Extreme 40s at Extreme Sailing Series Boston 2011 (Photo by George Bekris)

Extreme 40s at Extreme Sailing Series Boston 2011 (Photo by George Bekris)

21 Olympians, 36 AC campaigns, 7 circumnavigations, 47 World Championship wins – all-star 9 nation lineup for Extreme Sailing Series 2012

With less than two weeks to go until the Extreme Sailing Series™ in Muscat, Oman, the Act 1 team line-ups have been confirmed, revealing a stellar cast of top professional sailors. Following the final event of 2011 in Singapore last December, the team managers and skippers have spent the last two months securing the best crews possible to help take them to overall victory in 2012.

Once again, the team rosters include world-renowned sailors from a multitude of backgrounds representing 9 different nationalities. French sailing superstar Loick Peyron, Britain’s three-times ISAF World Match Racing Champion Ian Williams, Austria’s double-Olympic Gold medalist Roman Hagara return to the circuit, whilst American double-Olympic Gold medalist Charlie Ogletree and five-times America’s Cup sailor, Bernard Labro from France are two new faces gracing the roll-call. The teams boast an array of Olympic, America’s Cup, match racing and round the world credentials, as well as a sprinkling of ocean racing record setters. The two key cornerstones for success in this highly competitive circuit are experience and consistency and to this end 2011 runners-up Groupe Edmond de Rothschild from France and the Swiss team of Alinghi are keeping their crew changes to a minimum, whilst the two Oman Sail teams are sporting a near new line-up with only Leigh McMillan and Nasser Al Mashari retaining their places. And there are plenty of new team combinations for this season to spice up the competition!

Extreme Sailing Series Fleet (Photo by George Bekris)

Extreme Sailing Series Boston (Photo by George Bekris)

Key Stats:
21 Olympians
4 Gold Medalists + 1 Silver
50 Trans-Atlantics
36 America’s Cup campaigns
47 World Championships
28 European Championships
11 records
7 round the world circumnavigations

A new team for the year is ZouLou who will have the current superstar of sailing, Loick Peyron at the helm for Acts 1–3 prior to team owner Erik Maris taking over. One of France’s most well-known sporting exports and a legendary multihull expert who recently shaved almost 3 days off the non-stop round the world Jules Verne record, Peyron will return to the Extreme Sailing Series. In 2010 he was the skipper and helm of 4th place Oman Sail Masirah.

Peyron contrasts his recent experiences: “I can’t wait to go back to the Extreme Sailing Series with ZouLou crew, and especially to Muscat where I already spent a few weeks with the local team in 2009 and 2010. After two round the world tours in one year [Barcelona World Race and Jules Verne] I am really looking forward to going back to this intense racing amongst these top level crews.“

Groupe Edmond de Rothschild has retained their core team of Pierre Pennec on helm and Hervé Cunningham introducing two new faces on bow in the form of Bernard Labro and Jean-Christophe Mourniac who raced for another team in Singapore last December. The Swiss team Alinghi will be helmed by Ernesto Bertarelli supported by the regular Extreme 40 Alinghi crew including Tanguy Cariou, Nils Frei and Yves Detrey. Meanwhile, the renowned Austrian duo of Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher on the Red Bull Sailing Team have confirmed that Matthew Adams will be part of the regular racing crew and introduce ‘newbie’ Graeme Spence on bow who makes the step from shore team to race team.

GAC Pindar skipper Ian Williams has gone the extra mile to secure a crew who can race with him for the season: “We have assembled a really strong team this year with a great mix of different skill sets. The only real opportunities to practice will be before the first event in Oman and before Act 5 in Cardiff so having a consistent team will be crucial to improving from event to event.” His crew includes Mark Ivey, Mark Bulkeley, Adam Piggot and Andrew Walsh – all have raced with GAC Pindar for at least one event in 2011 – and this combination will be integral in continuing their upward trend on the leaderboard.

The Oman Sail teams of The Wave, Muscat and Oman Air return this year with only Olympic Tornado sailor Leigh McMillan and Nasser Al Mashari retaining their roles from last year. McMillan who skippered The Wave, Muscat into fourth place overall in 2011, has handpicked a team that includes previous Extreme 40 sailors Ed Smyth from the USA, Pete Greenhalgh who with his brother Rob won the inaugural 2007 Extreme Sailing Series, and they will be joined by newcomer Omani sailor Hashim Al Rashdi who has come up through the Oman Sail programme.

