The UK round of the award-winning Extreme Sailing Series™ now in its sixth year will be staged in Cardiff the capital of Wales between the 24-27 August, 2012. In a three-year deal, Cardiff won the bid to host the UK event of this global sailing circuit that is only one of four events with ISAF (International Sailing Federation) Special Event status, positioning the city alongside the other seven premium international sporting venues hosting an Extreme Sailing Series Act in 2012. The host venue agreement with Cardiff City is backed by a Welsh Government grant for 2012-2014.
The Extreme 40 catamarans, raced by many of the world’s best sailors, will race on Cardiff Bay over four days with the event open to the public between the 25-27 August as the Extreme 40 fleet race in the circuit’s action packed ‘stadium’ format.
Executive chairman of the organising company behind the series, Mark Turner of OC ThirdPole, said: “The circuit continues to represent perfectly the developments in the world at large, with its balance of east and west, different cultures and languages and variety of conditions.
“Year on year the commercial value to the host cities of securing this event for the host venues has steadily increased, and this is reflected in 2012 developments. A pro-active and innovative host venue is critical to the success of the event, and we are very excited in this respect by the partnership with Cardiff and the Welsh Government.”
Cardiff Council’s Executive Member for Sport, Culture and Leisure Cllr, Nigel Howells commented: “It’s great news that Cardiff has secured the Extreme Sailing series for the next three years, as a council we will do all that we can to support the event.
“Cardiff has proved time and time again that it can play host to a variety of world class sporting events. From top class football and rugby to newer events like Extreme Sailing. Since the opening of Cardiff International White Water (CIWW) in 2010 more and more watersport events are coming to Cardiff, which is helping to attract a new audience to Cardiff and Wales.”
The 2012 Extreme Sailing Series will be staged at 8 different international venues across three continents, attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators. Alongside other significant media exposure, once again a dedicated TV series will be produced and broadcast on up to 40 channels around the world, including CNBC, Bloomberg, Channel 4 (UK), Sky (UK), Al Jazeera, Fox (Latin America, Australia Middle East), ESPN, Sport+ (France), RAI (Italy).
As we enter the final countdown to the first Act in Oman, the 2012 team line-up will be revealed this coming weekend at the Dusseldorf Boat Show.
2012 Calendar & Host Venues:
Act 1 : Muscat, Oman 28th February-2nd March
Act 2 : Qingdao, China 17th-20th April*
Act 3 : Istanbul, Turkey 7th-10th June
Act 4 : Porto, Portugal 5th-8th July
Act 5: Cardiff, UK 24th-27th August
Act 6 : Trapani, Italy 13th-16th September
Act 7 : Nice, France 18th-21st October
Act 8 : Brazil 29th November-2nd December
Due to official Chinese naval activities in the port of Qingdao, Act 2 will now be staged between 17th-20th April instead of the 19th-22nd April as previously communicated
- 9 events confirmed for 2011 circuit spanning North America, Europe, Arabia and Asia.
- Mix of venues from iconic cities and unconventional ‘stadiums’, to established sailing destinations and emerging sailing markets.
- 10 top class teams representing 8 nations, and a dozen different nationalities of sailors.
- 5-day events offering a unique mix of ‘open-water’ racing and with high octane ‘stadium’ racing – high sporting integrity, but entertaining non-sailors and sailors alike too.
- Fleet racing, figure of 8 duels, time trials, match racing and other formats of racing will continue to be used – but always short, sharp and punchy!
- ‘Money can’t buy’ VIP experiences on and off the water – pioneering 5th man spots remain a key value of the event.
- 8-hour programme of entertainment (on and off the water) on every public-facing day.
- 12 x Optimists, 8 x 49ers, and at least 3 other classes of ‘support act’ over the season including windsurfers, kiteboarders,…
- 5-year vision and key developments planned for 2011
In Detail: Changing the way sailing is seen
On the eve of the World Yacht Racing Forum in Estoril (Portugal), the Extreme Sailing Series™ unveiled a great package of interesting and varied host venues, and top level professional sailing teams and skippers for 2011. The award-winning and ‘ISAF Special Event’ circuit is going truly global as it enters its fifth year, with 9 events spanning 3 continents, over 11 months and 10 teams representing 8 nations. A core objective of the event remains to be the most commercially sound way for brands and host venues to benefit from the great offer that professional sailing can present. This philosophy has been at the heart of the product since its inception in 2006, with the vast majority of teams since 2007 being sponsorship funded. The 2011 package provides a global sponsorship platform, at a very accessible budget level, and with a queue of sailors keen to compete.
