New look Extreme Sailing Series for 2011
On the eve of the World Yacht Racing Forum in Estoril, Portugal, the dramatically revamped Extreme Sailing Series was unveiled for 2011, including a global series of event and all but two of the crew line-ups being entirely new. The circuit in 2011 will feature nine events spanning three continents, over 11 months with ten teams representing eight nations.
The 2011 Extreme Sailing Series kicks off in the Sultanate of Oman in February, as part of the annual Muscat Festival, before heading to China (location to be announced separately). The gateway between Europe and Asia, and European City of Sport for 2012, Istanbul, will host the third event before the Extreme 40 fleet travels to the USA for the first time, to Boston’s waterfront in time for the July 4th celebrations.
Cowes Week welcomes the Extreme 40s for the fifth consecutive year for the fifth event, before the Series returns to the Sicilian port of Trapani, for the second consecutive year. The French round will be staged in Nice before Almería, in Andalucia, Spain hosts the penultimate event. The 2011 circuit will conclude in Singapore in mid-December.
The team line-up will once again include two-time runner-up Groupe Edmond de Rothschild with a skipper as yet unconfirmed and double Olympic Gold Medallist Roman Hagara with his Red Bull Extreme Sailing team.
With the America's Cup going catamaran, so several challengers are using the Series as an opportunity to help them in their training. Artemis Racing will be skippered by American Terry Hutchinson while Emirates Team New Zealand will be helmed by Dean Barker, who experienced Extreme 40 racing for the first time at the final event in Almería this year.
Although not challenging for the America's Cup, Alinghi will return to the Extreme Sailing after winning with Ed Baird at the helm in 2008. In 2011 the Swiss team's entry will skippered by experienced Tanguy Cariou, previously tactician on Franck Cammas' Groupama, although Ernesto Bertarelli is believed to be joining the team for a few regatta.
Perhaps the most expected of the new entries is that of Patrizio Bertelli's Luna Rossa, a team again famous for its America's Cup participation but who have said they won't be on the start line of the AC in 2013. The Italian team has snapped up last year’s winning skipper Paul Campbell-James as helm, with the boat skippered by Max Sirena, who sailed the 2000-2007 America's Cup with Luna Rossa/Prada before joining BMW Oracle Racing.
Luna Rossa is not the only new Italian entry. They will be joined by Team Nice, led by Alberto Barovier, who also previously sailed with Prada and BMW Oracle Racing.
Oman Sail are once again fielding two teams but with different skippers. Oman Air Masirah will be skippered by French Volvo Ocean Race veteran Sidney Gavignet while with Paul C-J defection to Luna Rossa, the 2010 winners, The Wave, Muscat return to defend their title, but will this time be skippered by Austalian World Match Racing Tour skipper, Torvar Mirsky.
In a similar position to Mirsky, Britain’s Ian Williams, two times winner of the World Match Racing Tour will also step on board a catamaran for the first time with Team GAC Pindar.
“The circuit has come a long way since 2007 when we had just four European events and five teams,” commented Mark Turner, Executive Chairman of organisers OC ThirdPole. “We continue to attract new top sponsored teams, sailors and, importantly, major new venues where we can showcase the sport with our game-changing ‘stadium’ format. The choice of venues for 2011 has been our core commercial team focus since the end of 2009. We are getting closer to the perfect mix of established iconic cities, premium venues, great sailing destinations and emerging (sailing) markets.
“We continue to maintain the mix of sporting integrity and entertainment. We have shown inshore sailing can actually be fun to watch for the non-sailor as well as the sailor! Part of the DNA of the circuit since the beginning, our 5th man spot remains one of the sport’s greatest assets – be it for sponsors clients, media, TV cameramen, or prizewinners drawn from the general public."
The 2011 global circuit is entering a new phase of development as part of a five year vision, after a challenging but successful 2010. Turner explains, “iShares was acquired by BlackRock at the end of 2009, which meant an end to the founding partnership of the event. We committed to running a test event in Asia and what was another successful European season in 2010 without a main partner. That was a big investment for our OC ThirdPole business, but one we believed in.
“Going forward we now have some meaningful host venue partnerships, strong teams, and a long term business plan with funding in place which will allow us to continue to develop the Extreme Sailing Series™ across all areas over the next five years - on the water, the shore-side public entertainment package and the media platforms.”
In addition to the host venue partnerships, and local sponsors for each event, OMEGA returns as Official Timekeeper, Marinepool join as Official Technical Clothing Supplier, and Pol Roger as the Official Champagne Supplier for the series. Further partners at both series and local level to be announced in the New Year.
