Six regular circuit teams, plus two new entries: Rumbo Almería, skippered by Guillermo Altadill, and Emirates Team New Zealand, headed up by Dean Barker. It's all to play over the next five days with a mixed weather forecast that will deliver both light airs and potentially stronger winds over the weekend, the podium is wide open as is the promise of many closely fought races.
The Wave, Muscat helmed by Paul Campbell James leads the overall standings by just one point following some aggressive tactics at the Trapani event that relegated Groupe Edmond de Rothschild into second place overall. Guichard's men need to beat the young Omani team here in Almeria to grab overall victory: "My first goal is really clear, to beat The Wave Muscat but without forgetting Mike Golding or Loick Peyron because the four leading boats are really close so I think Almeria will be a big, big fight. My crew and I are confident. The last races, in the Grand Prix of Trapani at the end of September, taught us a lot and we intend to tackle this final meet of the year with a real sense of keenness and motivation."
Mike Golding's Ecover Sailing Team also lead Oman Sail Masirah by a single point and the final podium positions are really open for the taking. Further down the leaderboard, the battles continue and Franck Cammas' Groupama 40 leads Red Bull Extreme Sailing by a point.
But if the crews are determined to earn as many points as possible to try and make their way up the leaderboard, they have each been supporting a charity throughout the season, using the circuit's exposure to raise awareness for good causes.
"We live in an era where social responsibility and values play an increasingly important role," says Gilles Chiorri, Event Director. "It's great to stage a high-level sporting event and at the same time get charities involved this season which has been part of our wider vision for the Extreme Sailing Series going forward - it goes hand in hand with our sustainability policy. It's all about doing our bit too, making worthwhile causes benefit from the energy we deploy and adopting a sensible, responsible approach."
Both Groupama 40 and Red Bull Extreme Sailing have chosen to support charities working in the medical field (respectively Prader Willi France and Wings for Life), while Ecover and Groupe Edmond de Rothschild opted to help organisations dedicated to the environment (Water Aid and Peace Parks Foundation). As skipper Mike Golding explains, "We're all motivated to do as well as we can, but it's a lovely cherry on the cake to know we can help a charity as well."
The four-day final event falls over the Spanish Bank Holiday and thousands of public are expected to descend on the Race Village, having experienced the unique 'stadium' style of racing last year.
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2010 Overall Standings after Kiel
1 The Wave, Muscat 28 points
2 Groupe Edmond de Rothschild 27 points
3 Ecover Sailing Team 25 points
4 Oman Sail Masirah 24 points
5 Groupama 40 12 points
6 Red Bull Extreme Sailing 12 points
7 The Ocean Racing Club 8 points
8 Team GAC Pindar 3 points
For more information visit: www.extremesailingseries.com