“The circuit has come a long way since 2007 when we had just 4 European events and 5 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,” he concluded.
The 2011 global circuit, which kicks off in Muscat in February 2011 and concludes in Singapore in December, 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,” said Turner.
“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,” he promised.
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.
A circuit spanning North America, Europe, Arabia and Asia
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 for Act 2 (location to be announced separately). The gateway between Europe and Asia, and European City of Sport for 2012, Istanbul, will host the third Act before the Extreme 40 fleet travels to the United States of America 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 Act 5, ahead of a return to the Sicilian port of Trapani, for the second consecutive year. The French round will be staged on Mediterranean waters in Nice before Almería, in Andalucia, Spain hosts the penultimate event and the 2011 circuit will be decided in Singapore in mid-December.
10 Teams Representing 8 Nations, with sailors from more than 12 countries, and from diverse backgrounds (Volvo Ocean Race, America’s Cup, Olympic Gold medalists, World Match Racing Tour etc..)
Diversity and quality are once again hallmarks of the Extreme Sailing Series line upTwo-times runner-up Groupe Edmond de Rothschild returns (skipper as yet unknown); new entry Luna Rossa has snapped up last year’s winning skipper Paul Campbell-James as helm, with the boat skippered by America’s Cup winning sailor, Max Sirena. Oman Air Masirah, returns, skippered by French Volvo Ocean Race veteran Sidney Gavignet; double Olympic Gold Medallist Roman Hagara enters for the second season with his Red Bull Extreme Sailing team.
Britain’s Ian Williams, two times winner of the World Match Racing Tour joins Team GAC Pindar; another new Italian entry, Team Nice, led by Alberto Barovier and 2010 winners, The Wave, Muscat return to defend their title, this time skippered by emerging star Torvar Mirsky.
Alinghi returns to the fleet after winning in 2008, skippered by experienced Extreme 40 tactician Tanguy Cariou; Paul Cayard’s Artemis Racing is skippered by American Terry Hutchinson and finally, new to the 2011 circuit will be Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Kiwi America’s Cup winner, Dean Barker, who experienced Extreme 40 racing for the first time at the final event in Almería this year.
Event Format and new Class Rules
In 2011, each Act will generally consist of five days of racing as opposed to four days in 2010, and three in 2009. Each Act 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 confirmed, “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 450k and 650k Euros, plus a boat at c.100k Euros per year (charter or depreciated purchased cost over 4 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. This particular challenge has no finish line, but the race has begun.
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 Q2, 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 60hours of airtime for each programme in the five part series.
2011 Calendar & Host Venues:
Act 1: 22-24 February, Muscat, Oman (20-21 ‘open-water’ racing*)
?Act 2: 15-17 April, China (13-14 ‘open-water’ racing)
Act 3: 27-29 May, Istanbul, Turkey (25-26 ‘open-water’ racing)
?Act 4: 30 June – 4 July, Boston, USA (all days public event)
?Act 5: 6-12 August, Cowes, UK (all days public event)?
Act 6: 16-18 September, Trapani, Italy (14-15 ‘open-water’ racing)?
Act 7: 30 September – 2 October, Nice, France (28-29 ‘open-water’ racing)
?Act 8: 12-16 October, Almeria, Spain (all days public event)?
Act 9: 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 & Skippers:
Team Name/ Nat Skipper Name (Nat.)
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)
*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.
In 30 degrees and 8-10 knots of the breeze the Sicilian town of Trapani provided a stunning backdrop for the opening day of racing on the penultimate stopover in the Extreme Sailing Series™ 2010.
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, skippered by Yann Guichard, fresh from their win in Kiel just three weeks ago, came out of the starting blocks with a bang, taking the first three bullets of the day, but The Wave, Muscat, is hot on the Frenchman’s heels, just one point behind after six races.
