Sport or circus?

We speak to Mark Turner about his progess turning the iShares Cup into the top commercial inshore sailing event
The iShares Cup raises a great number of key philosophical questions about the commercial exploitation of our sport, particularly when it comes to inshore racing. While the concept for the Extreme 40s was originally conjured up by leading cat sailors Herbie Dercksen and Mitch Booth, spearheading it today is OC boss Mark Turner. As the present arrangement stands, Dercksen’s company TornadoSport handles the supply of boats and their shore support during regatta, if for example damage occurs, while OC Events runs pretty much everything else - choosing the venues, laying on racing, handling the marketing, communications, corporate hospitality, etc. Typically inshore yacht races take place because there is a demand by sailors or skippers or owners to go racing and for yacht clubs to host events. Sponsorship and the commercial side are to a large extent deemed necessary evils to assist with paying for events. The iShares Cup effectively turns that model on its head with the simple remit of attempting to find the best ways for an inshore sailing event to entertain and thrill spectators ashore, in order to exploit the event commercially. In short it is racing made for spectators first, sailors second. How to create such non-sailing-public-friendly events is not an especially new conundrum for inshore events. Over the last two or three decades we have seen the made-for-television Ultra 30s in the UK, the pro-era of the 18ft skiffs in Sydney, the Ultimate 30s and ProSail in the States, more recently the Volvo Champions Race in Germany and various others. But compared to these the iShares Cup looks set to have more longevity as OC are into it for the long haul and it simply ticks more boxes than its predecessors. So what is the formula? It is sailed in multihulls, specifically catamarans, which while they