Oman Air, will be led by record setting America’s Cup sailor Morgan Larson: “I’ve followed the Extreme Sailing Series since its conception and to now be competing on the tour with such a talented group of competitors is a dream come true.” The team that last year had 3 different skippers including Britain’s Olympic star Ben Ainslie, will benefit from the Extreme 40 experience of Olympic sailor Will Howden and Omani sailor Nasser Al Mashari who raced in 2011 with Oman Air on bow, whilst double Olympic gold medalist Charlie Ogletree brings a fresh skill set.

In a test aimed at keeping opportunities open for new talent, the teams will race Act 1 with five sailors rather than four, plus a VIP guest or media person when appropriate. This additional 5th sailor must be either female or under 23, or be classified as an amateur by ISAF. Both The Wave and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild will sail with female sailors as a result – Rachel Williamson and Adeline Chatelet respectively – the first girls to race since Olympic gold medalist Shirley Robertson skippered ‘iShares’ in 2009.

An 8th team for Muscat is still to be announced.

Extreme Sailing in Boston (Photo by George Bekris)

Extreme Sailing in Boston (Photo by George Bekris)

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The script could not have been more perfectly written by the end of the penultimate day of racing at the final round of the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series™ in Almeria. Yann Guichard (Groupe Edmond de Rothschild) and Paul Campbell-James (The Wave, Muscat) will go into the final day of the final round of the season on equal points – Guichard retains the top spot on count back, scoring seven first places at this regatta opposed to Campbell-James’ six. It is now likely that the final will go to the wire with double points up for grabs in the last race.
 
The script could not have been more perfectly written by the end of the penultimate day of racing at the final round of the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series™ in Almeria. Yann Guichard (Groupe Edmond de Rothschild) and Paul Campbell-James (The Wave, Muscat) will go into the final day of the final round of the season on equal points – Guichard retains the top spot on count back, scoring seven first places at this regatta opposed to Campbell-James’ six. It is now likely that the final will go to the wire with double points up for grabs in the last race.

In contrast to yesterday’s breezy conditions that produced some incredibly close and on the edge of control racing, a gentle breeze of 5-6 knots ruffled the waters inside the port of Almeria requiring maximum concentration and good crew weight distribution to optimize boat speed. Paul Campbell-James and the boys on The Wave, Muscat knew they had to put in a strong performance today and they redeemed themselves admirably, posting two wins in the fleet races and winning the final match race of today against Guichard: “We couldn’t be happier! We are back in the game and it’s all to play for tomorrow. We are on a come back and they are going down so it should be interesting tomorrow,” said Campbell-James. “We’re pumped, it’s not only overall for this event, it’s overall for the whole series that we are playing for tomorrow. The whole year is down to one single day and I can imagine it will be decided in the last race.”

 Groupe Edmond de Rothschild came into the season as favourites, finishing second overall in 2009, but it has been the ‘young guns’ on the Omani team that have pushed them every step of the way: “It was a hard day for us but we keep the lead with the same points as The Wave, Muscat so it will be a big fight tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, we are feeling good and the competition should be high. The weather will be different tomorrow with more wind. But as usual we will take it race by race,” said Guichard. “We’re still leading the event here and that’s the main thing. The Wave had a really good day today while for us we struggled a little bit at the start.”

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The Wave, Muscat (Photo by Paul Wyeth/ OC Events )

 Desperate for an event win is the British team led by Mike Golding on Ecover Sailing Team, and they started the day with good intentions. Ecover won the first fleet race and three races later Guichard, Campbell-James and Golding were all on equal points of 76 going into the fourth race. Helmsman Leigh McMillan sailed a cracking race to put Ecover top of the leaderboard. Sadly, the glory was short-lived – a 5th and 6th place plus losing their match race scuppered their chances. However, nothing is decided yet with a full schedule of racing set for tomorrow and the game is still wide open for Ecover to get back in the mix.

