Groupe Edmond De Rothschild (Photo by Roberto Foresti/ Canon/ OC Events)

Groupe Edmond De Rothschild (Photo by Roberto Foresti/ Canon/ OC Events)

In 30 degrees and 8-10 knots of the breeze the Sicilian town of Trapani provided a stunning backdrop for the opening day of racing on the penultimate stopover in the Extreme Sailing Series™ 2010.
 
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, skippered by Yann Guichard, fresh from their win in Kiel just three weeks ago, came out of the starting blocks with a bang, taking the first three bullets of the day, but The Wave, Muscat, is hot on the Frenchman’s heels, just one point behind after six races.

Seven teams are here in the Medieval town of Trapani, the fleet augmented by a local ‘wildcard’ entry from America’s Cup Strategist, Gabriele Bruni, with his team Trapani, the Sailing Seacily. “It was really great! We had three good races, then in the last three we finished last, but that’s part of the game. The most important thing is that we enjoyed ourselves on the water. The other teams are very well prepared, sometimes we were playing with them, but obviously generally a bit behind. It’s also fantastic to sail in Trapani, in front of the islands, with good breeze.”

Mike Golding’s Ecover Sailing Team, has seen some stunning performances over the past four months of racing and once again looks to be in a good position to challenge for the podium, but is threatened by the fastest man around the planet, Franck Cammas, just one point behind.

With six races completed on day one, there were four boats taking the top spot, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild with three wins, but Groupama 40, Red Bull Extreme Sailing each taking a win and The Wave, Muscat finishing the day with a first.

Extreme Sailing Series (Photo by Roberto Foresti / Canon / OC Events)

Extreme Sailing Series (Photo by Roberto Foresti / Canon / OC Events)

The Extreme Sailing Series™ Trapani continues tomorrow, Friday 24 September, with the seven teams racing right inside the harbour, in front of the public and VIP spectators, from 2pm. Our weather partner WetterWelt expects 11 to 14 knots of breeze, with potential gusts up to 20 – which given the tight situation on the leaderboard will undoubtedly make for hotly contested races. 
 

Trampani (Photo by Toberto Foresti / Canon / OC Events )

Trampani (Photo by Toberto Foresti / Canon / OC Events )

Extreme Sailing Series Fleet  (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

Extreme Sailing Series Fleet (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

The beautiful, medieval port of Trapani, on the western coast of Sicily, will play host to the penultimate round of the Extreme Sailing Series™ 2010 in just a few days time. Seven teams will line up on 23 September including local hero Gabriele Bruni with his ‘wildcard’ entry Trapani the Sailing Seacily.

“So far we have raced on the coastal waters of Sète, with its Mistral winds, then Cowes on the Isle of Wight, which challenged the crews with its complex, tidal conditions. At the end of August, Kiel in Germany gave the teams their tightest racecourses where over 60,000 people turned out in the pouring rain – their loyalty was rewarded with some thrilling, close quarter combat,” commented Event Director, Gilles Chiorri.

“And now Trapani, where the courses on the three public-facing race days will see the state of the art catamarans put through their paces inside the narrow confines of the medieval harbour. Not only will it be a spectacle, it will challenge the very best skippers and sailors we have on the circuit.”

French rising star, Yann Guichard, skipper of Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, currently leads the overall Extreme Sailing Series™ leaderboard, having battled his way to the top demonstrating his picture-perfect starts and his team’s impressive boat-handling skills latterly at the last event in Kiel. Guichard, on 22 points, leads by just 2 points ahead of the youngest skipper in the fleet at just 28, Paul Campbell-James and The Wave, Muscat. The all-British Ecover Sailing Team team led by, Vendée Globe star Mike Golding, is in third place one point behind Campbell-James.

Trapani, Sicily

Trapani, Sicily

Gilles Chiorri concluded, “It’s very tight at the top of the leaderboard, with just three points separating the top three boats, it’s all to play for. There isn’t one clear winner in the fleet by far, anything can happen, and the overall 2010 champion will not be decided until the final event in Andalucia.”

The first day of racing on 23 September will see the fleet head out of the harbour for some longer, classic windward/leeward courses before finishing inside the harbour ahead of the official opening ceremony in the evening.

The in-harbour, stadium-style racing in front of the public will start on the afternoon of Friday 24 September for the seven top professional teams. With 48 World Championship titles, 21 Olympics attended, 14 round the World navigations and 19 sailing records amongst them, the pressure is on amongst the teams to prove their mettle.

Mr Mimmo Turano President of the Province of Trapani said, ‘We are very pleased to have concluded this agreement for many years with a major corporation that brings another important event in Trapani for professional sailing teams.
“We are really satisfied for us to see some of the sailors, who have already competed in Trapani in the America’s Cup in 2005, gladly return to the province of Trapani as evidence of good memories that they’ll bring to the event,” he concluded.

Local Sicilian sailing hero and Olympian Gabriele Bruni will skipper the ‘home’ team, Trapani the Sailing Seacily. Bruni, who represented Italy at the Sydney Olympics in the 49er class and along with his brother, Francesco, races with the Italian America’s Cup team Azzurra, will be joined by his fellow Hobie Tiger World Champion Alberto Sonino on the helm, European Lightening and Optimist Champion Mario Noto on the bow and Giuseppe Leonardi will be the Trimmer.