Seven teams are here in the Medieval town of Trapani, the fleet augmented by a local ‘wildcard’ entry from America’s Cup Strategist, Gabriele Bruni, with his team Trapani, the Sailing Seacily. “It was really great! We had three good races, then in the last three we finished last, but that’s part of the game. The most important thing is that we enjoyed ourselves on the water. The other teams are very well prepared, sometimes we were playing with them, but obviously generally a bit behind. It’s also fantastic to sail in Trapani, in front of the islands, with good breeze.”
Mike Golding’s Ecover Sailing Team, has seen some stunning performances over the past four months of racing and once again looks to be in a good position to challenge for the podium, but is threatened by the fastest man around the planet, Franck Cammas, just one point behind.
With six races completed on day one, there were four boats taking the top spot, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild with three wins, but Groupama 40, Red Bull Extreme Sailing each taking a win and The Wave, Muscat finishing the day with a first.
The Extreme Sailing Series™ Trapani continues tomorrow, Friday 24 September, with the seven teams racing right inside the harbour, in front of the public and VIP spectators, from 2pm. Our weather partner WetterWelt expects 11 to 14 knots of breeze, with potential gusts up to 20 – which given the tight situation on the leaderboard will undoubtedly make for hotly contested races.
The beautiful, medieval port of Trapani, on the western coast of Sicily, will play host to the penultimate round of the Extreme Sailing Series™ 2010 in just a few days time. Seven teams will line up on 23 September including local hero Gabriele Bruni with his ‘wildcard’ entry Trapani the Sailing Seacily.
“So far we have raced on the coastal waters of Sète, with its Mistral winds, then Cowes on the Isle of Wight, which challenged the crews with its complex, tidal conditions. At the end of August, Kiel in Germany gave the teams their tightest racecourses where over 60,000 people turned out in the pouring rain – their loyalty was rewarded with some thrilling, close quarter combat,” commented Event Director, Gilles Chiorri.
“And now Trapani, where the courses on the three public-facing race days will see the state of the art catamarans put through their paces inside the narrow confines of the medieval harbour. Not only will it be a spectacle, it will challenge the very best skippers and sailors we have on the circuit.”
French rising star, Yann Guichard, skipper of Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, currently leads the overall Extreme Sailing Series™ leaderboard, having battled his way to the top demonstrating his picture-perfect starts and his team’s impressive boat-handling skills latterly at the last event in Kiel. Guichard, on 22 points, leads by just 2 points ahead of the youngest skipper in the fleet at just 28, Paul Campbell-James and The Wave, Muscat. The all-British Ecover Sailing Team team led by, Vendée Globe star Mike Golding, is in third place one point behind Campbell-James.
Gilles Chiorri concluded, “It’s very tight at the top of the leaderboard, with just three points separating the top three boats, it’s all to play for. There isn’t one clear winner in the fleet by far, anything can happen, and the overall 2010 champion will not be decided until the final event in Andalucia.”
The first day of racing on 23 September will see the fleet head out of the harbour for some longer, classic windward/leeward courses before finishing inside the harbour ahead of the official opening ceremony in the evening.
The in-harbour, stadium-style racing in front of the public will start on the afternoon of Friday 24 September for the seven top professional teams. With 48 World Championship titles, 21 Olympics attended, 14 round the World navigations and 19 sailing records amongst them, the pressure is on amongst the teams to prove their mettle.
Mr Mimmo Turano President of the Province of Trapani said, ‘We are very pleased to have concluded this agreement for many years with a major corporation that brings another important event in Trapani for professional sailing teams.
“We are really satisfied for us to see some of the sailors, who have already competed in Trapani in the America’s Cup in 2005, gladly return to the province of Trapani as evidence of good memories that they’ll bring to the event,” he concluded.
Local Sicilian sailing hero and Olympian Gabriele Bruni will skipper the ‘home’ team, Trapani the Sailing Seacily. Bruni, who represented Italy at the Sydney Olympics in the 49er class and along with his brother, Francesco, races with the Italian America’s Cup team Azzurra, will be joined by his fellow Hobie Tiger World Champion Alberto Sonino on the helm, European Lightening and Optimist Champion Mario Noto on the bow and Giuseppe Leonardi will be the Trimmer.
“I’m really happy to be involved in this international event held in the Trapani waters. The best sailors of the world will line-up and I’m sure we’ll enjoy a lot,” commented Bruni. “Our professional crew is proud to race the Extreme Sailing Series onboard Trapani the Sailing Seacily. In the last years we spent a lot of our time racing the monohulls so it is pretty exciting to come back, especially with my old mate Alberto Sonino, to the unique emotions that only the multihulls can provide.”