 Loick Peyron and his crew on Oman Sail Masirah had an up and down day, and although they have managed to hold on to their fourth place in the event rankings, Franck Cammas (Groupama) is within three points: “It was a good day for us, we won a race and made it to the top three several times and we ended the day on a victory in our match race,” said Cammas. “We’re within reach of Masirah, Ecover in third is a bit further but tomorrow should be a great day with a nice battle.” Roman Hagara’s Red Bull Extreme Sailing team now have their work cut out for them if they want to overhaul Cammas to claim the overall fifth place that these two teams are vying for.

The home team of Rumbo Almeria skippered by Guillermo Altadill delighted the local crowds by scoring a 2nd in the first race of the day and now have 54 points, putting them in 6th place going into the final day. Not bad for a team that have had hardly any preparation or training time. Go Almeria!

Extreme Sailing Series™ Almeria Results after Day 3

1st Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, Yann Guichard, 97 points
2nd The Wave, Muscat, Paul Campbell-James, 97 points
3rd Ecover Sailing Team, Mike Golding, 91 points
4th Oman Sail Masirah, Loick Peyron, 78 points
5th Groupama 40, Franck Cammas, 75 points
6th Rumbo Almeria, Guillermo Altadill, 54 points
7th Red Bull Extreme Sailing, Roman Hagara, 49 points
8th Emirates Team New Zealand, Dean Barker, 47 points

Overall Standings Extreme Sailing Series™ 2010
Team / Skipper / Points

1st The Wave, Muscat, Paul Campbell-James, 28 points
2nd Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, Yann Guichard, 27 points
3rd Ecover Sailing Team, Mike Golding, 25 points
4th Oman Sail Masirah, Loick Peyron, 24 points
5th Groupama 40, Franck Cammas, 13 points
6th Red Bull Extreme Sailing, Roman Hagara, 13 points
7th The Ocean Racing Club, Mitch Booth, 7 points
8th Team GAC Pindar, Nick Moloney, 3 points

Oman Sail In Muscat (Photo by Lloyd Images/Oman Sail)

Oman Sail In Muscat (Photo by Lloyd Images/Oman Sail)

In just ten days time the final of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia will kick off at The Wave, Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, with six international teams competing for the inaugural title. The Series will end on a high with the Extreme Beach Party, a two day grand finale for the public over the Omani weekend.

Khamis Al Anbouri, bowman on Oman Sail Masirah, currently topping the leaderboard, is looking forward to returning to his home port. “We are pumped up and ready to take on the World!” he laughed. “It’s great to be coming back to Muscat and for the home crowd to see first hand the five other top teams competing on the circuit. They are promised an awesome spectacle.”

Six teams, racing radical 40-foot catamarans, started their battle for the inaugural title in Hong Kong at the end of November, before heading to Singapore mid-December… And now they arrive in the Sultanate of Oman for the grand final that takes place from the 1st-5th February. Global brands such as Red Bull and BT back two of the racing teams, and China has also entered a team for the first time.

Going into the deciding round, Pete Cumming (GBR) and his crew onboard Oman Sail’s Masirah have a 5-point lead over Nick Moloney’s (AUS) BT, tied with new team China Team, skippered by Thierry Barot (FRA). Just one point behind them, also tied, is The Wave, Muscat, helmed by Paul Campbell-James (GBR) with Omani powerhouse Nasser Salim Al Mashari (OMA) as his bowman and newcomer to the Extreme 40 circuit, Red Bull Extreme Sailing, skippered by double Olympic Gold medallist Roman Hagara (AUT) with his Olympic crew Hans-Peter Steinacher (AUT) as tactician. In sixth place is another double Olympic Gold Medallist, Shirley Robertson (GBR) skipper of Rumbo Almería joined by double Olympic Silver Medallist Ian Walker (GBR).

bt-by-th-martinez

Nick Moloney on BT In London (Photo by Th Martinez/OC Events)

 
The Extreme 40 multihulls are ‘speed machines’ that race close to shore on tight courses, unlike most sailing events – and in this final event they will be competing in short, exciting, 15-minute races starting each day at The Wave, Muscat from 2pm. Race Director, Gilles Chiorri (FRA) will be throwing everything at the teams including possible speed trials, slalom courses and even some match racing – an interesting prelude to the much-anticipated mammoth multihull battle between America’s Cup antagonists Alinghi and BMW ORACLE Racing. (Note: traditionally match racing is only competed in monohull boats).