“I’m really happy to be involved in this international event held in the Trapani waters. The best sailors of the world will line-up and I’m sure we’ll enjoy a lot,” commented Bruni. “Our professional crew is proud to race the Extreme Sailing Series onboard Trapani the Sailing Seacily. In the last years we spent a lot of our time racing the monohulls so it is pretty exciting to come back, especially with my old mate Alberto Sonino, to the unique emotions that only the multihulls can provide.”

Trapani is the most Western port town on the Italian island of Sicily. Twinned with the famous French sailing port of Les Sables-d’Olonne, its crystal clear waters provide beautiful sailing and cruising conditions for thousands of sailors every year and its wind conditions are famed for delivering a consistent breeze throughout the year for both cruisers and racers alike. A rich trading centre throughout the early Middle Age, and a halfway point for Tunisia and Africa, Trápani is enjoying a renewed revitalization thanks to the huge salt pans to the south of town.

Gabriele Olivo, trimmer onboard Red Bull Extreme Sailing, was the lone Italian sailor in the circuit up until now. “I’m really looking forward to sailing in Italy and especially in Sicily. Trapani has been proved in the past to be one of the best places in the world for sailing. The crowds will love the event and I’m sure it will prove to be a really popular event and it will be a fantastic week.

“I’m very happy that I won’t be the only Italian in the circuit, like in the other venues, because we are joined by a local boat skippered by Gabriele Bruni. I hope this will help to inspire the Italian sailors to these incredible and extreme races.”

Teams/Skippers entered into the Extreme Sailing Series™ Trapani:

Ecover Sailing Team (GBR) – Mike Golding (GBR)
Groupama 40 (FRA) – Franck Cammas (FRA)
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) – Yann Guichard (FRA)
Oman Sail Masirah (OMA) – Loick Peyron (FRA)
Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – Roman Hagara (AUT)
The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – Paul Campbell-James (GBR)
Trapani the Sailing Seacily (ITA) – Gabriele Bruni (ITA)

Red Bull Sailing Team ( Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

Red Bull Sailing Team ( Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

Extreme 40's Race In iShares Cup In Hyeres, France (Photo by Lloyd Images / Oman Sail)

Extreme 40's Race In iShares Cup In Hyeres, France (Photo by Lloyd Images / Oman Sail)

Whilst football fans around the world obsess about the selection of their World Cup national squad, all bar one of the Extreme 40 teams have now confirmed their ‘squads’ for the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series that kick-offs in a week’s time on the south coast of France at Sète from 27th-30th. Eight international teams will be on the start line to battle it out over five events across Europe this summer. At the mercy of the on-water referees, the teams racing their high-speed 40′ catamarans will be hoping to avoid any ‘sending offs’! But on race courses that on average only equal the size of six football pitches, the teams are constantly engaged in close combat that frequently result in punishable infringements.

(Photo by Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co/OC Events)


Across the fleet of 32 sailors there are two double Olympic Gold medallists, 61 World and 37 European Championship titles, 20 Round the World navigations, 20 America’s Cups sailed and 39 sailing records held or broken amongst the 14 nationalities.

Three top French skippers will be taking the helms of Extreme 40s this year – Franck Cammas, Yann Guichard and Loick Peyron. Franck Cammas, fresh from his Jules Verne Trophy record-breaking circumnavigation, will drive Groupama 40. Cammas will be joined by former America’s Cup sailor Tanguy Cariou (FRA) as his tactician: “We’ve spent the winter capturing the Jules Verne Trophy with an amazing team onboard Groupama 3, and so Groupama 40 looks pretty small!” Cammas joked. “But we like these close-quarter regattas. Our business is all about sailing so, big or small, in a team, or alone, it’s not important. It’s all about the sailing.”

Experienced offshore multihull sailor, Yann Guichard will once again be helming the Gitana Team entry, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild. Guichard finished an impressive second last season: “2009 was the year we discovered the Extreme Sailing Series and the style of Extreme 40 regattas: the notion of sport as a spectacle! We soon learnt that consistency pays and to perform well in this series and to post good results, you need to navigate really well and not have any on-the-water contact with your competitors.”

(Photo by Yvan Zedda / Gitana SA)


The final French skipper is ‘Mr Multihull’ himself, Loick Peyron who recently helmed Alinghi in the 33rd America’s Cup. Peyron has ‘jumped ship’ from one Oman Sail Extreme 40 to the other and for 2010 will skipper and helm Oman Sail Masirah. Peyron will be joined by the 2009 skipper, now trimmer and team manager, Pete Cumming (GBR). The Sultanate of Oman, as in the previous seasons, has a second entry in the circuit with The Wave, Muscat, skippered by British talent Paul Campbell-James (GBR). An experienced matchracer, ‘CJ’ demonstrated his aggressive starting talent on the winter Asia tour. Joining him will be the first Omani who has progressed through the Oman Sail Academy and now racing as a professional sailor, Khamis Al Anbouri (OMA).

(Photo by Mark Lloyd)


Following his debut in the inaugural Asian Extreme Sailing Series, double Olympic Gold Medallist Roman Hagara (AUT) will be joined by his Olympic crew Hans-Peter Steinacher (AUT) for the Red Bull Extreme Sailing entry. Racing alongside Hagara will be Gabriele Olivo (ITA) and David Vera (ESP), both of whom participated in the last Volvo Ocean Race with the Spanish Telefonica team. Red Bull Extreme Sailing boasts a good balance between offshore and inshore racing experience and talent and will be strong contenders for a podium position.

