Extreme Sailing Series™ - Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie will skipper Oman Sail’s ‘Oman Air’ Extreme 40 in the next three Acts of the Series in Trapani (Sicily), Nice (France) and Almeria (Spain). The 34-year-old already has three Olympic gold medals and one silver to his name, and is gunning for a fifth Olympic medal next year in the Finn dinghy class, if selected to represent his country in 2012.
Ainslie recently competed in the Olympic test regatta in Weymouth and will return to his Olympic ambitions at the ISAF World Champions and Finn Gold Cup in Perth, Australia at the end of year. In the meantime, he has selected the opportunity to step from one hull to two in the Extreme 40 class, and step in to the cauldron of hot competition in the Extreme Sailing Series. Multihull sailing may have been around for a few decades, but the current trend puts the multihull platform firmly at the forefront of professional sailing whether it is the America’s Cup, the new MOD70 circuit, round the world speed records (fully crewed or solo) or the Extreme Sailing Series – the ground-breaking circuit that has pioneered the Stadium sailing format since its creation in 2007 – and now a global circuit visiting three continents. 'I’m looking forward to competing in the Extreme Sailing Series,' said Ainslie. 'I’ve had the chance to watch some of the previous events, the sailing is very close and a great spectacle. This will be my first competitive experience of the circuit and it’s an exciting prospect.'
But Ainslie will feel the pressure of stepping into a new multihull class: 'There is definitely a bit of pressure stepping on the boat at this stage in the Series, and I think it is going to be a lot about me not letting the guys down as they have been doing a great job so far this year,' said Ainslie. 'We have just a couple of days training in Trapani before our first event together, so it is going to be tough going in cold, but hopefully I can pick it up quickly and we can get some good results.'
Ben Ainslie will be replacing French skipper Sidney Gavignet following his move to Oman Sail’s new Multi One Design 70 campaign. The ‘Oman Air’ Extreme 40 team lie eighth out of 11 in the overall 2011 Extreme Sailing Series rankings and Ainslie will be racing with the regular crew of bowman Nasser Al Mashari, tactician Kinley Fowler and trimmer David (Freddie) Carr.
Double Olympic gold medalist and skipper of Red Bull Extreme Sailing, Roman Hagara, commented: 'I’d like to welcome Ben Ainslie to the circuit. We both have a big Olympic background and know how to sail under pressure. This is the right place for him to show his skills on big multihulls. For sure we will have some great racing going on against each other in the coming events.'
Paul-Campbell James, winning skipper on The Wave, Muscat in the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series, now skipper of the Italian entry Luna Rossa is looking forward to the next Act in Trapani (Sicily) where the Italian team can expect some good ‘home’ support, commented: 'It’s great to have Ben in the fleet and in the winning boat from 2009. I’ve never raced him before and am fascinated to see how he gets on.'
Act 7 of the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series will be staged in Trapani on the island of Sicily starting on the 14th September with Stadium racing staged over the 16th-18th September. Extreme Sailing Series website