New professional skiff tour announced

Neville Crichton and Lang Walker back F1Sail Pro Tour

Tuesday February 22nd 2005, Author: Rob Mundle, Location: Australasia
Two of Australasia’s most successful businessmen and high profile yachtsmen, supermaxi owner Neville Crichton and Farr 40 campaigner Lang Walker, have joined forces to back the world’s richest professional sailing tour, which will be launched next year.

Designed as a television event that capitalises on the high speed and high drama associated with the legendary Sydney Harbour 18ft skiff racing, the F1Sail Pro Tour is destined to take sailing to the masses. It will cost more than US$3 million annually to stage and offer at least US$150,000 in prize money.

It’s the brainchild of former IMG executive and Sydney-based sailing enthusiast, Richard Scotts, a man with an impressive record in international event organisation, promotion and management.

Now, with the backing of Crichton and Walker, what promises to be the world’s most spectacular sailing series is on its way to becoming a reality.

The F1Sail circuit will feature the 15 best crews from 15 different nations competing in a 26-race series. Each team will be backed by commercial sponsorship and the event will carry a naming rights sponsor.Seven regattas will be staged each year, four in Europe and three in the Asia/Pacific region. The schedule is for racing to start in Europe in June next year.

A television deal with the potential to reach more than 250-million households worldwide has been secured with the internationally recognised media group, Octagon-CSI.

Neville Crichton, a New Zealander who among other things heads a hugely successful motor vehicle import business in Australia, is best known for his 70-plus line honours wins on the international circuit with his supermaxi Alfa Romeo. He sees F1Sail bringing a completely new dimension to the sport.

“I believe F1Sail will set the benchmark for high performance sailing around the world,” said Crichton. “It will have the speed of the biggest yachts without the huge costs, and it will be incredibly spectacular. The skiffs will be crewed by the most talented sailors in the world.”

Walker, one of Australia’s most successful property developers, is equally enthusiastic about the project. “F1Sail has everything; exoticvenues,world class athletes and extreme entertainment.”

Scotts believes F1Sail has the potential to change the face of sailing forever: “This is going to be sailing with attitude. Unlike your traditional sailing broadcasts where the boats compete even in light winds, F1Sail will be fast and furious. The emphasis will be on high speed, high drama and maximum entertainment. It’s a case of sailing meets extreme sport. The only way we are going to get sailing ahead of other high performance sports is to create a dynamic television product,and that’s exactly what we are doing with F1Sail. We will only stage regattas in high wind regions around the world, venues where we are guaranteed winds of 15-knots or more.“

“Our plan is for the viewer to have a unique new sporting experience. By using the very latest television production techniques, including on-board digital technology, we will be taking them into the driver’s seat.”

Already the series is attracting interest from around the world.More than 50 teams have registered an interest in competing. They come from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and USA.

The 18ft skiff is seen as one of the world’s fastest and most spectacular single-hulled sailboats. The F1Sail skiffs will be identical in design and carry an impressive 1200sq ft of sail. They will be capable of achieving speeds of near 30 knots sailing downwind.

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