Veteran Extreme 40 sailor, Nick Moloney (AUS) is back as skipper of the new entry Team GAC Pindar. From the America’s Cup to the solo Route du Rhum and Vendée Globe, and the Jules Verne Trophy, Moloney has seen it all! Helming the British entry Team GAC Pindar is British Tornado sailor Andrew Walsh. Joining them will be Fraser Brown (NZL), another very experienced Extreme 40 player and Team Pindar’s Olly Smith (GBR): a promising combination of talent.

Finally, one of Great Britain’s most accomplished single-handed sailors ever, with two IMOCA World Champion titles, a third in the solo Vendée Globe, Mike Golding returns to the circuit with an all-British line up in the Ecover Sailing Team. Golding will receive a shot in the arm from the combined Olympic Tornado talents of Leigh McMillan, Team GBR’s catamaran helmsman at both the Athens and Beijing Olympics, and Will Howden. Golding commented: “Training has gone really well. Will and Leigh have a great synergy onboard, so it has been a very smooth process working in the role changes. 2009 was a learning curve for all of us, and I hope this year will see us raise the bar in terms of performance on the water. Leigh will be fantastic on the helm, and we intend to make an impact on the leaderboard this season”.

(Photo by Mark Lloyd)
And with just one final team racing under the flag of The Ocean Racing Club in Slovenia, due to announce early next week, there will now be eight teams on the start line: “It’s a hugely impressive line-up again this year, the quality and depth of experience of the sailors increases year on year and guarantees us some spectacular action,” said Event Director, Gilles Chiorri. With more days racing than ever before, the four-day events will challenge every aspect of tactics, speed and finesse for the top international sailors.

Extreme Sailing Series Asia Fleet In Muscat  (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

Extreme Sailing Series Asia Fleet In Muscat (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

Six Extreme 40 catamarans, three countries, 24 sailors: all on a whistle-stop tour of Asia. The inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia finished on Friday 5 February with the 2009 European Champions Oman Sail Masirah being presented the new Series trophy by royalty in the Sultanate of Oman. DON’T MISS THE WORLD SPORT SHOW, CHANNEL 4, SATURDAY 13TH FEBRUARY (more info below)

Oman Sail's Masirah night-sailing in Singapore during the Extreme Sailing Series Asia.
Oman Sail’s Masirah night-sailing in Singapore during the Extreme Sailing Series Asia.
OC Events

OC Events took the award-winning circuit to the region to demonstrate what a future full-scale circuit with shoreside entertainment, VIP hospitality and, of course, the on-water sailing, could deliver to the region. For this first Asian series, the objective was to engage with the media and commercial sectors, whilst at the third and final event in Muscat, a two-day ‘Extreme Beach Event’ took it up a level engaging the public as well.

“This first Extreme Sailing Series Asia exceeded all our expectations. The spectacular sailing conditions in all three locations brought us tight racing by some of the very best sailors and demonstrated the potential to venue partners, key opinion formers, government officials and the media what a full-scale series could bring to their region in future years,” commented Mark Turner, CEO OC Group, owners of the organising company OC Events. “We developed the European circuit in exactly the same way, starting small with a focus on the VIP and media side and four years later here we are with a multi-stop European tour that saw over 200,000 people watch the action in person in 2009. We made the call to go for this first opening series in pretty tough economic times, but we believe our investment will be successful and are already in discussion with potential new venue and series partners for the 2010/2011 tour,” he concluded.

The Extreme Sailing Series Asia circuit received widespread media attention, not only in the countries it visited, but internationally as the media were entertained by the personalities as well as the action on the water. World Sport (formerly Gillette World of Sport), the internationally distributed sports programming, will include Muscat in this week’s show which will go out on UK Terrestrial broadcaster Channel 4 this Saturday (7:30am) and the following Tuesday (01:30am) and across Europe. There has been regular coverage from the series on TV channels including a daily live feed on Oman TV, ITV Meridian and Sky Sports (UK), Eurosport and Euronews (FRA), ATV, ORF 1 & 2 (AUT), Media Corp (SNG) and Mediaset (ITA).

The Extreme 40s set off at the start of the Around the Island Race in Hong Kong
The Extreme 40s set off at the start of the Around the Island Race in Hong Kong
Marco Hong/OC Events

The reach will increase from March 2010 when a 26-minute programme will be distributed and air on channels including Sky Sports (UK), Sport + (FRA), ESPN (Pan-Asia) and Fox Sport (pan-USA & South America).

The circuit began in Hong Kong (20-24 November), racing out of the prestigious Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for five days including a day with the 200-plus fleet for the annual Around the Island Race, where the Extreme 40s took line honours.

Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team on Day 1 at Singapore
Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team on Day 1 at Singapore
Daria Giuliani/Chili-Sports.com


The six catamarans were then packed up and transported to Marina Reservoir, right underneath the World’s tallest observation tower in Singapore (11-15 December), the first time the stretch of water had been used for a professional sport event.

The series concluded last week in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, where the home team Masirah lifted the inaugural championship trophy. Three days of racing in front of a VIP setup, was followed by an ‘Extreme

Thousands gather on the beach on the first public day of the Muscat event
Thousands gather on the beach on the first public day of the Muscat event
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

Beach Party’ with over 2,000 people gathering at Al Hail beach for a five-a-side football competition, volleyball matches, the Muscat round of the Red Bull Street Style competition as well as watching the racing, which took place in front of government statesmen and royalty for the Omani weekend.

“It’s been exciting introducing new people to the circuit,” commented Emily Caroe, PR Director of OC Events Extreme Sailing Series. “There’s nothing better than welcoming a non-sailor to the circuit, be it World record-breaker Assafa Powell in Singapore or a female journalist in her traditional dress who has never even stepped on a boat before. Persuading them to conquer their fears and step onto an Extreme 40 was not easy, but by the time your back is turned, they are on the helm, or trimming and shouting for the hull to fly even higher. It’s such a great experience and provides them with a unique story.”

