Going to Extremes

The Extreme Sailing Series, a worldwide racing circuit starring high-powered Extreme 40 catamarans, is on its way to the United States.Now in its fifth season, the series features 11 teams loaded with veteran sailors whose resumes include everything from world championships to the Olympics to the America’s Cup. Among the nine scheduled stops this year are the Sultanate of Oman, England’s
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
ExtremeInterior2

The Extreme Sailing Series, a worldwide racing circuit starring high-powered Extreme 40 catamarans, is on its way to the United States.

Now in its fifth season, the series features 11 teams loaded with veteran sailors whose resumes include everything from world championships to the Olympics to the America’s Cup. Among the nine scheduled stops this year are the Sultanate of Oman, England’s Isle of Wight and Boston, Massachusetts—the first time the series has come to the United States since its inception in 2007.

Races regularly attract tens of thousands of fans—many of them landlubbers—who turn out to see the fleet mix things up and enjoy the party atmosphere on shore. At the Boston regatta on June 30-July 4, spectators will be treated to everything from a live band to an air show by the Red Bull Air Force, while kids can blow off some steam on a climbing wall.

“For me, as a non-sailor, this is as exciting as it gets in sailing,” says real estate developer Joseph Fallon, whose 21-acre Fan Pier park and marina on the South Boston waterfront will host this year’s regatta. Fallon believes the series could finally strike the spark that creates a sailing audience here on par with the one that exists in Europe.

Mark Turner, executive chairman of OC ThirdPole, the company that manages the series, agrees. “The circuit has come a long way since 2007, when we had just four European events and five teams,” he says. “We are getting closer to the perfect mix of established iconic cities, premium venues, great sailing destinations and emerging markets.”

According to Turner, the Extreme Sailing Series is “changing the way sailing is seen,” bringing sailing to the people rather than the other way around. “Judging by the crowds that turn out, it’s the right way to do it,” he says, pointing to last year’s regatta at Cowes Week, which attracted about 60,000 spectators. “(Cowes Week) has been going for over 100 years, but never before have there been crowds lining the shore five deep until the Extreme Sailing Series.”

At the heart of the Extreme Sailing Series is the Extreme 40 catamaran, basically a scaled-up carbon-fiber Tornado with speed to burn. But there’s a lot more to both the series and its success than just the boat. Courses are kept short and sharp to provide maximum drama. A typical race lasts just 15 minutes and collisions are not uncommon. Then there is the “stadium” approach to the event, which keeps racing and viewing areas in close proximity so fans can hear what’s going on, as well as see it.

Of course, comparisons between the Extreme Sailing Series and the new America’s Cup “world series,” to be held aboard wing-sailed 45-foot catamarans, are inevitable. Everything from the inshore course format to the boats themselves seems to be cast from much the same mold. Two of the teams competing in this year’s Extreme Sailing Series, Artemis Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand, freely admit they are using it as a warm-up for the America’s Cup.

Turner says there’s plenty of room for both series. “We are flattered to be copied,” he says. “Multihulls are the sharp end of the sport of sailing right now…with the America’s Cup continuing in catamarans, it enhances the appeal, but it’s complementary, not a competitor.”

Traditionalists who feel such events somehow debase the sport of sailing should not be fooled by the graphics and onshore entertainment. Ultimately, the Extreme Sailing Series is about a bunch of great sailors maneuvering a bunch of great boats under extremely challenging conditions, and they’re doing it in such a way that hundreds of thousands of people around the world want to see the show. What’s wrong with that?

Related

Pestilence

Sailor-Punk and the State of Cruising

Back when I was a young man, sailing back and forth across the North Atlantic in an old fiberglass sailboat, it seemed fairly obvious to me how all that was wrong in the world might be set right. Everyone should be issued a boat at birth! Or so I declared to any who would listen ...read more

promoOnTheHorizon600x

Cats On The Horizon

Dragonfly 32 Evolution Denmark’s Quorning Boats has been systematically upgrading its line of folding, performance-cruiser trimarans in recent years as part of a long-term effort to incorporate the latest developments in yacht design, with the latest to receive this treatment ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com The double range  Every skipper knows about ranging two objects in line to keep the boat on track in a cross-current. What’s less obvious is monitoring both sides of a gap such as a harbor entrance. ...read more

FamilyCruise

Bareboating on Puget Sound

Depending on where you are, Puget Sound can look no bigger than a mountainous version of the Intracoastal Waterway. That’s what I thought when I first laid eyes on it from the lighthouse at Mukilteo Park on a sunny day last July. Then I went to the top of the iconic Space Needle ...read more

Bali4point1

Boat Review: Bali 4.1

Coming fast on the heels of its predecessor, the Bali 4.0, the Bali 4.1 adds a number of improvements, many of them inspired by feedback from owners and charterers. She’s an evolution of a concept that has already proven popular and very many benefits from its builder’s ...read more

Headsail

Ask Sail: Silencing A Rattling Headsail

Q: Our Pearson 26 has a 110-percent jib that tends to rattle very noisily at the top hank. We only bought the old boat recently, but it must have been happening for a long time, since there’s a deep groove worn inside that bronze hank. The jib has an unusually large and wide ...read more

Alerion2048x

Alerion Yachts 33, the 90 Minute Get Away

Easy to sail, luxurious, and swift; the Alerion 33 is the solution to your busy life. The intuitive, simple rig design, easy set-up, and put-away mean there’s no need to wait for crew to enjoy a weekend, a day, or an hour out sailing. Her beauty and comfort are evident in the ...read more