Extreme Sailing Series returns to Cowes
For the fifth consecutive year, the Solent will once again play host to the only UK stop on the Extreme Sailing Series. Twelve Extreme 40 catamarans, with sailors from 15 nationalities, will line up on 6 August for seven days of high-octane ‘stadium sailing’ action the circuit has become renowned for.
Emirates Team New Zealand and Artemis Racing will be present despite the unnecessary decision of America’s Cup Event Authority to choose the same dates for the ACWS event in Cascais as not just the Extreme Sailing Series, but Cowes Week and the pre-Olympic regatta in Weymouth too. Artemis Racing will bring back their skipper from Qingdao, double Olympic bronze medalist, Santiago Lange from Argentina. No-one expects these teams to be any less competitive than in Boston and Istanbul where it came down to the final race.
Aberdeen Asset Management, the new sponsor of Cowes Week, which forms the backdrop to the event, has announced its own entry skippered by British Olympic 49er class contender John Pink, joined by his regular 49er crew Rick Peacock. Pink, who will be racing for Scotland, said: “I was proud to be asked to take the helm of Aberdeen’s first Extreme 40 entry as they are incredibly exciting both to sail and to watch and I look forward to hopefully bringing home success for Aberdeen at Cowes.”
French entry Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, currently lying third, will be looking to regain their top spot on the overall podium having lost it following a disappointing fifth place at the last event in Boston.
Home crowds in Cowes will have plenty of Brits to support. Britain’s Team GAC Pindar will be hoping to continue improving and skipper Ian Williams is fresh from a second consecutive World Match Racing Tour victory in Sweden.
Britain’s Leigh McMillan, who skippers The Wave, Muscat, will be looking to capitalise on his team's first podium place in Boston when the team came third. McMillan commented: “last year in Cowes we had some insane conditions, blowing 20 to 25 knots on some days. So we are prepared for something similar again this year. Seven days of racing will probably be the hardest sailing we will do this year but I’m thrilled to be sailing again in front of the crowds.” McMillan is on particularly strong form at the moment: he left Boston and flew straight to France where he won the fifth leg of the Tour de France à la Voile.
2010 Extreme Sailing Series champion, Paul Campbell-James, will be back again in Cowes helming for Max Sirena’s Italian team Luna Rossa. Paul CJ’s introduction to the Extreme Sailing Series was back in 2008 when as stand in for Shirley Robertson, he pitchpoled J.P. Morgan Asset Management on a memorable day of action in Cowes.
Pete Cumming, skipper of 2009 winning team Oman Sail Masirah will also rejoin the sailors in Cowes, on board Niceforyou, one of two Italian teams on the circuit.
With 12 teams on the starting grid, the race courses will feel smaller than ever as the Extreme Sailing Series 2011 reaches the half way point of the 2011 global circuit.