Trapani is the most Western port town on the Italian island of Sicily. Twinned with the famous French sailing port of Les Sables-d’Olonne, its crystal clear waters provide beautiful sailing and cruising conditions for thousands of sailors every year and its wind conditions are famed for delivering a consistent breeze throughout the year for both cruisers and racers alike. A rich trading centre throughout the early Middle Age, and a halfway point for Tunisia and Africa, Trápani is enjoying a renewed revitalization thanks to the huge salt pans to the south of town.
Gabriele Olivo, trimmer onboard Red Bull Extreme Sailing, was the lone Italian sailor in the circuit up until now. “I’m really looking forward to sailing in Italy and especially in Sicily. Trapani has been proved in the past to be one of the best places in the world for sailing. The crowds will love the event and I’m sure it will prove to be a really popular event and it will be a fantastic week.
“I’m very happy that I won’t be the only Italian in the circuit, like in the other venues, because we are joined by a local boat skippered by Gabriele Bruni. I hope this will help to inspire the Italian sailors to these incredible and extreme races.”
Teams/Skippers entered into the Extreme Sailing Series™ Trapani:
Ecover Sailing Team (GBR) – Mike Golding (GBR)
Groupama 40 (FRA) – Franck Cammas (FRA)
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) – Yann Guichard (FRA)
Oman Sail Masirah (OMA) – Loick Peyron (FRA)
Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – Roman Hagara (AUT)
The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – Paul Campbell-James (GBR)
Trapani the Sailing Seacily (ITA) – Gabriele Bruni (ITA)
Yann Guichard and his crew on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild have won the third round of the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series™ in Kiel with a race to spare – an unusual occurrence on this circuit that normally sees every event go to the wire in the final double points race. However, there was no stopping Guichard who took control of the German event yesterday, unseating Britain’s Mike Golding from the top of the leaderboard. Today the French team scored four 1st places and two 4th places in the six fleet races: “I think that’s the best event we have ever done,” said Guichard. “We were in the match since the first day, our manoeuvres got better and better and the last two days were almost perfect. We enjoyed ourselves onboard and the results speak for themselves. Sometimes, like today, things just go well – we could have had 10 races today and I’m sure it would’ve been just as fine!”
The Extreme Sailing Series™ Kiel event, supported by Kiel.Sailing City, delivered tough and tricky racing conditions for the 9 competing teams who rose to the challenges and entertained the 65,000 strong crowd that lined the Kiellinie shoreline over the four days.
Conditions were similar to yesterday – big rain squalls bringing big gusts, then decreasing wind – and there was plenty of action on the short race courses resulting in numerous penalties. There was a collision between Red Bull Extreme Sailing and The Wave, Muscat in the third race of the day in a port/starboard incident approaching the weather mark – the impact was so loud it was heard inside the VIP enclosure! Neither team incurred major damage and carried on racing with Roman Hagara’s team awarded a 4-point redress as they sat out the next race to affect repairs to their bow on the water
The all-British team on Ecover, having led for the first two days, had to settle for 2nd place overall and that was not without a fight. At the start of the final day they were lying in third behind Oman Sail Masirah, skippered by Loick Peyron. But good fighting tactics saw them move into 2nd overall after two races which they managed to cling on to: “It was a really good event for us and, more importantly, we are moving forward our expectations in the overall series which is great,” said Golding. “We had one slightly shaky day here but we see a continuous improvement which is important. There’s no secret, it’s all about team work and training, and it’s paying now.”
The battle for 3rd place then developed between the two Omani teams of Oman Sail Masirah and The Wave, Muscat. Paul Campbell-James, skipper of The Wave, finally got the upper hand in the penultimate race moving into 3rd overall with 120 points, 1 point ahead of Masirah. In the final double points race, Loick Peyron had the advantage but ‘CJ’ fought back to finish ahead and take 3rd place on the podium.
