"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 4 July 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.
Diversity and quality
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/ Nation Skipper Name (Nation)
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 on 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.
Extreme Sailing Series Website - www.extremesailingseries.com