His Excellency Eng. Sultan Hamdoon Al Harthi, Head of Muscat Municipality said “The Extreme Sailing Series Asia is the first of a number of high profile sporting events that will be taking place in Oman this year and we are looking forward to watching some of the world’s best sailors compete right on our shoreline. Oman has a rich maritime heritage and this event is a perfect tool to help showcase the potential of the Sultanate as a key sailing location internationally.”

The first three days of racing will be dedicated to hosting VIPs, national and international media, while the 4th and 5th February will see Al-Hail beach, to the West of the capital Muscat, transformed into the ‘Extreme Beach Party’. Each morning from 10am there will be a five-a-side football tournament featuring members of the Omani national football team, winners of the 2009 Gulf Cup of Nations, volleyball matches, the Red Bull Street Style team for the Muscat leg of the international leg of the freestyle football competition, ‘try-sailing’ sessions, as well as family activities, food stands and entertainment.
 
Roman Hagara, skipper of Red Bull Extreme Sailing, has edged up the leaderboard, finishing second overall in Singapore after a disappointing sixth at the first event in Hong Kong where they struggled to overcome gear failure problems. “We are ready to race and proud to be invited to this beautiful country. It is not our first visit and we look forward to meet a lot of friends. I am sure that we will enjoy it. We expect a competitive but fair race.”

The Asian circuit follows hot on the heels of the award-winning Extreme Sailing Series Europe that, in just three years, has become a top five fixture in the international sailing calendar. The fleet which will race in Muscat includes three double Olympic gold medallists, a double Olympic Silver Medallist, 29 World Championship titles, 9 round the world navigations, 23 Olympic games attended and 10 America’s Cup sailors.
 
OC Events, organisers of the series, has brought the circuit to the Middle East and Asia for the first time to demonstrate the potential of a full-scale series in 2010/2011. Mark Turner, CEO of OC Group, explained, “Developing a series here in the Middle East is the next step in the evolution of this ground-breaking circuit. Never before has there been top-level racing, right in the heart of cities, within metres of the shore, designed to entertain the public, media and VIP’s – not just other sailors. It’s unique for the cities and it is unique for our sport.

“The GCC region is ideal for high-integrity sailing events and we are bringing the circuit here to demonstrate to key stakeholders and the media what a full scale circuit with top level on-water action coupled with high-end VIP corporate hospitality and an all-inclusive shore side entertainment package can deliver. The Muscat event promises to be a spectacular conclusion to this inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia.”

The Extreme Sailing Series Asia: Muscat is supported by the Muscat Municipality and Oman Sail, the Ministry of Tourism backed initiative to reignite the Sultanate’s maritime heritage and inspire young Omanis to achieve their potential through sailing.

Current standings after two events:

1 – Oman Sail Masirah: Pete Cumming (GBR)
2 – BT: Nick Moloney (AUS)
3 – China Team: Thierry Barot (FRA)
4 – The Wave, Muscat: Paul Campbell-James (GBR)
5 – Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team: Roman Hagara (AUT)
6 – Rumbo Almería: Shirley Robertson (GBR)

Extreme Sailing Series Asia Fleet (Photo by Guy Nowell/OC Events)

Extreme Sailing Series Asia Fleet (Photo by Guy Nowell/OC Events)

Extreme 40 Sailing In Hong Kong (Photo by Marco Hong/OC Events )

Extreme 40 Sailing In Hong Kong (Photo by Marco Hong/OC Events )

As the inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia gets off to a successful start in Hong Kong (20-24 November), OC Events, organisers of the Extreme Sailing Series, take a look back at the highlights of the 2009 iShares Cup, revealing the key statistics from the series third season, and preview the 2010 European Extreme Sailing Series.
 
For the planned six events in 2010, four countries are already confirmed, with events taking place in the UK, Germany, France and Spain. Venue announcements will be made over the coming months, but it can be confirmed today that the final round of the Extreme Sailing Series 2010 will take place in the region of Andalucia, Spain, at the port of Almeria over the national holiday weekend in mid-October.

Almeria hosted the 2009 finalé and recently published the results of an Economic Impact Report produced by the Council of Tourism, Commerce and Sport for Andalucia confirming that the event had generated 2.7m Euros of return on their investment. Over 75,000 spectators attended the Spanish event in October this year. A total of 15,000 tourists visited the city, 92% visiting because of the event and 80% of visitors expressed their intention to return. Hotel occupancy was up by 19.2 per cent compared to the same time in 2008, with more than 606,000 overnight stays. The visitors scored the event 8.1 points out of 10, considering the event to be ‘well organised’.

