Extreme Sailing Series™ organisers OC Sport, alongside Land Rover, one of two Series Main Partners, have now confirmed details of their most ambitious Series to date at the London Boat Show. The award-winning and 'ISAF Special Event' world tour will celebrate its eighth year on the international sailing calendar with eight iconic Host Venues spanning three continents, over eleven months and nine elite level teams representing seven nations, who will compete to win the coveted Extreme Sailing Series trophy.
The 2014 Extreme Sailing Series skippers pictured here on the Millennium Bridge in central London as part of the series launch at the 2014 London Boat Show. Ben Ainslie, Franck Cammas, Leigh McMillan, Rob Greenhalgh, Roman Hagara, Pierre Yves,Jes Gram-Hansen /Rasmus Kostner, Jérome Clerc and Seve Jarvin
Executive Chairman of OC Sport, Mark Turner, commented: '2014 is the eighth year of this the original Stadium Racing circuit, and significantly our fourth as a world tour. We’ve added two commercially important markets for our stakeholders, and retained six existing venues as well as all the teams from 2013 – we continue on an upward curve with this event which is delivering elite level top class sporting action, as well as strong commercial return on investment for all its stakeholders. That combination remains number one priority for us with this event.'
Mark Cameron, Jaguar Land Rover Global Brand Experience Director commented: 'The new season brings eight exciting global locations, all important markets for Land Rover, and this includes two completely new cities, Saint Petersburg and Sydney. Each Host Venue will provide a unique mix of excitement, challenge, accessibility and the very highest quality of competition sailing. Land Rover is immensely proud to be a Series Main Partner for the Extreme Sailing Series. The determination, courage and ability to intelligently respond to fast changing conditions are what is required to be at the top of the sport and these are all virtues shared and recognised by Land Rover and our customers.'
For the first time, Singapore will host the curtain raiser to the 2014 Series, with the first starting gun on 20th February. In Singapore the fleet will race within the confines of the ultimate city-centre stadium on the world-famous Marina Bay. From Asia, to the Middle East and the capital of the Sultanate of Oman for Act 2 19-22 March, before the fleet return to China’s ‘Olympic Sailing City’ Qingdao, China’s premier racing destination in May.
A brand new venue for 2014 is Saint Petersburg, Russia. A city with an extraordinary history and Russia’s cultural capital, it is considered to be one of the world’s most picturesque cities. It has all the ingredients for an unforgettable Act, 26-29 June.
The annual UK leg will take the fleet of high-performance catamarans to the heart of the Welsh capital in Cardiff – one of the smallest stadiums on the world tour over the UK August bank holiday weekend, 22-25 August.
From 11 September, the waters separating Asia and Europe will host Act 6 as the fleet return to the magnificent city of Istanbul, Turkey – a favourite amongst the teams with tide and wind, set against a city backdrop instantly recognised the world over, before the penultimate Act of the year at a Host Venue to be confirmed in the Mediterranean in early October.
The final Act of 2014 will be held in one of the most iconic cities in the world as the fleet head to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time, the Harbour City in Sydney Australia in December – a city with one of the world’s most famous waterfronts.
Notably absent for 2014 and not in the Extreme Sailing Series calendar is Brazil, but the tour will return in 2015, following on from the successful final 2013 Act in Florianopolis.
2014 will see one of the most exciting and competitive line-ups in the eight years of competition – America’s Cup winners, heroes of multiple Olympic Games, World Champions and round the world sailors – will go head to head on a stadium racecourse that has a reputation as one of the toughest in professional inshore sailing. All teams from 2013 will return in 2014, alongside some new faces, a testament to the long-term sustainability of the Series.
One of three British skippers signed up for 2014 is the world’s greatest Olympic sailor, who played a key role in Oracle Team USA’s astonishing victory in the 34th America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay, Sir Ben Ainslie, who is back in the Extreme Sailing Series after competing in three Acts in 2011 with Oman Air. This year Ainslie will field his own team, J.P. Morgan BAR. And the man who counts four Olympic gold medals and a silver in his trophy cabinet, plus countless world titles in the Laser and Finn classes, is itching to get back involved in the adrenaline-fuelled Extreme Sailing Series.
'I remember that it is crazy racing. Anyone who has seen the Series - or taken part in it – will tell you that the style of the courses, the speed of the boats and the number of boats on any side of the course at one time, means there is a lot of action and a lot of potential for crashes and incidents. So it makes for exciting racing and you really have to be on your toes.' Despite Ainslie being one of the most in demand sailors of his generation, he will take nothing for granted on the stadium racecourse. 'There are some strong teams that have been going at it for some time. You look at Leigh (McMillan) – he and his team have been the stand-out performers for the past two seasons. Then there’s the likes of Alinghi. So you look at the talent out there and the history they have in this Series and it feels like we’re the new kids on the block.'