Mid-leaderboard Mitch Booth on The Ocean Racing Club continued to dominate, finishing on equal points with Masirah, but awarded 5th place overall on countback. Red Bull Extreme Sailing, involved in so much of the action here today, finished in 6th place on 99 points, ahead of Groupama on 92 points, helmed by Tanguy Cariou whilst Franck Cammas demolished the Round Britain & Ireland course record on his Groupama VO70. A ‘home’ team battle raged between the German ‘wild card’ entries of Team Wirsol Germany, with the young skipper Tino Mittelmeier at the helm, and the Audi Sailing Team Germany which facilitates training for the 2012 Olympics. Going into the final day, only 1 point separated the two teams to Audi’s advantage, but a spectacular win in the second race of the day for Team Wirsol Germany – that sent the thousands of spectators ecstatic – helped them overhaul their compatriots.
Next stop for the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series™ is Trapani, Sicily over the 24-26 September, the penultimate event of the circuit: “I’ve never been to Trapani, we’re going to race in the harbour so maybe it will be comparable to Almeria,” commented Guichard. “At this time of the year there should be some thermal breeze so conditions should be pleasant and we can expect a good fight.” Yann Guichard now has two wins under his belt (Séte and Kiel) and Paul Campbell-James one (Cowes). “I think we clearly demonstrated that we’re a force to be reckoned with for the Overall Series victory,” said Guichard. “We’re now more than halfway into the season, and with this second event win we take a psychological advantage as well as one in terms of points, so we’re very happy.” From the performance here in Kiel it looks like Guichard’s campaign is gathering steam – can anyone stop the ‘express train’ now?
Situated on the Baltic Coast in northern Germany, this iconic sailing venue plays host to the German round of the Extreme Sailing Series™ at the halfway stage of the 2010 circuit. The city of Kiel, home to the famous Kieler Woche, is well used to hosting other international ISAF endorsed events and the crowds turn out in there thousands to watch the Extreme Sailing Series™ Kiel. In 2009, in pouring rain, over 45,000 people watched the action for the three-day event and in 2008 in glorious sunshine, over 80,000. At the 2010 event an estimated crowd of 65,000 attended the four-day event.
Extreme Sailing Series™ Kiel Overall Results
1st Groupe Edmond de Rothschild 167 points
2nd Ecover Sailing Team 142 points
3rd The Wave, Muscat 128 points
4th Oman Sail Masirah 125 points
5th The Ocean Racing Club 125 points
6th Red Bull Extreme Sailing 99 points
7th Groupama 40 92 points
8th Wirsol Team Germany 67 points
9th Audi Sailing Team Germany 61 points
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2010 Overall Standings
1st Groupe Edmond de Rothschild 22 points
2nd The Wave, Muscat 20 points
3rd Ecover Sailing Team 19 points
4th Oman Sail Masirah 17 points
5th Red Bull Extreme Sailing 10 points
6th Groupama 40 9 points
7th The Ocean Racing Club 8 points
8th Team GAC Pindar* 3 points
There was plenty of dramatic action on day two of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week today. With 18-20 knots of breeze, gusting over 20 at times, the nine teams were racing right on the edge, demanding 100% concentration and a constant rush of adrenalin for both the sailors and the spectators from the near capsizes, near misses and some not so near misses…
In race 11 (the fourth inshore race of today), approaching the windward mark Yann Guichard’s Groupe Edmond de Rothschild hit Franck Cammas’ Groupama 40 wiping out both rudders, leaving Groupama with no steerage whatsoever. Groupama 40 were heading straight for the shore at speed and for safety the crew leapt into the water to avoid the impact of hitting the sea wall – deciding they would prefer getting wet than being thrown forward on the boat and potentially injuring themselves. Groupama 40 has sustained both rudder and daggerboard damage and it will be a long night for the shore team to get them back racing tomorrow. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild has lodged a protest which the jury will hear and award redress if relevant.
Paul Campbell-James, the youngest skipper on the circuit at just 28, ensured The Wave, Muscat finished inside the top four in today’s races including the morning offshore race and the five inshore races this afternoon held off Egypt Point. Two wins this afternoon, two seconds and two third places put them top of the Extreme Sailing Series leaderboard on 85 points: “We got good starts which is a big part of today and we were pushing really hard downwind when we needed to. Sometimes we were so close to capsizing but you have to push it hard at times and back off at others.”