Seven teams who competed in the 2009 European series have already expressed their commitment to return in 2010 ahead of the publication of the official Notice of Race.

Extreme Sailing Series Racing In Hong Kong (Photo by Guy Nowell/OC Events)

Extreme Sailing Series Racing In Hong Kong (Photo by Guy Nowell/OC Events)

The full media evaluation report of the 2009 iShares Cup will be published shortly by independent agency Havas Insight. In the meantime, enjoy some of the key statistics from the highly successful 2009 circuit that saw 48 of the world’s best sailors compete in 108 races across six European venues with only two capsizes, compared to five in 2008, but six collisions…!

To find out more about the current Extreme Sailing Series Asia, CLICK HERE…

2009 FACTS AND FIGURES:

Entries:

BT (EUR) – Nick Moloney (AUS)
Ecover (EUR) – Mike Golding (GBR)
Holmatro (NED) – Carolijn Brouwer (BEL)
iShares (EUR) – Shirley Robertson (GBR)
Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild (FRA) – Yann Guichard (FRA)
Groupama 40 (FRA) – Franck Cammas (FRA)
LUNA (FRA) – Erik Maris (FRA)
Oman Sail Masirah (OMA) – Pete Cumming (GBR)
Oman Sail Renaissance (OMA) – Loïck Peyron (FRA)
BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) – James Spithill (AUS) (Venice/Hyères only)
WIRSOL Team Germany Kiel Sailing City – Roland Gabler (GER) (Kiel only)
Rumbo Almeria – Fernando Echavarri (ESP) (Almeria only)

Sailors:

48 sailors across 12 teams
52 World Championships
17 Olympians
7 Olympic medalists (4 Gold)
27 America’s Cup participations
17 Round the World navigations
11 different nationalities

Racing:

108 races: Venice 17; Hyéres 19; Cowes 20; Kiel 19; Amsterdam 17: Almeria 16

Regatta wins: Oman Sail Masirah 4 (Hyéres, Cowes, Kiel, Almeria); Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild 2 (Venice, Amsterdam)

Number of 1st places: Oman Sail Masirah 36; Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild 19; Oman Sail Renaissance 16 (9 out of the 12 teams, all scored 1 or more race wins during the season)

Best number of race wins per venue: Oman Sail Masirah 11 (Cowes); Oman Sail Renaissance 5 (Kiel, Amsterdam); Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild 5 (Almeria)

2 capsizes: Holmatro at Cowes (practice day); Ecover at Kiel, day 1 (5 capsizes in 2008)

6 collisions: Oman Sail Renaissance hit Ecover (Hyéres); Team iShares hit spectator boat (Cowes); Oman Sail Renaissance hit WIRSOL Team Germany (Kiel) and Gitana Extreme hit WIRSOL Team Germany (Kiel); Oman Sail Renaissance hit Ecover (Amsterdam, practice day); BT hit Oman Sail Masirah (Amsterdam)

7 disqualifications: Groupama 40 (Venice); Oman Sail Renaissance (Kiel); Holmatro, Team iShares and BT (Amsterdam); LUNA and Team iShares (Almeria)

Venues:

Venice, Italy
Hyeres-TPM, France
Cowes, England
Kiel, Germany
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Almeria, Spain

(2007 x 4 rounds / 2008 x 5 rounds)

Spectators (estimated):

2009 200,000

(2007 57,000 / 2008 150,000)

VIP entertainment:

2,124 VIP guests were entertained in the VIP facilities at the six events in 2009

93% of VIP guests agreed that the iShares Cup fell within the top three events they had ever attended.

Extremem 40 Fleet At The Start Of The Round Island Race (Photo by Marco Hong/OC Events)

Extreme 40 Fleet At The Start Of The Around Island Race (Photo by Marco Hong/OC Events)

BT snatched victory by just 14 seconds in the annual Around the Island Race in Hong Kong this morning, following a 27 nautical mile marathon. The six Extreme 40s battled their way around the Island with every boat taking the lead at some point during the race. It was an amazing day for not only the sailors, but also the VIP guests onboard, who raced in the coveted ‘fifth man’ spot, including the Queen’s Grandson, Peter Phillips, onboard The Wave, Muscat.
 