Reigning champion Leigh McMillan will be back at the helm of The Wave, Muscat and he will not be giving up his crown without a serious fight, in what could be a hat-trick year in 2014 for the British Olympian 'I love the racing. It’s intense, never the same, always changing. So, I am thrilled and excited to be back in 2014 and the treble would be something I would be very proud to achieve,' commented McMillan. 'We are expecting 2014 to be quite different this year. The fleet is going to be bigger and more competitive. It’s an exciting prospect, it raises the tempo and we are in a great position to compete and to be competitive. It’s a thrill, a rush, it’s just the best place to be and in 2014 there is no better place to be than in the Extreme 40s.'
Oman Sail will field a second team from the Sultanate, Oman Air, helmed by Brit Rob Greenhalgh. Winner of the inaugural Series in 2007, Greenhalgh is not only one of the most experience Extreme 40 sailors in the fleet, his impressive CV also boasts three Volvo Ocean Races, seven Atlantic crossings, three World Championships titles and a host of European titles.
Another face returning to the starting grid is Franck Cammas at the helm of Groupama, winner of the most recent addition of the Volvo Ocean Race, who is currently campaigning for Rio 2016 in the Nacra 17 class. The Extreme Sailing Series represents a rarity to Cammas – an event he has yet to win, despite two previous attempts, finishing fourth in 2009 and fifth in 2010 – something the French legend intends to put right. 'It is very exciting for us to come back. We want to focus more on the circuit, so we can do better. It is special racing for sure. Always the best crew is the winner, so that’s important.' On board with Cammas will be two other French Nacra 17 sailors - his own crew Sophie de Turckheim and Mathieu Vandame, the 2012 F18 catamaran World Champion. They will be joined by two of his original Extreme 40 crew, Devan Le Bihan and Tanguy Cariou.
2013 Extreme Sailing Series runners up Alinghi from Switzerland will be back skippered by Ernesto Bertarelli opting for the same crew including American Morgan Larson calling the tactics in a bid to go one better in 2014. Bertarelli commented: 'Finishing second last season, with the same number of points as the winner is a great motivation for the team to fight hard again in 2014! The Series’ combination of one-design boats, short racecourses and an improving selection of venues gives everyone – teams and sponsors – an exciting experience. 2014 is Alinghi’s fifth year and I look forward to the start of the sailing season'. A second team from Switzerland, Realteam, will also return with Jérôme Clerc as skipper for their second year of competition.
The familiar double Olympic gold medal-winning duo of Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher who finished third in 2013, will return for their fifth year of competition on board Austrian Red Bull Sailing Team, while the Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team will line up for their third consecutive year, with Jes Gram Hansen and Rasmus Kostner as co-skippers and determined to finish on the Series podium after narrowly missing out in 2013.
GAC Pindar are one of the longest standing teams in the Series, but will field a brand new team in 2014 as the Australian challengers for the America’s Cup prepare to make their Stadium Racing debut, led by Seve Jarvin, who at 27 will be the youngest skipper of the fleet.
The first Act of the year will start in just over six weeks’ time, with a local boat, Team Aberdeen Singapore, already confirmed to compete meaning a full starting grid of 10 elite level teams will line up on the world famous Marina Bay.
Extreme Sailing Series ™ 2014 Host Venues:
Act 1: Singapore, 20-23 February
Act 2: Muscat, Oman 19-22 March
Act 3: Qingdao, China 1-4 May
Act 4: Saint Petersburg, Russia 26-29 June
Act 5: Cardiff, UK 22-25 August
Act 6: Istanbul, Turkey 11-14 September
Act 7: Mediterranean 2-5 October
Act 8: Sydney, Australia 11-14 December
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2014 Teams and skippers:
Team / Skipper
Alinghi (SUI) - Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI)
GAC Pindar (AUS) - Seve Jarvin (AUS)
Groupama Team France (FRA) - Franck Cammas (FRA)
J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) - Ben Ainslie (GBR)
Oman Air (OMA) - Rob Greenhalgh (GBR)
Realteam (SUI) - Jérôme Clerc (SUI)
Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) - Roman Hagara (AUT)
SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) - Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) / Rasmus Køstner (DEN)
The Wave, Muscat (OMA) - Leigh McMillan (GBR)
Extreme Sailing Series