Fleet racing on day 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia at The Wave, Muscat.
Fleet racing on day 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia at The Wave, Muscat.
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

Seventy journalists attended the three, five-day events, and when conditions allowed stepping onboard and racing in the fifth man positions onboard the six Extreme 40s. Andreas Tzortzis, from international magazine, Red Bulletin, raced with double Olympic Gold Medallist Shirley Robertson onboard Rumbo Almeria. “That was absolutely fantastic. You are absolutely in the thick of it and that is an experience you don’t normally have in sailboat racing unless you are racing yourself. As a spectator, or even as a journalist you don’t nearly get so close so it gives you an understanding of the amount of pressure they are under. It is absolutely astonishing.”

There have been over 180 pieces of quality coverage from the three events, with press junkets at each venue to experience Extreme racing first hand. Journalists attended from Sina.com, China’s leading online portal which ran daily reports, China Boating, The Business Times and Today Newspaper all visited the opening event in Hong Kong. An international visit of GCC media attended the final event in Muscat including journalists from Men’s Passion, Ahlan and Al Rai in Kuwait, the Qatar Tribune, Ohlala Magazine, Bahrain Confidential and Areej Magazines in Bahrain, Business Traveller and City Times in the United Arab Emirates.

“Our goal was to bring a select group of journalists who could experience first hand an Extreme Sailing Series event. Thanks to the support of the Muscat Municipality, they had the chance to see a public facing event with all the activities on Al Hail beach as well as the racing,” commented Caroe.

The six skippers competing in the Extreme Sailing Series Asia
The six skippers competing in the Extreme Sailing Series Asia
Marco Hong/OC Events

Thierry Barot, skipper of China Team was impressed with his first venture into Extreme 40 sailing: “It was very impressive, right in front of the public but still this sport is very intense, delivery is very high in terms of tactics and strategies. I really believe it is the future of sailing. This is what sailing needs in term of development – the Extreme Sailing Series is a sport in itself.”


And as the Asian tour comes to an end, the next begins. The Extreme Sailing Series Europe starts in earnest in May 2010 with the first venues being announced shortly.

Oman Sail Masirah". Shown here racing close to the shore line. Skippered by Pete Cumming(GBR),Leigh McMillan(GBR),Mark Bulkeley(GBR),Nasser Al Mashari(OMA) (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Event)

Oman Sail Masirah". Shown here racing close to the shore line. Skippered by Pete Cumming(GBR),Leigh McMillan(GBR),Mark Bulkeley(GBR),Nasser Al Mashari(OMA) (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Event)

 
Oman Sail Masirah crowned winners of the final event in Muscat and the overall Series.
Oman Sail Masirah crowned winners of the final event in Muscat and the overall Series.
(All Photos by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

First European champions, now Oman Sail Masirah is crowned champion of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia. This event was billed locally as ‘Oman Sail versus The World’ and they came out on top in style. It was a great victory on their home soil and it went to the wire with Masirah winning the final race of the Muscat event to clinch both the regatta title and take the Extreme Sailing Series Asia crown. The Wave, Muscat and China Team completed the podium in 2nd and 3rd also for the regatta and overall.

Fleet racing on the final day of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia, Muscat.
Fleet racing on the final day of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia, Muscat.
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

This three-event Asian tour has seen many familiar faces from the European tour, such as, double Olympic Gold Medalist Shirley Robertson, solo round the world skipper Nick Moloney and European Champion Pete Cumming, whilst newcomers Thierry Barot on China Team and Roman Hagara on Red Bull Extreme Sailing have gone from a ‘standing start’ to put in an awesome performance, pushing the more seasoned racers all the way.

The Asian circuit kicked off in Hong Kong, then Singapore before ending here in Muscat at a full public event:

Thierry Barot (FRA), China Team skipper
Thierry Barot (FRA), China Team skipper
OC Events

“It was very impressive, right in front of the public but still this sport is very intense, delivery is very high in terms of tactics and strategies. I really believe it is the future of sailing,” said China Team skipper Thierry Barot. “This is what sailing needs in term of development – the Extreme Sailing Series is a sport in itself.”

Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team racing on day 3 at Muscat
Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team racing on day 3 at Muscat
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

At the start of the fifth and final day of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia Muscat event there were a few worried and tense looking sailors on the dockside – the wind was blowing over 20 knots and the anticipation of some tense battles ahead only heightened the stakes. Thierry Barot’s China Team and Paul Campbell-James and the crew on The Wave, Muscat were on equal points at the start of racing with Masirah just one point behind and it was clear this was where the battle for the podium would be taking place.

Red Bull Extreme Sailing who suffered a capsize yesterday were just one point ahead of Nick Moloney’s BT, whilst Shirley Robinson on Rumbo Almeria knew she could play catch up if things went in her favour. The scene was set for an awesome display of Extreme racing.

Omani children enjoy watching the Extreme 40s racing, Muscat.
Omani children enjoy watching the Extreme 40s racing, Muscat.
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

As the local crowds gathered on Al-Hail beach for the final day of the ‘Extreme Beach Party’, racing got underway with two rounds of ‘speed runs’.
The reefed Extreme 40s relished these high-speed conditions courtesy of the 20+ knots of north-westerly wind, and flew down the windward/leeward course flying the hulls in front of the packed VIP platform.

