Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Coincidence?

All the stars seemed to be getting lined up for the new reality of a multihull America’s Cup in 2013. The latest skyrocket comes from the Extreme Sailing Series, which announced today that their European series of Extreme 40 catamaran events is potentially doubling its schedule in 2011 with events now covering Europe, Middle East, Far East and the USA.

Now in its fourth year, this European circuit has focused on serving commercially run teams since its inception, and while it does not award prize money, organizer OC Group has sought to create spectator friendly events that provide a return on investment for the team sponsors. In 2010, the circuit visited Sete, France (May 27-30), Cowes, UK (July 31- Aug 5), Kiel, Germany (Aug 26-29), Trapani, Italy (Sept 23-26), and Almeria, Spain (Oct 9-12), with the race venue often held in challenging areas that focused more on shore side spectating than traditional racing.

As the only circuit providing large sized multihull racing, the Extreme Sailing Series gained notoriety in 2008 as America’s Cup teams Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing used the racing to help prepare for the 33rd Match in February 2010. The Extreme 40 was also used more recently by BMW Oracle Racing as they developed their new vision for the 34th America’s Cup.

The 2011 Extreme Sailing Series schedule is not yet announced, but there promises to be 8 to 10 events between March and December. And while Cup teams are required to compete in the three event America’s Cup World Series schedule, which also are not yet announced (but will commence in June), it would be “more than a coincidence” if both these circuits worked together to allow full participation in both.

SIDENOTE: The events for the America’s Cup World Series in 2011 will use a new BMW Oracle Racing designed AC45 wing powered one design catamaran. Why was the much more affordable Extreme 40 not chosen instead? Apparently, the Extreme 40s were part of the early plan but it was found they could not sufficiently handle the upper wind range (events are to be sailed in 3-33 knots), and could not support wings without extending the bows.


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