Mitch Booth by a point
The Extreme 40 fleet were pushed to their limits in an exhilarating finale to the first ever World Championship. With winds gusting up to 20 knots blowing through the bay at Portoroz, Slovenia, the fleet proved exactly why these boats are called 'Extreme'.
The final day's racing saw a change of conditions from the rest of the five-day regatta, with a storm sweeping through Portoroz overnight bringing strong winds and rain showers. However the testing conditions were dealt with expertly by the Extreme 40 crews, made up from sailing talent from across the globe including Olympic gold medallists, world and national champions, top ocean racers and America's Cup veterans.
Just two points separated the overnight leaders, Mitch Booth's Slovenian home team The Ocean Racing Club, from their closest rivals Red Bull Extreme Sailing, led by Roman Hagara. Competition between the two teams was incredibly tight with each team boasting six wins and four seconds over the week. In order to win the overall title Booth needed to finish less than two points behind Hagara in the last and only race of the final day.
It was Team Kempinski/Great Britain, helmed by Shirley Robertson, which put the pedal to the metal leading the fleet for the whole race in a spectacular show which saw the crew take their first win of the regatta. Rounding the final windward mark, Red Bull Extreme Sailing were close behind in second with Team IWC/Holland in third and The Ocean Racing Club in fourth. It was looking like Booth and The Ocean Racing Club could be edged out of the top spot but some stylish downwind sailing from catamaran legend Booth saw them overtake Team IWC/Holland in the dying seconds to clinch third – and become the first ever Extreme 40 World Champions.
Booth, co-creator of the Extreme 40 class, was helped to victory by tactician and Portoroz resident Tomaz Copi, trimmer Sander Speet and bowman Ed van Lierde. Booth said: “Today was a great way to end the regatta. We took the wrong side of the first leg so from there we had to fight really hard. It was great to race at such a high level – these were some of the highest calibre sailors in any racing event I have sailed in. This regatta was also one of the highest quality events I have ever sailed in and it is a pleasure to win it.”
Roman Hagara, skipper of Red Bull Extreme Sailing, said: “We did a good job today. It was not easy sailing out there, we were up at 6am to check the weather and it was gusting 50 knots. In the last race we tried our best but we just couldn't catch Shirley. We had a lot of fun in Portoroz. It is a lovely place to go sailing. We will be back soon for sure.”
Holding onto third place was Andreas Hagara's Team Petras/France, early leaders of the regatta. Hagara said: “Before the start of the week we never thought we would end the regatta in third position. We are really happy to be on the podium. Halfway through the regatta we thought we could fight for the title because after three days of racing we were still in touch with Mitch and Roman.
"We had a bad fourth day with two times over the line at the start and a penalty. We just made life hard for ourselves. The whole regatta has been fantastic and we have been made to feel very welcome by The Ocean Racing Club, the Kempinski Palace Hotel and Portoroz. There has been a great feeling to the event and it will be a fantastic regatta for the future.”
Team Kempinski/Great Britain skipper Shirley Robertson, a winner of two Olympic gold medals, added: “The Extreme 40 World Championship has been such a great event. We really enjoyed Slovenia – it was great to see its beautiful coastline. The Kempinski Palace Hotel has been fantastic and we have really loved sailing here in Portoroz.”
Regatta director Alan Hillman said the inaugural Extreme World Championship had been a huge success. “We couldn't have asked for a better race to round up the first ever Extreme 40 World Championship. It was exciting, and a real spectacle, which is what this class is all about. The whole event has been a massive success. We have had some of the best sailors in the world racing this week and competition for first place has been fierce. We hope this World Championship will be the first of many – but future regattas will have a lot to live up to!”
After a prize giving ceremony on the terrace of the Kempinski Palace Hotel in Portoroz, the Extreme 40 World Championship was brought to close with a fireworks display which teams, VIPs and event organisers watched from the hotel's rooftop garden.
The inaugaral Extreme 40 World Championship was staged by The Ocean Racing Club. The next stop on the Extreme 40 calendar will be at Cowes Week when The Ocean Racing Club will look to move up the leaderboard from their current sixth position in the Extreme Sailing Series.
Final results of the Extreme 40 World Championship:
The Ocean Racing Club: 3-4-1-1-4-1-1-2-2-2-1-2-1-3 79
Red Bull Extreme Sailing: 1-1-3-4-1-2-4-4-1-1-2-1-2-2 78
Team Petras/France: 2-2-2-2-2-3-5-1-3-5-5-3-5-DNC 61
Team IWC/Holland: 5-5-5-6-3-4-2-3-4-3-4-5-3-1 49
Team Kempinski/Great Britain: 4-3-4-3-5-6-3-5-5-6-3-4-4-4 47
Team Nokia/Hungary: 6-6-6-5-6-6-6-6-6-4-6-6-6-DNC 19