Thursday, 21 April 2011

Interview with Will Howden (GBR), Tornado Olympian, Extreme 40 and now also A-Cat Sailor

Will Howden (GBR). Image copyright Red Bull Extreme Sailing Photofiles.

Anne Hinton caught up with Will Howden (GBR) just before the Extreme Sailing Series Act 2 in Qingdao, China. Will had sailed on Mike Golding's ECOVER Extreme 40 in 2010, along with his former Tornado Olympian helm, Leigh Macmillian. This year he finished 7th in the Australian A-cat nationals in Queensland in January, prior to Extreme 40 sailing with Red Bull Extreme Sailing, skippered by Roman Hagara (AUT). Red Bull were on the podium at Act 1 of the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series in Oman.

AH: How did you come to do the Aussie A cat Nationals 2011, please?

WH: There was a big gap between the last X40 event in Almeria and the start of the 2011 season in Oman. I wanted to keep my hand in and go sailing, my friend Glenn Ashby (Team New Zealand) who is actually an AUS said come down live with us and we can go A Cat sailing, plans took off form there as AUS seemed like a good place to be over a cold British winter!!

AH: How long have you been in A cats (and why A cats)?

WH: I had not sailed one before, they always appealed but time did not allow me to sail them. The new boats like the DNA with the curved board are so cool, so much fun to sail that I was sold straight away. Its my sailing as well, in that its not a paid job its me sailing for fun and so some of the pressure is off and that's a good way (for me) to have fun!

AH: Will you do the A cat worlds?

WH: I would love too, I am not to sure if time will permit, my boat is getting shipped there but I will have to see..

Leigh Macmillian at the helm, with Will Howden, on ECOVER in the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

AH: Are you and Leigh Macmillan (GBR) possibly planning to get together again for a 2016 Olympic campaign, if there is a men's multihull, please? (Do you still have your Tornado?)

WH: I don't think so, we have not talked about it, I am getting a bit older and wanting to do different types of sailing like the X40's and AC. We have sold all of our boats. The next game is likely to be a mixed class so a male/female crew which would make it pretty hard for Leigh and I!!!

AH: How much training on multis are you doing, please?

WH: Mulithull is everything for me at the moment, even with the Olympics (in Multihull) I was still doing some monohull sailing, now with the AC in multihull everything is in catamarans. I am sailing the Extreme Sailing Series with Red Bull with is fairly busy especially at the end of the year. I am hopefully signing on with a AC team which will be very busy and then possible a few events in the A Cat to keep me fit and sharp on the small catamarans!

Red Bull Extreme Sailing. Image copyright Red Bull Extreme Sailing Photofiles.

AH: How do you think that the Extreme 40 circuit has developed this year, with more well-funded teams (AC ones), but perhaps less multihull expertise overall (no Cammas, Peyron)?

WH: I certainly don't think the level is less without Franck and Loick, their shoes have been filled by the best AC teams in the World!! The professional level has risen by the increased budgets the teams are brining to the circuit, this is with the quality of the sailors and shore crew outfits. I sail with Roman Hagara now. The best multihull sailor in the world.

AH: How do you see the level of competition in the X40 this year?

WH: I think its the highest we have ever seen, I think there are 6 teams that can still win the series, for me Alinghi have not got into first gear, for a first class set of sailors on that teams and to have had a 5th,6th shows how high the class standard is! Its going to be a tough year and as always it will be about being consistent!

AH: To what type(s) of sailing do you think that the X40 is best suited (stadium - fleet - match - etc), please?

WH: I think the stadium racing is really fun, its certainly different to what we were all brought up to learn and love about sailing. It keeps you sharp on boat handling and rules etc. Fleet racing is where its at for the public, but I can see the appeal of match racing.. At the end of the say for the sailors the boats are fun to sail so for us that's one of the main points!

Red Bull Extreme Sailing finish third in Act One in Oman 2011 (Will Howden is on the right). Image copyright Red Bull Extreme Sailing Photofiles.

AH: What do you get out of X40 sailing compared with other multi racing, please?

WH: I think the challenging locations make the racing exciting, some times scary and always extreme. I think because of the style of racing you are always on your toes, there is never down time which is fun and tiring, you never finish a days sailing and say that you had nothing to do!!

AH: Will you be doing the Ronde om Texel? If so, with whom and in what, please?

WH: Unlikely, again time does not really permit. I would like too, I won it a few years ago with Darren Bundock, if I do sail then it will probably be with him in a F18. There is one other option but that can be talked about right now!

AH: Are you doing any non-cat/multi sailing? If so, what, please?

WH: No plans to for most of the reasons above!

AH: In what direction(s) will you take your sailing career in the future (AC, etc), please?

WH: AC now it is multihull is very, very interesting for me. I would love to be involved with a few cycles if it stays in catamarans, we will see as its a hard game to get into!

AH: Thank you very much indeed for your time, and all the best for your multihull sailing.

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