Yesterday, British skipper Mike Golding said he didn’t mind if they didn’t score any ‘bullets’ today, stating finishing inside the top four was more important. But his helm Leigh McMillan and the crew had other ideas – posting a win in the offshore race in the morning, then two further bullets in the penultimate and ultimate race of the day to finish in second place with 80 points. This kept the home crowd, who packed into the Extreme Bar and along the shoreline, happy as they cheered Golding’s crew all the way.
All the skippers talk about the importance of consistency but yesterday’s leader Loick Peyron on Oman Sail Masirah found his top form elusive today, only posting a third place in the second race this afternoon which leaves Peyron’s team in third place overall with 74 points – 7 points ahead of Guichard’s team in 4th.
Double Olympic Gold Medalist Roman Hagara had another day of mixed fortunes – one race win and a second place in the penultimate race, keeps them in contention in the middle of the leaderboard in 6th place, five points behind Mitch Booth’s The Ocean Racing Club who did well in this morning’s offshore finishing in second. Another frustrating day for Roland Jourdain’s Veolia Environnement who had rudder problems before the start of the first race then had to drop the mainsail between races to sort out another problem. The team unpracticed in the art of Extreme 40 racing, put a reef in early and raced cautiously throughout the afternoon, although the 1989 Formula 40 World Champion demonstrated why he clinched that title with a couple of great starts.
The opening day of the UK round of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week opened at full throttle delivering some stunning race action to the crowds lining Cowes shoreline at Egypt Point as the nine Extreme 40s took centre stage for five short course races this afternoon.
Newcomers Veolia Environnement had their first extreme drama in the very first race when, just metres after the start in the afternoon, they collided with a mooring bouy ripping the helm out of skipper Roland Jourdain’s hand and breaking the starboard rudder. It put them out of action for the day but Veolia Environnement is anticipated to be back on the start line for tomorrow.
It was Loick Peyron and his crew that put in the most consistent performance of the afternoon starting with a fifth, then three second places and a bullet in the last race to put Oman Sail Masirah at the top of the leaderboard at the end of Day 1 with 46 points: “We work together to keep consistent because that’s what count here. Our objective is to make the top 4 in each race.”
Ecover’s combined local knowledge of the Solent waters put Golding’s team in the running, finishing day 1 in second place on the leaderboard – the best result ever in his second year of campaigning in the Extreme Sailing Series: “The main thing about today is that we loved the win to begin with but the key thing for us was that we were consistent in pretty much every race and really that’s the key to it. If we can be consistent tomorrow and don’t mind if we go the whole day without a bullet so long as we’re consistently doing well in the regatta.
After the offshore morning race from the Royal Yacht Squadron to the mainland at Calshot, won by Mike Golding’s Ecover Sailing Team, the afternoon inshore racing started in earnest. After a gloomy start, the sun kicked in and lit up the race course as a solid 12-18 knots of wind built and the spectators that sat out all afternoon were rewarded for their dedication as the nine Extreme 40s scorched around the very short racecourses, often with their bows down and rudders out drawing gasps and cheers from the public. The short courses and their proximity to the shore combined with the wind ensured the pace was frenetic, forcing plenty of mistakes, keeping the umpires on their toes and the Extreme crews having to think fast on their feet.
Double Olympic Gold Medallist Roman Hagara and his Red Bull Extreme Sailing team came out of the starting blocks on a mission but the conditions proved challenging in more ways than one, as Hagara summed up: “We crashed into a rock in the first race [long offshore], won the second race and will try and forget the rest of the day! One pre-start, one penalty and some mistakes…. We know that we can do it in a better way.”
“It was right on the limit today – the whole racecourse was very, very short and the differences between the front boat and the back boat were minuscule. It’s so easy to lose places and if you make one mistake you can drop three or four places, but you can win it back if you keep your game together. The fact that everything was happening at such a frenetic pace you can’t really think at that pace as there is so much happening, it’s hard to take it all in. It’s lovely here at Cowes – great venue, great shorefront and we can see and hear the people on the shore cheering and yelling, and that’s a great feeling which is unusual in sailing.”
Hot favourites Yann Guichard’s crew on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, found the conditions testing and finished in third place on the leaderboard with 38 points. It make take Guichard’s men a while to get used to the vagaries of The Solent but no one is under-estimating their comeback.
