champion Ian Williams (GAC Pindar) and ‘The Master of Marstrand” Björn Hansen have jumped into the multihull world with both feet, with Williams enjoying the rapid-fire learning environment on his way to a last-place finish at the Battle of Helsinki.
“We’re not dispirited at all, in fact we’re quite pleased with our performance considering that we are an entirely new crew and we just unwrapped the boat two days before the Finland event,” he said. Williams will look to continue his upward progress in the Stockholm finale, and with Hansen’s lack of experience, team GAC/Pindar should find it relatively easy to stay out of last place in most races.
For his part, Hansen is extremely excited to be part of the ‘new era’ of sailing marked by the high-speed, physicality, and split-second decision making of ultra-high performance M32 Cat. “It’s gonna be a hell of a week,” he said.
Weather forecasters expect a mix of light and heavy winds for the week, and you can watch every second of the racing live atwww.m32series.com, with onboard video and audio, professional commentary from online personality Alan Block and 2-time Match Race World Champion tactician Simon Shaw.
If you’re planning on being in the Stockholm area, you can enjoy onsite hospitality, a jumbo-tron TV, and Swedish-language commentary here in the middle of town at Norr Mälarstrand. Come see us!