Cardiff  © Nick Treharne

Cardiff © Nick Treharne

 

The UK round of the award-winning Extreme Sailing Series™ now in its sixth year will be staged in Cardiff the capital of Wales between the 24-27 August, 2012. In a three-year deal, Cardiff won the bid to host the UK event of this global sailing circuit that is only one of four events with ISAF (International Sailing Federation) Special Event status, positioning the city alongside the other seven premium international sporting venues hosting an Extreme Sailing Series Act in 2012. The host venue agreement with Cardiff City is backed by a Welsh Government grant for 2012-2014.

The Extreme 40 catamarans, raced by many of the world’s best sailors, will race on Cardiff Bay over four days with the event open to the public between the 25-27 August as the Extreme 40 fleet race in the circuit’s action packed ‘stadium’ format.

Executive chairman of the organising company behind the series, Mark Turner of OC ThirdPole, said: “The circuit continues to represent perfectly the developments in the world at large, with its balance of east and west, different cultures and languages and variety of conditions.

“Year on year the commercial value to the host cities of securing this event for the host venues has steadily increased, and this is reflected in 2012 developments. A pro-active and innovative host venue is critical to the success of the event, and we are very excited in this respect by the partnership with Cardiff and the Welsh Government.”

Cardiff Council’s Executive Member for Sport, Culture and Leisure Cllr, Nigel Howells commented: “It’s great news that Cardiff has secured the Extreme Sailing series for the next three years, as a council we will do all that we can to support the event.

“Cardiff has proved time and time again that it can play host to a variety of world class sporting events. From top class football and rugby to newer events like Extreme Sailing. Since the opening of Cardiff International White Water (CIWW) in 2010 more and more watersport events are coming to Cardiff, which is helping to attract a new audience to Cardiff and Wales.”

The 2012 Extreme Sailing Series will be staged at 8 different international venues across three continents, attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators. Alongside other significant media exposure, once again a dedicated TV series will be produced and broadcast on up to 40 channels around the world, including CNBC, Bloomberg, Channel 4 (UK), Sky (UK), Al Jazeera, Fox (Latin America, Australia Middle East), ESPN, Sport+ (France), RAI (Italy).

As we enter the final countdown to the first Act in Oman, the 2012 team line-up will be revealed this coming weekend at the Dusseldorf Boat Show.

2012 Calendar & Host Venues:
Act 1 : Muscat, Oman 28th February-2nd March
Act 2 : Qingdao, China 17th-20th April*
Act 3 : Istanbul, Turkey 7th-10th June
Act 4 : Porto, Portugal 5th-8th July
Act 5: Cardiff, UK 24th-27th August
Act 6 : Trapani, Italy 13th-16th September
Act 7 : Nice, France 18th-21st October
Act 8 : Brazil 29th November-2nd December

Due to official Chinese naval activities in the port of Qingdao, Act 2 will now be staged between 17th-20th April instead of the 19th-22nd April as previously communicated

 

Extreme Sailing Series Boston  Artemis and Red Bull (Photo © George Bekris)

Extreme Sailing Series Boston Artemis and Red Bull (Photo © George Bekris)

Cowes Action (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

Cowes Action (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

It’s all to play for in Almeria this week as the final event of the Extreme Sailing Series™ 2010 circuit kicks off on 9 October. Just four points separate the top four boats at the top of the leaderboard and two Omani, one French and a British team are all hoping to step onto the top podium position at 6.30pm on 12 October.
 
For the second year running, Almeria, on the Southern coast of Andalucia, Spain, will once again host the finale to the Extreme Sailing Series™. Eight teams will line up, including two new entries: a return to the circuit for Mitch Booth (NED/AUS) with his Spanish team, Rumbo Almeria, co-skippered by Guillermo Altadill (ESP), and Dean Barker (NZL) will skipper the first antipodean entry, Emirates Team New Zealand.

Event Director Gilles Chiorri commented, “With 103 races down and up to 30 more to come, Almeria will test the teams in new ways. There will be a mix of racing, some outside the harbour walls in ‘open water’ before the teams start the stadium battles right in the heart of the port from 3.30pm each day. For the teams that were there last year, they know that there is very little room for run-off and mistakes are punished hard. It will be challenging for the teams and exciting for the spectators. A perfect Extreme Sailing Series™ venue.”

Paul Campbell-James and his crew onboard The Wave, Muscat, leads the Championship standings, snatching the overall top spot from Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, following some aggressive racing tactics on the last day in Trapani. “We are there to win and it all comes down to the end of the season. It isn’t quite going to be one on one racing, but not far off and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some fairly aggressive sailing by both teams,” Campbell-James commented.

“We are at every event with the sole purpose of trying to be on the podium and that is how we will start Almería. We will be conservative at the beginning but, as we did in Cowes and Trapani, keep the pressure on until we take the top spot overall. The best thing about the team, every time we go out, we enjoy it, and that’s really the key to our success,” Campbell-James finished. If Campbell-James manages to secure overall victory, it will be an impressive win for the youngest skipper on the circuit in his first full Extreme Sailing Series season – racing against some of the best names in the sport.

But there will be three other teams battling to stop them reaching the top… With two wins apiece for The Wave, Muscat and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, the Omani team currently leads the overall standings with 28 and 27 overall points respectively. Yann Guichard and his crew had to settle for second place overall last year, but the French team will be going for an all-out win this time. As proven many times over, when Guichard’s team get into their stride, they can be unstoppable. Mike Golding’s Ecover Sailing Team lies in third place with 25 points and in fourth, Oman Sail Masirah, skippered by Loick Peyron, with 24 points. With eight points for an event win in Almeria, the whole podium is open.

