Extreme Sailing Series set for multimillion-pound revamp to give America's Cup organisers food for thought

America’s Cup teams desperate for as much competition as possible could benefit from the changes

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The Independent Online

A multimillion-pound revamp of the Extreme Sailing Series is in train for next year introducing multi-mode foiling catamarans which can skim over the inshore courses to replace the 40-foot catamarans which have been in service for almost 10 years.

The move by OC Sports, headed by Mark Turner, follows extensive consultation with existing, past, and potential teams and could also benefit America’s Cup teams desperate for as much competition as possible but not so far provided by the America’s Cup Event Authority.

Turner hopes to be able to take a decision by the end of this month and push the go button on what could be a €5m. project to build an initial fleet of eight boats. The design investigation is being led by Neil Graham. Turner is determined to continue with the stadium sailing concept which sees the boats race close to the shore on tight circuits. This means that the new boats may have to be built so that they can race with full foils but also use much smaller or no foils on the smallest tracks, such as the one on which the fleet is currently racing in Cardiff.

He does not see the objective as being a ‘road to the America’s Cup’ but the Extreme Sailing Series having its own integrity and the boats are being designed to have similar long lives, be robust, and easy to repair. They must also fit into a 40-foot container and probably cost less than €500,000 – about €50,000 a year. He can also call on the support of the West France-based Le Télégramme media and events organisation group, which has bought a 75 per cent. stake in Swiss and Isle of Wight-based OC Sports.

The breeze was up again in Cardiff, the sun out, and a festive atmosphere ashore among the spectators for the second day of the fourth 2015 regatta. Competition kicked off in 22 knots - the lively conditions helping the Extreme 40s to notch up 20-knot boat speeds as they negotiated the very tight stadium course. The top of the leaderboard became a battle between Leigh McMillan’s The Wave, Muscat and SAP Extreme Sailing team with the Omani boat snatching two firsts in the opening races. Team Turx won the 3rd race of the day (race 13) and SAP dominated the fourth with GAC Pindar, skippered by Chris Draper taking second. Stevie Morrison’s Oman Air, which did so well on the opening day, was battling it out mid-fleet, posting just one podium finish by the end of the day. Race 15 saw McMillan take another win ahead of Red Bull.

However the day belonged to British Olympian and Series veteran Chris Draper and the crew on board GAC Pindar. Draper’s influence on the team in today’s testing conditions was clear: in control when other more experienced teams were visibly battling with their Extreme 40s. Draper explained: “It was absolute glamour sailing, it was full noise on the boats, and you are kind of nursing them round but pressing them when you have to. I don’t think we had as many hairy moments as we did yesterday but everybody was still quite cautious, but you had to be because you could really get yourself into a pickle if you did something radical!"

Co-skippers Draper and eight times 18-foot Skiff World Champion Seve Jarvin finished the day with four podium results and their first Act race win, moving themselves on to the podium in third on 128 points.

In Torquay, the 39 boats in the Fiaro Solitaire fleet were able to relax with a crewed race round Torbay but Sunday sees the start of leg four to Dieppe back in solo mode with Yann Eliès leading overall with Jack Bouttell in GAC Concise best of the eight British, lying 11 with Alan Roberts (Magma Structures), ninth into Torquay, two places behind him and Sam Matson (Chatham) 12th.

Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) was first into The Hague pitstop at Scheveningen, putting it in pole position to win leg 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race. The Turkish/American team still has 480 nautical miles (nm) of the final leg of the nine-month round the world race to negotiate to Gothenburg, Sweden. It time from Lorient was 2d, 8hr, 34m since leaving Lorient, France, on Tuesday. That gave Alvimedica a 26nm advantage over the second-placed boat, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), which finished in second more than 1hr 45mins behind. The fleet restarts after 24 hours in the same order and with the same time differentials.