Rumbo Almeria racing on the final day of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia, Muscat.
Rumbo Almeria racing on the final day of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia, Muscat.
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

As the wind dropped to around 10 knots, the huge mainsails were hoisted to the top of the masts, and fleet racing began. The Oman Sail boats led the way – first place for The Wave, Muscat and second for Masirah. China Team finished fourth place behind BT, putting them 6 points behind leaders. Another drama for Red Bull as their mainsail came tumbling down mid-race. They quickly hoisted a man of the mast to sort it out and were back racing in time for the penultimate race.

The pressure was at the max… The skippers jostling for position on the short start line – Paul Campbell-James misjudged the start and was over the line, forcing him to restart as their teammates sailed away to snatch the race. China Team were struggling in the lighter airs, as the Oman boats pulled ahead on the leaderboard. But the double-points final race was coming up…

His Highness Sayyid Shahab bin Tariq Al Said, Advisor to His Majesty, His Excellency Maqbool bin Ali bin Sultan, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Her Excellency Dr. Rajiha bint Abdulameer bin Ali, Minister of Tourism, joined the VIP guests on the platform for the start of the final race.

Oman Sail Masirah crew onboard on the final day at Muscat.
Oman Sail Masirah crew onboard on the final day at Muscat.
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

Only just enough wind remained to propel the boats over the line. Pete Cumming takes up the story: “We’re quite a heavy crew so when the wind went right down, we had a bit on as the guys on The Wave are light and very quick. But they made the cardinal sin of stalling the boat in the start zone, and when it’s really, really light you just have to keep moving as boat speed is key. We saw them stalling the boat and we just sheeted on and got away.” Masirah went into the lead to win the final race and clinch victory here in Muscat. “It’s everything we worked for and hoped for! But you can’t underestimate the guys that turned up for the Asian series at all. We’ve seen the fleet get stronger and stronger and every event and push us harder and harder in every race.”

It was a superb end to a fantastic inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia. Only in a few months time, the Extreme Sailing Series European circuit will be starting – we can’t wait!

Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team rounding the race mark on the final day of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia, Muscat.
Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team rounding the race mark on the final day of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia, Muscat.
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

Extreme Sailing Series Asia : Muscat
1st Oman Sail Masirah, 103 points
2nd The Wave, Muscat, 101 points
3rd China Team, 91 points
4th BT, 84 points
5th Red Bull Extreme Sailing, 71 points
6th Rumbo Almeria, 70 points

Extreme Sailing Series Overall:

Extreme 40s racing on Day 4 of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia, Muscat.
Extreme 40s racing on Day 4 of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia, Muscat.
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events


1st Masirah, 18 points
2nd The Wave, Muscat, 11 points
3rd China Team, 11 points
4th BT, 10 points
5th Red Bull Extreme Sailing, 8 points
6th Rumbo Almeria, 5 points

Red Bull Extreme 40 (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

Red Bull Extreme 40 (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

Thousands gathered on the beach on the first public day of the Muscat event of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia to see the six teams race in the biggest breeze so far – not only of the Asian series but the entire 2009 European series! With 25 knots of wind that accelerated the boats downwind at speeds of 30km per hour, this was white-knuckle racing for the sailors in fully testing conditions and a capsize for Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team…

Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team capsize on Day 4, Muscat.
Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team capsize on Day 4, Muscat.
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

Nose dives, rooster tails, close calls, penalties, breakages, fraught mark roundings… For the sailors it was physical and stressful, for the spectators it was pure entertainment drawing cheers as the six teams threw themselves around the short race track.

Beach Football at the �Extreme Beach Party�  Event in Muscat
Beach Football at the �Extreme Beach Party� Event in Muscat
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

For the Omani public the two-day ‘Extreme Beach Party‘ kicked off on Al-Hail beach to the west of the capital city with the Red Bull Street Style competition, five-a-side football tournament and the Arsenal soccer school open for business, alongside ‘try-sailing’ sessions. With local radio Hai FM keeping the crowds they had plenty to entertain them both on and off the water.

Back on the water, boat handling and precision gennaker hoists and drops proved crucial… The six boats raced with a reef and for the first two races without their massive gennakers, but the race committee finally gave the nod for the sails to be used in the remaining races.

Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team capsize on Day 4 at Muscat.
Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team capsize on Day 4 at Muscat.
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

Inevitably the pressure piled on and Red Bull Extreme Sailing, still leading overall, got caught out in race 5. Trying to hold on to their huge gennaker for as long as they dare as they approached the final downwind mark, the furl wasn’t slick enough, and the breeze caught in the sail enough to tip them over as they attempted to round the mark for the final sprint to the finish line. Skipper Roman Hagara, was taken to hospital to have stitches put in his hand. Game over, not only for the day’s racing but also as the team had to relinquish their overall lead to Thierry Barot’s China Team, helmed by Hugh Styles, on the penultimate day of the Muscat event – the final round in the Asian Extreme Sailing Series. Hugh: “We had a few little curve balls at the start of the day and we were last in the first race. But we just tried to keep clean and out of trouble, especially coming into the top mark. Tomorrow’s another day and we’re looking forward to doing better.”