For full results, go to http://www.extremesailingseries.com/results/cowes/
Schedule for Sunday 1 August:
Planned from 12h00 – Moth Demonstrations & Racing
First Extreme 40 start at 3pm off Egypt Point
Daily public prizegiving 5.30pm
Jakey Chan & Wills of Steel 7-11pm Free entry
Yann Guichard’s men proved to be unstoppable at the first round of the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series in Sète, France, claiming overall victory and firmly throwing down the gauntlet to the other seven teams for the remainder of the season: “We sailed really well today! On the last race, we had quite a bad start but we managed to find a little gap to go through… As I say often, the most important thing is to stay out of trouble and make less mistakes than the others. I would like to say a huge thank you to my crew because without them, we cannot do anything,” said Guichard. “I managed to put the boat in some pretty scary situations but thanks to them that doesn’t cause any trouble, so a big thank you to them.”
The forecasted Mistral conditions finally kicked in truly entertaining the crowds packed along the Môle, the beaches and the headland – an estimated 16,500 spectators watching the first event. The Extreme 40 crews were pushed to the limit in the strong gusts, teetering on the edge of disaster numerous times.
Second place on the overall podium went to Loick Peyron on Oman Sail Masirah who finished no lower than fourth in any of today’s five races propelling them ahead of Paul Campbell-James’ The Wave, Muscat: “Maybe my experience helped a little in taking second from The Wave, Muscat,” said Peyron, “But it is not just me, it is a team effort and without these guys it would be nothing. ‘CJ’ did a tremendous job and I am very happy, this is exactly what we were looking for to see both teams on the podium – it is a perfect finish. Second was the right place for us – Groupe Edmond de Rothschild were really consistent all event and deserve to win. We are pretty happy with the result, it wasn’t easy but every day was better, sometimes it was very bad but that gives us space to improve for next time.”
Third at the end of the first day of racing, then fourth on the second and third days, Groupama 40 slid down one more place on this last day of racing, following the cancellation of the final race. It’s a cruel blow but Franck Cammas and his crew have their minds on their four race victories out of the 20 contested, as well as the progress they need to make to perform better during the next events.
The day did in fact start off very well for the Groupama Team on the race zone of Sète, with a second, first, fourth and sixth place during the first four races. At that stage in the race, Groupama 40 was still in with a chance of making the top three as she was just five points shy of The Wave Muscat and had a sizeable lead over Ecover.
Next up, race management announced a further two races in a steadily increasing wind, but Groupama 40 messed up the start of the 20th race. She then managed to get back into the action, before being forced to make a last chance manoeuvre to respect the rules of priority with another boat on the final upwind leg. After having to come to a complete standstill, Franck and his crew dug deep to catch up with the backrunners, before being blocked again as they tried to round the mark. They ultimately crossed the finish line in last position, whilst their direct rival Ecover, won the race. As such Groupama 40 lost all the advantage gained over her very good opening races.
After putting in a reef for what was set to be the final race, which counts for double points, Franck Cammas and his crew prepared to give it their all to get past Ecover and hang onto her fourth place in the overall ranking.
However, that’s where their luck ran out as the race committee decided not to take any chances in a wind which could have peaked at as much as 30 knots late in the day. As a result their previous result came back to haunt them as their last place now counted for double, enabling Ecover to get ahead of Groupama 40 in the overall ranking, without even having to race.
Back alongside, Franck Cammas and his crew were clearly disappointed by the outcome: “It’s a shame because we hadn’t sailed badly and we were making steady progress over each of the twenty races contested” but they were nonetheless realistic: “The top two, Groupe Edmond de Rothshild and Oman Masirah are a notch better than us. If we want to be in a position to beat them during the next races, we’re going to have to get off to some better starts and be more consistent. That’s the strength they have right now” explained the skipper of Groupama 40.
Keenly followed by the vast number of spectators thronging around the Saint Louis jetty, especially on Sunday, this first event in the Extreme Sailing Series in Sète has been a great success with some very fine winners, who didn’t let the top spot slip away from them throughout the four days of racing.
His team is now dismantling Groupama 40, so as he can join up with her again in Lorient and then Cowes, where the next event will be held at the start of August. Meanwhile Franck Cammas will get back to the rest of his Team in Lorient to assist them with the relaunch of the maxi trimaran Groupama 3, the recent winner of the Jules Verne Trophy, aboard which he will compete in the next edition of the Route du Rhum – La Banque Postale.