              “We are totally pumped,” said BT Skipper Nick Moloney (AUS) just after they crossed the finish line just ahead of the home nation Extreme 40, China Team. “It all came down to the last 200 metres. We could see the new wind coming through and we knew that whoever gets the wind first will win. We thought China Team might catch it first, so we did panic a bit, but we edged into first place with the breeze and crossed the line first,” he grinned.

Rumbo Almeria and The Wave, Muscat (Photo BY Marco Hong/OC Events)

Rumbo Almeria and The Wave, Muscat (Photo BY Marco Hong/OC Events)

For Khamis Al Busaidi the bowman onboard Oman Sail’s Masirah, the Around the Island Race here in Hong Kong had particular resonance as he was onboard Masirah when they won Line Honours in the ‘other’ Round the Island Race around the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom. Speaking before they set off he spoke of his determination to top the podium. “I really want to win a second Around the Island title, it would be a great honour. The team is very strong and I know we have the knowledge and experience to do well, but it will all come down to the wind.”

Unfortunately for Khamis and the crew onboard Masirah, it wasn’t to be a double first for them. Despite leading practically the whole way around the Island of Hong Kong, they ground to a halt in the final leg up the Lamma Channel. Skipper Pete Cumming explained, “This race was so similar to the Round the Island Race in Cowes back in June. Plenty of wind at the start, with it dropping right off over the south side of the island. We had such a fantastic start and round the East side of the Island we did a horizon job, hammer down, 26 knots and off we flew. But the tough thing about being the lead boat is that you act as a weather station of the other Extreme 40s in the fleet. At one point we had a lead of over a mile and we thought we were home and dry, but we sailed into a hole and all the other boats saw where we were and kept away! Red Bull came down one side and Team China and BT the other and we knew that one or other team was going to take the lead from us and we couldn’t do anything. It was great to be involved, and always something amazing to look at on the shore. The guys on BT did well, but it doesn’t make it any the less frustrating!”

The Extreme 40 fleet left the start line in Victoria Harbour at 0940, the last of a fleet of over 200 boats to depart as they headed on the clockwise course around Hong Kong Island. The Extreme 40s passed within inches of their compettitors, squeezing through the smallest gaps to charge to the front of the fleet and lead the race. After leaving the Lei Yue Mun Gap, the 40 foot catamarans stretch their legs and flew hulls in the 16 knot breeze and glorious sunshine. But as the boats turned into the Southern leg, the wind dropped right off and they crawled past Stanley, often grinding to a halt as the winds dipped.

As the boats sailed into the final leg up Kowloon Harbour, they had to zigzag through the junks, traditional fishing boats and ferries heading to Macau, making the gusty breeze and choppy sea even harder to navigate as they approached the finish line.

Tan Wearn Haw, helmsman onboard China Team said, “This was a real showcase for the Series and sailing itself here in Hong Kong and I think we are starting to build on the momentum and we are getting a lot of people watching the racing and seeing the power and the speed of these boats. It’s opened up the eyes of the people and the sponsors which is really interesting for everyone.

“It’s great to race around the Island. Of course we are really disapointed that we didn’t win in the final stages, but it would be great to be back next year and not only win, but break the record!”

Hong Kong Round Island Race Fleet (Photo By Marco Hong/OC Events)

Hong Kong Round Island Race Fleet (Photo By Marco Hong/OC Events)

Racing onboard the Extreme 40s with the four professional crews were two ‘fifth men’, VIP guests sailing as part of the core crews.

The Queen’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips, Head of Group Sponsorship Asia Pacific for RBS said, “That was a fantastic opportunity to get on board an Extreme 40. It was an awesome experience and great fun. Paul and his crew were superb and gave me one hell of a ride on The Wave. Its incredible to feel the speed over the water and when you’re flying along with one hull out of the water it’s exhilarating!”

Johnny Hodgson, who was onboard the winning boat BT agreed. “That was fantastic, I’m really happy to have had the chance to race here. It’s great to have the Extreme 40s here in Hong Kong – we need to get them back next year!”

The six Extreme 40s will be back to their shorter courses tomorrow, Monday 21 November in Victoria Harbour, racing from 2 – 5pm.