The Wave, Muscat racing on Day 4, Muscat.
The Wave, Muscat racing on Day 4, Muscat.
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

Oman Sail’s Masirah had the best day on the water today – languishing in 4th place overall after yesterday’s match racing session – Pete Cumming’s team scored the most points to elevate Masirah to 3rd in the overall standings with 70 points, just behind their stablemate The Wave, Muscat now in 2nd place going into the final day of racing tomorrow. Bowman, Khamis Al Anbourri, “Today we had 25 knots – a really amazing day! Earlier in the day we were doing some practice match racing with Shirley and it just got windier so we put a reef in. We didn’t use gennakers in the first two races then we were allowed to use them. It was quite hard work and all the time concentrating to go faster. This is the windiest conditions I’ve raced in – we’ve been waiting for conditions like this in Oman to show the people it’s a really amazing sport, hard work but wonderful.”

Oman Sail Masirah have come to the final Asian event in Muscat holding the series lead and their first performance over the first three days was starting to look worrying but now they are back on form and there is no doubt the team are fully motivated to win on home soil.

BT and Rumbo Almeria may not have had the best day on the water but saved their best performance till the final race scoring a first and a second place.

Tomorrow is the final day of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia Muscat event which will see the event and overall series trophies claimed. With a similar weather conditions expected tomorrow – the stakes could not be higher!

Thousands gathered on the beach on the first public day of the Muscat event of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia to see the six teams race in the biggest breeze so far – not only of the Asian series but the entire 2009 European series! With 25 knots of wind that accelerated the boats downwind at speeds of 30km per hour, this was white-knuckle racing for the sailors in fully testing conditions and a capsize for Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team…

Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team capsize on Day 4, Muscat.
Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team capsize on Day 4, Muscat.
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

Nose dives, rooster tails, close calls, penalties, breakages, fraught mark roundings… For the sailors it was physical and stressful, for the spectators it was pure entertainment drawing cheers as the six teams threw themselves around the short race track.

Beach Football at the �Extreme Beach Party�  Event in Muscat
Beach Football at the �Extreme Beach Party� Event in Muscat
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

For the Omani public the two-day ‘Extreme Beach Party‘ kicked off on Al-Hail beach to the west of the capital city with the Red Bull Street Style competition, five-a-side football tournament and the Arsenal soccer school open for business, alongside ‘try-sailing’ sessions. With local radio Hai FM keeping the crowds they had plenty to entertain them both on and off the water.

Back on the water, boat handling and precision gennaker hoists and drops proved crucial… The six boats raced with a reef and for the first two races without their massive gennakers, but the race committee finally gave the nod for the sails to be used in the remaining races.

Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team capsize on Day 4 at Muscat.
Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team capsize on Day 4 at Muscat.
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

Inevitably the pressure piled on and Red Bull Extreme Sailing, still leading overall, got caught out in race 5. Trying to hold on to their huge gennaker for as long as they dare as they approached the final downwind mark, the furl wasn’t slick enough, and the breeze caught in the sail enough to tip them over as they attempted to round the mark for the final sprint to the finish line. Skipper Roman Hagara, was taken to hospital to have stitches put in his hand. Game over, not only for the day’s racing but also as the team had to relinquish their overall lead to Thierry Barot’s China Team, helmed by Hugh Styles, on the penultimate day of the Muscat event – the final round in the Asian Extreme Sailing Series. Hugh: “We had a few little curve balls at the start of the day and we were last in the first race. But we just tried to keep clean and out of trouble, especially coming into the top mark. Tomorrow’s another day and we’re looking forward to doing better.”

The Wave, Muscat racing on Day 4, Muscat.
The Wave, Muscat racing on Day 4, Muscat.
Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events

Oman Sail’s Masirah had the best day on the water today – languishing in 4th place overall after yesterday’s match racing session – Pete Cumming’s team scored the most points to elevate Masirah to 3rd in the overall standings with 70 points, just behind their stablemate The Wave, Muscat now in 2nd place going into the final day of racing tomorrow. Bowman, Khamis Al Anbourri, “Today we had 25 knots – a really amazing day! Earlier in the day we were doing some practice match racing with Shirley and it just got windier so we put a reef in. We didn’t use gennakers in the first two races then we were allowed to use them. It was quite hard work and all the time concentrating to go faster. This is the windiest conditions I’ve raced in – we’ve been waiting for conditions like this in Oman to show the people it’s a really amazing sport, hard work but wonderful.”

Oman Sail Masirah have come to the final Asian event in Muscat holding the series lead and their first performance over the first three days was starting to look worrying but now they are back on form and there is no doubt the team are fully motivated to win on home soil.

BT and Rumbo Almeria may not have had the best day on the water but saved their best performance till the final race scoring a first and a second place.

Tomorrow is the final day of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia Muscat event which will see the event and overall series trophies claimed. With a similar weather conditions expected tomorrow – the stakes could not be higher!

Extreme Sailing Series Asia (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images.OC Events)

Extreme Sailing Series Asia (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images.OC Events)

Some said it couldn’t be done on more than one hull, but the six Extreme 40s here at The Wave, Muscat for the Extreme Sailing Series Asia demonstrated that match racing in multihulls is not only viable, but spectacular. The crowded VIP viewing platform was given a thrilling demonstration of close quarter combat as the teams took it in turns to race head-to-head, just metres off the harbour wall.
 
The promised 12-15 knot wind came through at midday and the Race Committee set up a tight, 500metre course. Seven flights, two matches a flight, and the teams were preparing for a long day.

