Saturday, 9 October 2010

Extreme 40: It’s all for a good cause as the skippers take centre stage in Almeria for final round

Rumbo Almeria. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/OC Events.

by Emily Caroe

Eight teams are now taking centre stage here in Almería for the four-day final round of the Extreme Sailing Series™ 2010 season that starts tomorrow [Saturday, 9th October]. Whilst racing is at the forefront of their mind, the skippers have also all personally elected a charity that can share in the reward of coming first. This season’s winning boat will receive €5000 to be donated to their cause, which adds some meaning to the circuit as current leaders The Wave, Muscat’s Khamis Al Anbouri stresses: “The charity we support is called Dar Al Atta’a and does an amazing job helping poor people in Oman. They built houses for people who have been hit by cyclones and will deliver some more soon. We will be fighting hard to win and donate the prize to Dar Al Atta’a, it would be great to do something for our country.” Whether they’re humanitarian or environmental, the causes supported by Extreme 40 teams are diverse but all showcase the sailors’ involvement as well as their ability to see ‘beyond the sporting arena’.

Skippers' press conference - at least Franck Cammas and Loick Peyron are smiling at the camera! Image copyright Paul Wyeth/OC Events.

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.

Extreme 40s in Almeria. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/OC Events.

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.

The fleet, as seen from part-way up the mast on Oman Sail's Masirah. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC Events.

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.”

Extreme 40s in Almeria. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/OC Events.

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 Europe