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20 November 2009, 09:29 am
Hong Kong Hosts Spectacular Extreme 40 Display
China Team finished 4th on Day One
The China Team, competing in Extreme 40s for the first time, finished the first day of competition in equal fourth position, 11 points behind the leaders, Oman Sail Masirah

Extreme Sailing Series Asia 2009-2010
Hong Kong

Racing just metres from the shoreline on both sides of the Harbour here in Hong Kong, the six Extreme 40s put on a spectacular display for the gathered international media on day one of the inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia.
There were six races this afternoon in 12-15 knots that gusted up to 18, keeping the skippers challenged in the two lap races.

ISAF Special Event logoEarly on, however, there was disappointment for Shirley Robertson (GBR) when she was hit in a port/starboard incident by The Wave, Muscat, helmed by Paul Campbell-James (GBR) causing serious damage to the hull in the second race of the afternoon.

"It is really frustrating as we had had a good first race and were just beginning to settle down into the competition. We were lining up for a starboard entrance at the line and The Wave, Muscat was coming in for what looked like a port start and they decided to go behind us, but just accelerated straight into the side.

"The hull is split in a tricky position, right by the chainplate and the force of the impact pulled the winch off. Their spinnaker pole then attached itself to ours and we couldn't get ourselves untangled. We lay our fifth man down in the middle of the boat as we just didn't know what was going to happen next! Rumbo Almeria has been lifted out of the water by crane and we have a great team of boat builders already working on it so hopefully we'll be back out there in the morning," she concluded.

Robertson and her crew will be looking for redress as they missed four further races this afternoon.

"I'm a really happy man tonight," said Thierry Barot, skipper of the home nation Extreme 40, China Team. "To race here in the Harbour is just spectacular with the ferries, the Junks and the incredible backdrop. The level is so high that when you miss something you are pushed right to the back of the fleet. Our objective is to keep getting consistent results and to give our younger crew members some good experience - racing against these top international sailors and these tricky conditions is fantastic for them."

Nick Moloney agreed. "It was gusty out there today and the wind really kept us all on our toes. It is a great place to sail here in the harbour, but it's very technical, you have to keep on top of the shifts and learn how the wind bends around the buildings. There's lot of passing opportunities which makes the racing really exciting for those watching on the water and for us. We went from last to second in one race, and then nearly took Masirah on the line which was incredible. And we almost did a cartwheel! I'd just taken my jacket off when we nearly lost control of the boat, but that was a mistake and put it straight back on as I thought I might get pretty wet this afternoon! We are having a really great time here, a great spot to showcase these Extreme 40s and the event."

The six Extreme 40s are here in Hong Kong to demonstrate the potential of a full blown Extreme Sailing Series in future years, developed along the lines of the hugely successful European circuit.

The first day of racing today was reserved for the national and international media who came from Hong Kong, mainland China, the United Kingdom and Singapore. With informal racing in the morning to give the journalists a chance to get "hands on" the 40 foot catamarans, winching and helming, with the afternoon set aside for the official racing, where the guests were in the coveted "fifth man" spot - onboard in the heart of the action.

Matt Scott from the South China Morning Post, was buzzing when he stepped off the spectator Junk. "It was a fantastic day. We are normally invited to press conferences for events where we only have the chance to speak to people sitting at a formal head table and hear about the events. To actually get out on the water and experience it, both in the informal session and the official racing, was awesome and I thoroughly enjoyed it."

Gary Rose from the UK national press agency, PA Sport, agreed. "I was planning to be back in the office this afternoon, but after having a go in the morning session I was really keen to try it out in a real race situation. The race was superb and I will be back again this weekend. Many sports offer limited chances to speak to the competitors, but the relaxed nature of this event where people are available to speak regularly is much better for us."

Tomorrow, Saturday 21 November, will see the six Extreme 40s race in the morning from 10 - 12am and then in the afternoon the 24 sailors will be joined by up to 20 lucky youngsters who will come down to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and have a chance to experience life as a professional sailor on an international circuit.

Extreme Sailing Series Asia

The inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia was launched in October 2009 by OC Events, organisers of the award-winning Extreme Sailing Series Europe, previously known as the iShares Cup, that saw over 200,000 spectators watch this dynamic series. The 2009/10 Series will visit Hong Kong (20-24 November), Singapore (11-15 December) and Muscat, Oman (1-5 February 2010)

The highly successful European Series is the blueprint for this inaugural Asian circuit that couples a sailing event with high sporting integrity with a corporate and public entertainments package. The aim being to build the Asian series up to the same high level as its European counterpart as the series develops.

Read more here - http://www.extremesailingseriesasia.com

Extreme Sailing Series Asia
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