The final event of the five-round iShares Cup European Extreme 40 Sailing Series ended in triumph for Alinghi for the overall iShares Cup prize after a hard-fought season, rounding off a resounding success for the second season of this ground-breaking and innovative sailing entertainment event.
Over the five European events, seven different teams have stepped onto the podium, and in every race the positions have never stopped changing. Ten teams have competed throughout the season with the addition of two BMW Oracle Extreme 40s at the UK round and the French team, TWINS, racing in Hyéres.
The Extreme 40 sailors are at the top of their game competing at the Olympics, in the America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, amongst others and now the iShares Cup has become a must on their calendar: ‘The who’s who of sailing are on the Extreme 40’s. The level has lifted with the America’s Cup teams joining the circuit and spectator levels have sky-rocketed with all the guys pushing the boats to the limits and capsizes and crashes are just part of the racing. It’s great stuff!’ claimed Beijing Olympic silver medallist, Darren Bundock, helm of BT.
Over 150,000 spectators across the events in Lugano, Hyéres, Cowes, Kiel and Amsterdam have enjoyed the spectacular entertainment of the Extreme 40 fleet battling it out for supremacy on short-courses just a stone’s throw away from the shore. The circuit has attracted an unprecedented amount of media coverage around the globe, with an independently measured media value of coverage exceeding 3 million Euros by the end of the year.
Rick Andrews, Head of iShares Marketing, Europe: ‘It’s been a great season for us as Title Partner to the event – we built heavily on last year, learnt a lot last year, learnt at every event this year, and I think we’ve seen that with the feedback from our own people that the events have got better and better, with more and more people on the dockside watching the events, and overall its been a great success for us.
‘It is so innovative, it is so new that for our clients to be a part of this is just fantastic. Their friends are talking about it, the newspapers are covering it, TV is covering it and they can actually go home and say I was there!
‘This is the future of sailing and I would like to thank all the teams and partners who have helped make the event such a success. My special congratulations to Alinghi who won a closely fought battle to take the 2008 iShares Cup.’
Plans are already well advanced for the next three years, as Gilles Chiorri OC Events Director confirms: ‘We’re close to confirming venues for the European Series in 2009, but are also moving ahead with pathfinder events in the Middle-East and Australasia which a vision for stand-alone series in those regions from 2010. We expect the European series in 2009 to be bigger and better again, working more closely with the host cities bidding for the event to create an even better entertainment product.’
Over 25 teams have already expressed an interest to compete in next year’s circuit and it’s not difficult to see why. ‘We will be back next year – that is not a discussion! And we are looking forward to 2009. It’s absolutely sure that the iShares Cup circuit will be part of our marketing strategy – our sales people are already working to invite the best customers. The series in Europe is really hot and I’m pleasantly surprised that all the top sailors really want to come to the circuit, and all the credit for that goes to OC Events,’ commented Jaap Meijer, CEO Holmatro.