Friday, 20 May 2011

Extreme 40: Excitement builds ahead of Act 3, Istanbul

The third Act of the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series™ is rapidly approaching with less than one week to go until the start in Istanbul, Turkey from the 25th to 29th May, with the event opening to the public from the 27th May

Extreme 40 racing in Qingdao. Image copyright Massimo Procopio/NiceForYou.

by Carolyn Lashmar

Istanbul is a new venue on the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series global circuit and provides a unique setting in this iconic city where East meets West. Istanbul is home to 13 million people (more than London or Paris) and is located on the Bosphorus Strait that connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea, dividing the city into a European side and an Asian, Anatolian side. The city is further divided by the Golden Horn, a natural harbour, with the Extreme 40 fleet racing on the Halic estuary separated from the harbour by the Galata Bridge, at the mouth of the Golden Horn.

Istanbul skyline from the water. Image copyright Eurasia Sports.

Act 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series is being heavily promoted with a national TV and radio advertising campaign and billboards around the city of Istanbul, and EuroAsia Sports (representing the host venue) has estimated crowds in excess of 15,000 on the public days and, potentially, up to 40,000 for the final day. The city recently hosted the F1 Grand Prix and has been nominated the European Capital of Sport in 2012. Turkey’s national terrestrial broadcaster, TRT, will be providing live race coverage on both Saturday and Sunday making Act 3 the third event in a row this year to attract live race coverage from the venue’s terrestrial broadcaster, reflecting the growing appeal of the Extreme Sailing Series to a mainstream audience.

Extreme 40 racing in Oman. Image copyright Carlo Borlenghi/

The 11 international Extreme 40 teams dispersed after the action-packed Act 2 in Qingdao, China to race onboard both mono and multihulls across the world. Some went to race the new AC45’s in New Zealand, the Nespresso Cup in Portofino, Italy and to the World Match Racing Tour in Marseille, France. The 44 elite sailors will now reconvene in Istanbul to vie for victory at Act 3: “In Istanbul, we expect a really tough battle,” said Pierre Pennec, skipper Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, who lead overall. “Not only because of the high level of the competition within the fleet, which has gone up a notch as we saw in Qingdao but also because the race course in Istanbul seems complex and very particular. It’s an inner race course with some effects from the buildings on shore so the winds will be shifty. It will be necessary to take advantage of the opportunities and to accept to give away some places to be able to stay at the top of the ranking. I have sailed through the Bosphorus during a boat delivery from Lorient to Istanbul and I’m very excited to go back to this beautiful city.”

The Golden Horn, Istanbul; where the Extreme 40 racing will be held. Image copyright Eurasia Sports.

Groupe Edmond de Rothschild is leading on 20 points overall, followed by Luna Rossa in second and Emirates Team New Zealand in third, both tied on 18 points with Red Bull Extreme Sailing and Artemis Racing hot on the heels of the current top three boats with 17 and 16 points retrospectively. Artemis Racing skipper, Terry Hutchinson, returns as resident skipper after Santiago Lange’s efforts on the helm in Qingdao.

In the second half of the leaderboard the Swiss team Alinghi is in 6th place on 13 points after stepping up their game in Chinia with five race wins, now three points clear of The Wave, Muscat on 10 points. Torvar Mirsky’s team suffered what was undoubtedly the most dramatic capsize in the history of the Extreme Sailing Series in Qingdao, view video footage:

Roland Gaebler’s Team Extreme and Sidney Gavignet’s Oman Air are tied on 7 points, whilst the Italian team NiceForYou led by Alberto Barovier (10th place, 4 points) and Team GAC Pindar skippered by Britain’s match racing champion Ian Williams (11th place, 2 points) continue to find their Extreme 40 form after two events: “We learnt a lot during the China event, we had some ups and downs but everybody was making mistakes and so were we but that is racing. We can’t wait to go back on the water and Istanbul is an amazing venue. We’ve never sailed over there, so it could be tricky but we are determined to reduce the gap and climb the ranking!” said Alberto Barovier. With the top 5 teams going to Istanbul on such close points the racing is going to be electric: “We are looking forward to the race in Istanbul,” said Red Bull Extreme Sailing skipper, Roman Hagara. “We were on the podium in Muscat, close to victory in Qindao, but after the capsize we did not find back to our system quick enough. We are prepared for Istanbul and want to finish on the podium again.”

Watch programme 1 of the 2011 TV series that saw the all-French team of Groupe Edmond de Rothschild clinch victory at Act 1, Muscat:

Extreme Sailing Series