Red Bull Extreme Sailing took on China Team in the first match and the America’s Cup experienced duo of Thierry Barot and Tan Wearn Haw was evident as they dominated the pre-start manoeuvres, often slowing the racing down as they prepared to round the marks. But on the last beat, Red Bull overturned the match, taking the lead and the first point. The games had begun …

China Team and Red Bull Extreme Sailing in action on day 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia at The Wave, Muscat (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

China Team and Red Bull Extreme Sailing in action on day 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia at The Wave, Muscat (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

The third match of the day was an Omani head-to-head with The Wave, Muscat hoping to capitalise on skipper Paul Campbell-James’ student Match Racing experience, up against their stablemate Masirah. The boats were aggressive in the pre-start, with both sides calling for penalties, but green flagged by the Umpires and a fantastic start for Masirah, hitting the line at full pace. But disaster struck for The Wave, Muscat. As they flew a hull, almost over the mark, their clew failed, leaving their mainsail flapping in the wind. It was all over for Campbell-James and his team limped back to dock to repair the damage before tomorrow’s penultimate day..

And so it continued. The action behind the start line was tight as the teams used their match racing experience to block each other out at the committee boat end, the action unfurling almost at the feet of the spectators. This simplified form of match racing was easy to understand for the non-sailors in the crowd and the more knowledgeable sailors were all commenting on how fast the teams were putting the Extreme 40s through their manoeuvres. Mistakes were punished hard by the opposing team as they all chased the win and the point for first over the line.
 

Masirah powers down the matchracing course during day 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia at The Wave, Muscat. (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

Masirah powers down the matchracing course during day 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia at The Wave, Muscat. (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

Masirah’s strong boat handling skills were evident in the stronger winds as they barely put a foot wrong around the courses finishing top boat after the first round robin:

Wins/Losses
Masirah 5/0
Rumbo Almería 4/1
Red Bull Extreme Sailing 3/2
BT 2/3
China Team 1/4
The Wave, Muscat 0/5

This left The Wave, Muscat on the dock and China Team in fifth place with Red Bull and BT to battle it out for third place and Masirah and Rumbo Almería for the overall top spot.
 

China Team skipper Thierry Barot commented, “Hard day, but good learning day. It is the first time we have done match racing together, Wearn Haw and I have before for the America’s Cup, but not with Hugh [Styles] and Adam [Piggott]. Most of the starts we had were quite good, only lost one against Rumbo Almeria, but they had a great day.

Thierry Barot, trimmer and skipper on China Team is put through his paces matchracing on day 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia at The Wave, Muscat (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

Thierry Barot, trimmer and skipper on China Team is put through his paces matchracing on day 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia at The Wave, Muscat (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

“It’s been very interesting to do match racing in these boats. It was a very tough day for me, but great fun. I hope we do it more. I was a little bit worried about our experience but you find a lot of similar situations with the monohulls and multihulls and the solution is the same. For a first experience it was great and looking forward to doing more.”

And so the ‘petit final’ began. BT up against Red Bull Extreme Sailing. The racing was tight and Red Bull was in control from the start, but a forced error at the final top mark saw the Austrian team struggle with unfurling their gennaker with only one third of the sail out.. BT saw their opening and took it. Nick Moloney said, “We saw their gennaker and we started screaming at each other, come on come on and went hard as, and really aggressively fired each other up. ‘Come on boys!’ we were shouting. And then everyone lifts. We are amped anyway because it is so high energy but takes you to a higher level.” BT stormed down the final leg to take the win from the jaws of defeat and finished in third overall.

bt-matchracing-by-mark-lloyd

BT Matchracing Day 3 (Photo By Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

 
And the final beckoned for Oman Sail Masirah against double Olympic Gold Medallist Shirley Robertson’s Rumbo Almeria. Shirley, an experienced match racer, dominated from the start, at one point sailing backwards to get out of the Omani team’s clutches. She led over the line and kept in front all the way round, giving no room for overtaking and comfortably winning the match, and the day.

“We had a bit of a think about it before we went out. How were we going to gain an advantage and gain the opportunities and the pitfalls. The breeze was up, the boats are pretty difficult in that amount of wind, we were a bit nervous, but we approached the day fresh and approached each match fresh and as the tournament went on we got better and better.

“I’m the only girl out there but I have done quite a lot of match racing before and as have some of the other guys on the other teams. You need a fair amount of aggression but also you have to be able to manoeuvre your boat into position and that takes a bit of team work It was great coming into the final, we felt pretty confident and we came out on top – it was a great moment.”
 
And so the Extreme 40s proved it could be done, in spectacular style and easily understood by the spectators. Nick Moloney summed up the day for everyone, “It was really good. Beautiful wind obviously made for awesome sailing. Muscat turned it on for the weather, what more would you want? Perfect hull flying conditions, flat water and beautiful blue skies. Everyone is really tired, but stoked. It’s good to come off the water tired, you know you have done something worthwhile.”

Results after day 3 of racing:

Red Bull Extreme Sailing – 50
The Wave, Muscat – 42
BT – 38
China Team – 38
Masirah – 36
Rumbo Almeria – 27

Sailor quotes:

Double Olympic Gold Medallist Roman Hagara, Red Bull Extreme Sailing: It was good to do this with the Extreme 40s and we had some tight races which was nice. I think it is a good format. It was thrilling onboard. The boats are so quick and you have to be careful not hit the other boat or the rocks. We were so close to shore at time and the spectators.

“We had another good furl at the gate and then it came undone on the downwind leg and that’s it. Not a big problem we will learn. Tomorrow we feel comfortable crew work is perfect now, not always, but getting better and better so we feel good.”

