Extreme 40 set new Record racing along Thames

iShares set a new record from Greenwich to the O2 arena in London
It's not often that four-times Olympic Gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent is beaten to the top spot, but today he was firmly resigned to second place whilst racing on The Thames onboard the iShares Extreme 40 catamaran alongside Dame Ellen MacArthur and a host of the world's top sailors.

Matthew Pinsent joined the crew of the iShares Extreme 40, one of the fastest sailing craft on the water, in a bid to set a new record time along the Thames between Greenwich Yacht Club and the O2 Arena.

The fastest time was set by Oman Sail, a team supported by the Sultanate of Oman, who stormed the course in 9 minutes and 14 seconds, beating iShares and Matthew Pinsent into second place at 9 minutes and 28 seconds.

They were followed by round the world record-breakers Ellen MacArthur and Australian Nick Moloney from the BT team in third place with 9 minutes 57 seconds, whilst the British America's Cup TeamOrigin came fourth in 10 minutes 6 seconds.

'What an awesome place to race,' said the winning skipper on Oman Sail, Pete Cumming. 'It was really challenging to negotiate the tides as well as the winds, which were gusting up to 18 knots [22mph] - and then not get distracted by the dominance of the O2 arena and Thames Barrier. London would be a great venue for an iShares Cup regatta with fantastic spectator viewing and a promise of plenty of carnage with not much space for the boats to race around in. I really hope we'll be back here next year.'

'What a cool way to spend the morning,' said Ellen MacArthur, representing BT Team Ellen and racing with the BT Extreme 40 skipper Nick Moloney. 'It's such an opportunity to race on The Thames and a great location for a yacht club. Just ten minutes from a tube station and you can be out on the water racing these awesome catamarans.'

Matthew Pinsent was impressed by the speeds the iShares Extreme 40 reached - at 40ft long but weighing just 1.3 tonnes the boat can quickly reach speeds of up to 40 knots (46 mph). 'The acceleration on these boats is just incredible. I've been on other sailing boats before, but nothing compares to the power these can move away at from being totally stationary. It was like being in a car or motorbike, just incredible.

'London should be a sporting hub, a centre of excellence for all sports, but you can count the number of London-based sporting events on one hand. To have an event like this in the heart of the capital, with fantastic spectator viewing and plenty of action is a must.'

The iShares Extreme 40 was in the capital ahead of the UK stop on the five-event iShares Cup Extreme 40 Sailing Series which takes place for the second year running between 2-4 August at Skandia Cowes Week. It was also an opportunity to announce that London has been shortlisted as a possible venue for 2009.

Gilles Chiorri, OC Events Director, the organisers of the iShares Cup, commented on the shortlist, 'The Extreme 40 Sailing Series brings sailing to the public in a way never seen before. Never before has sailboat racing been taken so close to the public. The races are easy to understand, last no more than 20 minutes and, as has been seen so far this season, are dramatic, cheek by jowl action with near misses and capsizes.

'We have been looking at venues all over Europe and London is a clear contender. There are four sites we are considering across the capital and hope to announce the venue at the end of this year's series in September.'