Emirates Team New Zealand, Booth and Altadill join the party
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."
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. Altadill commented: "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, who has previously helmed Nick Moloney's BT Extreme 40.
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 Extreme Sailing 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