Ian Walker, double Olympic silver medallist, Rumbo Almeria: “It was very interesting today. Having skippered and been a tactician in the America’s Cup, I was interested to see how it would work in catamarans, particularly with the America’s Cup being in multihulls this time. I actually think it can work. We don’t get that many passing manoeuvres anyway in the slower, heavier boats and what we saw today was a real premium boat handling. But the most important thing is setting the course so the boats can split at the leeward mark. If it was a one way track, it wouldn’t work. But today it was an excellent course and there was a lot of over taking, from what we saw today in these conditions and these boats, I think thumbs up.

Leigh McMillan, helm on Oman Sail Masirah: “It was obviously going to be full on with a bit of wind so got to actually get the boats moving a bit which was a lot of fun and quite a tight racecourse. The short racing area meant that the manoeuvres were full on, you never had a moment in the race to settle down. But it was good fun to engage with the other boats. It wasn’t like two boat fleet racing, the pre-start dial ups in these boats were a lot of fun and a lot of pin outs at the Committee boats and that is what is exciting about match racing and we did it in the Extreme 40. We enjoyed it and had a good day. We won all of the round robin races and then we only had one final, so obviously lost that, unfortunately, but again, we had a great day and it was a lot of fun.”

Light Airs For Extreme Sailing Series Asia Fleet (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

Light Airs For Extreme Sailing Series Asia Fleet (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

 

The opening day of racing at The Wave, Muscat required a touch of finesse by the sailors onboard the six Extreme 40s taking part in the final round of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia as they battled with light winds all afternoon.

Renowned light-air specialists Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher, onboard Red Bull Extreme Sailing, finished the first day as top boat – with a lead of seven points over China Team – who are keeping a tight hold on their current overall 2nd placed position – and The Wave, Muscat.

Roman Hagara, Skipper Of Red Bull Extreme Sailing, Leader After Day 1 (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

Roman Hagara, Skipper Of Red Bull Extreme Sailing, Leader After Day 1 (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

Double Olympic Gold Medallist, Roman Hagara (AUT) was pleased with his team’s performance on the opening day. “A good beginning. The difference today was we had really good starts, and once you are in the front with these courses in the light wind it is easy to stay in the front.” His tactician, Hans Peter Steinacher, agreed, “After a week of training we’ve had here in Oman it feels good on the boat. We have more time to look for the wind as our manoeuvres become more natural. It gets better and better. The secret in these light airs? Go as fast a possible over the line, it doesn’t matter in which position – that’s the clue!”

With the wind reaching a maximum of 9 knots, it was a slow afternoon for the Extreme 40s, requiring more brain than brawn to get round the four courses. With the tougher ‘reaching’ starts, when the wind hits the start line from the side, rather than the more usual head on or from behind, some of the teams struggled to adjust and found themselves blocked and unable to get over the line cleanly. Current overall leaders of the Asian circuit, Oman Sail’s Masirah, was one such team as skipper Pete Cumming explained. “It was tricky today, definitely not the 10-15 knots I predicted the fleet would get yeterday. The wind just died away and it was really hard racing. The sea was quite sloppy as we had a good wind this morning and the courses were tough so the fleet got spread out and there aren’t many over-taking lanes.

“We couldn’t get off the start line cleanly today, a lot of reaching starts and we should be better at them. We’ve done enough of them in training so it shouldn’t be an excuse. Tomorrow is another day, and we’ll be looking for less sixth places and more firsts!”

Picture The Wave Muscat Skippered by Paul Campbell-James(GBR) leading Red Bull Extreme Sailing skippered by Roman Hagara(AUT) (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

Picture The Wave Muscat Skippered by Paul Campbell-James(GBR) leading Red Bull Extreme Sailing skippered by Roman Hagara(AUT) (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events)

Watching the racing at The Wave, Muscat, was a delegation of statesmen from the Omani and Singaporean governments, to see the naming of The Jewel of Muscat, a traditionally built sailing vessel, using techniques and skills over 2,000 years old. It was an extraordinary sight as The Jewel of Muscat sailed through the fleet of state-of-the art Extreme 40s. Pete Cumming, skipper of Masirah commented, “There was 2,000 years of sailing history out there today. For the Oman Sail project we had every extreme – every arm of the project designed to reignite the Sultanate’s sailing heritage. There was the Jewel of Muscat, the historical part, and then you have the 2010 version of the Jewel of Muscat with the Extreme 40!”

Red Bull Extreme Sailing’s two firsts and two seconds put them in first place, seven points ahead of China Team and The Wave, Muscat. “It was a little frustrating as we didn’t start well today and our position at the finish didn’t always relate to our position at the start,” commented The Wave, Muscat Skipper Paul Campbell-James. “We’ll be looking for a bit of a better day with our starts tomorrow and I think we will be pushing Red Bull Extreme Sailing for the lead. They had a great day today.”

Hugh Styles, the helmsmen onboard China Team also found the going hard. “It was tough today. Everything was about being clean off the line and we did a pretty good job in the firt two races and we are pleased with how we were sailing the boat today. We only had yesterday’s day of practice so it has come together pretty nicely.

extreme-sailing-asia-day-1

Extreme Sailing Asia Day 1 (Photo by Mark Lloyd/LLoyd Images/OC Events)

“It’s such a unique location here sailing in the mouth of a harbour and having all the dignatries watching it does give a bit of added pressure to it. You aren’t just sailing in front of a crowd of, you are sailing in front of government officials – you have to perform well!”

The second day of racing will begin at 2pm tomorrow, Tuesday 2 February.

Results after day 1 of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia:

Red Bull Extreme Sailing – 22 points
CHINA TEAM – 15 points
The Wave, Muscat – 15 points
Rumbo Almeria – 12 points
Masirah – 11 points
BT – 9 points