Event Format and new Class Rules
In 2011, each event will generally consist of five days of racing as opposed to four days in 2010, and three in 2009. Each event will be true to the core aspirations of the Extreme Sailing Series ethos - mixing ‘open-water’ racing with ‘stadium’ short-course racing in front of the public, including all the various disciplines and courses used already from fleet racing to match racing, straight line duels and speed trials. A large investment will be made again in the on-water umpiring – essential for ensuring the fans know the results as they watch, rather than wait for post-event protests.
Turner comments: “We are committed to maintaining the highest sporting integrity, as we have done since 2007. Recently taking control of the Extreme 40 Class from the creators, TornadoSport, has allowed us to also develop the rules of both event and boats in unison, to ensure a more equal chance to win, and also drive down many of the costs for the teams. We’ve limited sails (and dropped the price), decreased support costs with a central Tech Zone and team, and are managing all shipping logistics centrally as well as a host of other detail changes that all affect both return on investment for team sponsors, and ensure sporting equality regardless of budget size.”
The new Class rules are published this week. A typical full budget for a competitive year long campaign will range between 450-650,000 Euros, plus a boat at around 100,000 Euros per year (charter or depreciated purchased cost over four years).
Developing further the public events side, the organiser has committed to providing an eight-hour mix of entertainment on ‘public’ days. On the water a number of support acts, like the Olympic 49er class, windsurfing and kiteboarding, will build up to the main Extreme 40 headline act. A strong local community and charity campaign in each venue will see children given the chance to get on the water each morning. Wrapped around the on-water competition will be a comprehensive on-shore entertainment programme within the race village from interactive entertainment to music, alongside bars and food outlets. Music acts will also take centre stage under the Extreme Sailing Series ‘Sailing Remixed’ banner at a number of the venues.
A global event such as this has a significant ‘footprint’. The environmental audit of the 2010 event is nearing completion, and will be used as the benchmark to improve all aspects of the event’s energy, waste and water footprint going forward. Initiatives from 2010, such as minimizing bottled water, are being analysed and evolved for 2011.
And for the fans off-site, live commentary and audio from the boats will be streamed online, with possibility of live TV in some venues still under consideration. A new iPhone ‘app’ will also be launched during the second quarter of 2011, complementing a wide range of communication channels used by the event. Video online will continue to feature strongly, via YouTube and syndicated channels – especially for the short action clips the event is best known for. The current global TV programming platform will continue to be developed, but now also in HD format.
In 2010 Extreme Sailing Series has attracted coverage in over 120 countries in 13 languages including on CNN (Intl), UK Terrestrial station Channel 4, Bloomberg (Intl), Sky Sports (UK, NZ), Fox Sport (Australia), Sport+ (France) and ESPN (Brazil), with over 60 hours of airtime for each programme in the five part series.
2011 calendar and host venues:
22-24 February, Muscat, Oman (20-21 ‘open-water’ racing*)
15-17 April, China (13-14 ‘open-water’ racing)
27-29 May, Istanbul, Turkey (25-26 ‘open-water’ racing)
30 June – 4 July, Boston, USA (all days public event)
6-12 August, Cowes, UK (all days public event)
16-18 September, Trapani, Italy (14-15 ‘open-water’ racing)
30 September – 2 October, Nice, France (28-29 ‘open-water’ racing)
12-16 October, Almeria, Spain (all days public event)
9-11 December, Singapore (7-8 ‘open-water’ racing)
* ‘open-water’ racing means that the Race Manager can use whatever part of the arena is best for racing – once the public village is open in ‘stadium’ mode there are sometimes constraints in this respect in order to ensure the fans can see all the action.
2011 confirmed teams and skippers:
Alinghi/ SUI - Tanguy Cariou (FRA)
Artemis Racing/ SWE - Terry Hutchinson (USA)
Emirates Team New Zealand/ NZL - Dean Barker (NZL)
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild/ FRA (As Yet Unknown)
Luna Rossa/ ITA - Max Sirena (ITA)
Oman Air Masirah/ OMA - Sidney Gavignet (FRA)
Red Bull Extreme Sailing/ AUT - Roman Hagara (AUT)
Team GAC Pindar/ GBR - Ian Williams (GBR)
Team Nice/ ITA - Alberto Barovier (ITA)
The Wave, Muscat/ OMA - Torvar Mirsky (AUS)
The initial entry period closed today, 13 December, however late entries may be permitted under the Notice of Race, up to a maximum of 11 boats, plus three wildcards for use by the organisation. The annual objective of Extreme Sailing Series is 8 quality teams.