Offshore Challenges in talks with Bertarelli

Talks are underway between Britain’s Mark Turner, boss of the Offshore Challenges company set up originally with Dame Ellen MacArthur, and Switzerland’s former holder of the America’s Cup, Ernesto Bertarelli, over co-operation between Turner’s Extreme Sailing Series and the D35 catamaran series in which Bertarelli competes.

Turner, whose company recently linked up with sports event company ThirdPole, expects some interest in his series for 40-foot catamaran events from America’s Cup teams. Dean Barker and Team New Zealand made its debut at the final regatta of 2010 in Almeria, Spain, earlier this month.

Isle of Wight-base Offshore Challenges has been asked to submit proposals for running D35 catamaran regattas outside Switzerland, where, in the main, they are based. These could include running the two classes in parallel.

But no financial link between the two parties has been announced and Turner insists that his events would have no effect on the new circuit of America’s Cup World Series regattas being put in place by the America’s Cup defender, BMW Oracle, whose ceo Russell Coutts was Bertarelli’s former skipper.

Turner, who was one of the candidates to run America’s Cup Race Management, will, instead, be a potential challenge manager at a meeting to be held in Paris on Friday. While many have talked about nine-figure budgets to mount a campaign in the new class of 72-foot wing sail catamarans for the next Cup in 2013,

Turner feels that a group of real enthusiasts could mount a challenge for even less than the €36m., which France’s Stephane Kandler feels would be necessary for his All4One challenge’s one, rather than two, boat effort.

No list of participants has been released for the meeting, to be led by ACRM ceo Iain Murray. New teams, including possibly one from Austria, are expected to line up alongside established groups from New Zealand, Sweden and Russia to hear about regatta programmes which begin next year in 45-foot versions of the wing cat.

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