Provisional Results in the Around the Island Race 22 November 2009:

Boat, Finish Time
BT, 13:05:12
China Team, 13:05:26
Oman Sail Masirah, 13:06:38
Rumbo Almeria, 13:07:50
Red Bull, 13:13:46
Muscat, The Wave, 13:16:06

muscat-misarah-by-guy-nowell-oc-events

Muscat, Misarah and (Photo by Guy Nowell . OC Events)

Racing just metres from the shoreline on both sides of the Harbour here in Hong Kong, the six Extreme 40s put on a spectacular display for the gathered international media on day 1 of the inaugural series. There were six races this afternoon in 12 – 15 knots that gusted up to 18 keeping the skippers challenged in the two lap races.
 
        Early on, however, there was disappointment for Shirley Robertson (GBR) when she was hit in a port/starboard incident by The Wave, Muscat, helmed by Paul Campbell James (GBR) causing serious damage to the hull in the second race of the afternoon. “It is really frustrating as we had had a good first race and were just beginning to settle down into the competition. We were lining up for a starboard entrance at the line and The Wave, Muscat was coming in for what looked like a port start and they decided to go behind us, but just accelerated straight into the side. The hull is split in a tricky position, right by the chainplate and the force of the impact pulled the winch off. Their spinnaker pole then attached itself to ours and we couldn’t get ourselves untangled. We lay our fifth man down in the middle of the boat as we just didn’t know what was going to happen next!

Extreme 40 Asia Series Fleet (Photo by Guy Nowell / OC Events)

Extreme 40 Asia Series Fleet (Photo by Guy Nowell / OC Events)

 “Rumbo Almeria has been lifted out of the water by crane and we have a great team of boat builders already working on it so hopefully we’ll be back out there in the morning,” she concluded. Shirley and her crew will be looking for redress as they missed four further races this afternoon.

“I’m a really happy man tonight,” said Theirry Barot, skipper of the home nation Extreme 40, China Team. “To race here in the Harbour is just spectacular with the ferries, the Junks and the incredible backdrop. The level is so high that when you miss something you are pushed right to the back of the fleet. Our objective is to keep getting consistent results and to give our younger crew members some good experience – racing against these top international sailors and these tricky conditions is fantastic for them.”

Nick Moloney agreed. “It was gusty out there today and the wind really kept us all on our toes. It is a great place to sail here in the harbour, but it’s very technical, you have to keep on top of the shifts and learn how the wind bends around the buildings. There’s lot of passing opportunities which makes the racing really exciting for those watching on the water and for us. We went from last to second in one race, and then nearly took Masirah on the line which was incredible. And we almost did a cartwheel! I’d just taken my jacket off when we nearly lost control of the boat, but that was a mistake and put it straight back on as I thought I might get pretty wet this afternoon! We are having a really great time here, a great spot to showcase these Extreme 40s and the event.”

 

The six Extreme 40s are here in Hong Kong to demonstrate the potential of a full blown Extreme Sailing Series in future years, developed along the lines of the hugely successful European circuit. The first day of racing today was reserved for the national and international media who came from Hong Kong, mainland China, the United Kingdom and Singapore. With informal racing in the morning to give the journalists a chance to get “hands on” the 40 foot catamarans, winching and helming, with the afternoon set aside for the official racing, where the guests were in the coveted “fifth man” spot – onboard in the heart of the action.

Matt Scott from the South China Morning Post, was buzzing when he stepped off the spectator Junk. “It was a fantastic day. We are normally invited to press conferences for events where we only have the chance to speak to people sitting at a formal head table and hear about the events. To actually get out on the water and experience it, both in the informal session and the official racing, was awesome and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Gary Rose from the UK national press agency, PA Sport, agreed. “I was planning to be back in the office this afternoon, but after having a go in the morning session I was really keen to try it out in a real race situation. The race was superb and I will be back again this weekend. Many sports offer limited chances to speak to the competitors, but the relaxed nature of this event where people are available to speak regularly is much better for us.”

Tomorrow, Saturday 21 November, will see the six Extreme 40s race in the morning from 10 – 12am and then in the afternoon the 24 sailors will be joined by up to 20 lucky youngsters who will come down to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and have a chance to experience life as a professional sailor on an international circuit.