Joining the eight-strong fleet of professional sailors will be the co-creator of the Extreme 40 class, Mitch Booth, with Guillermo Altadill, a multi-disciplined round the world navigator with seven circumnavigations to his name.

“For several years I have been involved in multihulls, in ocean races as well as in Olympic Games when the Tornado was an Olympic class. I have always believed that the show and spectacle in sailing was there and last year I came to Almería to watch the Extreme Sailing Series. I told Mark Turner [Chairman of organisers OC ThirdPole] that I had the intention of having a team and one day take part in the circuit. I believe it’s fantastic and a show not only for the professionals but also for the public who come to watch the events.”

The second new team joining the circuit will be from New Zealand, skippered by Dean Barker, Emirates Team New Zealand. Barker will be joined by two regular ETNZ teammates, Winston Macfarlane, who raced in the 2009 Extreme Sailing Series in Cowes, and Jeremy Lomas, the regular bowman for the team. The final addition will be Australian double Olympic Silver medallist and multihull specialist, Darren Bundock.

Luciano Alonso Alonso, the Andalucian Minister for Tourism commented, “The winner of the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series will be decided at the event next week in Almería. Andalucía is once again the host of a top sports event and Almería is going to be making headlines in the world of sailing. I’m particularly pleased because in Almería there will be two new teams competing, Rumbo Almería, with the name ‘Andalucia’ on the sail, and Emirates Team New Zealand. Therefore on behalf of the Junta de Andalucia I want to thank the organizers of the Extreme Sailing Series for bringing the top international sailors to Almería.”

In 2009, the Almeria event attracted over 85,000 spectators, over the same traditional family-centric Puente del Pilar weekend. Once again, the commercial port in the heart of the city will be transformed with bands, childrens activities and food and drink outlets.

Overall Series Standings:

The Wave, Muscat 28
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild 27
Ecover Sailing Team 25
Oman Sail Masirah 24
Groupama 40 12
Red Bull Extreme Sailing 12
The Ocean Racing Club 8
Team GAC Pindar 3

 

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 )

Franck Cammas and Groupama 40 Crew In The Water After Collision with Boat and Wall ( Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events )

Franck Cammas and Groupama 40 Crew In The Water After Collision with Boat and Wall ( Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events )

There was plenty of dramatic action on day two of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week today. With 18-20 knots of breeze, gusting over 20 at times, the nine teams were racing right on the edge, demanding 100% concentration and a constant rush of adrenalin for both the sailors and the spectators from the near capsizes, near misses and some not so near misses…
 
In race 11 (the fourth inshore race of today), approaching the windward mark Yann Guichard’s Groupe Edmond de Rothschild hit Franck Cammas’ Groupama 40 wiping out both rudders, leaving Groupama with no steerage whatsoever. Groupama 40 were heading straight for the shore at speed and for safety the crew leapt into the water to avoid the impact of hitting the sea wall – deciding they would prefer getting wet than being thrown forward on the boat and potentially injuring themselves. Groupama 40 has sustained both rudder and daggerboard damage and it will be a long night for the shore team to get them back racing tomorrow. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild has lodged a protest which the jury will hear and award redress if relevant.

 

 
Paul Campbell-James, the youngest skipper on the circuit at just 28, ensured The Wave, Muscat finished inside the top four in today’s races including the morning offshore race and the five inshore races this afternoon held off Egypt Point. Two wins this afternoon, two seconds and two third places put them top of the Extreme Sailing Series leaderboard on 85 points: “We got good starts which is a big part of today and we were pushing really hard downwind when we needed to. Sometimes we were so close to capsizing but you have to push it hard at times and back off at others.”

Yesterday, British skipper Mike Golding said he didn’t mind if they didn’t score any ‘bullets’ today, stating finishing inside the top four was more important. But his helm Leigh McMillan and the crew had other ideas – posting a win in the offshore race in the morning, then two further bullets in the penultimate and ultimate race of the day to finish in second place with 80 points. This kept the home crowd, who packed into the Extreme Bar and along the shoreline, happy as they cheered Golding’s crew all the way.

The Wave, Muscat At Cowes Week Extreme 40 Sailing (Photo by Paul Wyeth /  OC Events)

The Wave, Muscat At Cowes Week Extreme 40 Sailing (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events)

All the skippers talk about the importance of consistency but yesterday’s leader Loick Peyron on Oman Sail Masirah found his top form elusive today, only posting a third place in the second race this afternoon which leaves Peyron’s team in third place overall with 74 points – 7 points ahead of Guichard’s team in 4th.

Double Olympic Gold Medalist Roman Hagara had another day of mixed fortunes – one race win and a second place in the penultimate race, keeps them in contention in the middle of the leaderboard in 6th place, five points behind Mitch Booth’s The Ocean Racing Club who did well in this morning’s offshore finishing in second. Another frustrating day for Roland Jourdain’s Veolia Environnement who had rudder problems before the start of the first race then had to drop the mainsail between races to sort out another problem. The team unpracticed in the art of Extreme 40 racing, put a reef in early and raced cautiously throughout the afternoon, although the 1989 Formula 40 World Champion demonstrated why he clinched that title with a couple of great starts.

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