The Evolution of the Yacht Race.
The Extreme Sailing Series has always delivered a great product to a specificly targeted market in Europe. In 2010, OC Thirdpole experimented with an Asian series to ‘test the waters’ in emerging markets and there has always been a sense that the tour for Extreme 40 catamarans could be a global offer.
In 2011, the Extreme series will visit not just Europe, S.E. Asia and the Middle East, it will also add a round in Turkey and the USA.
10 teams have already signed up to the series, but others may find some good arguments in the markets to go back to prospective sponsors, because the price tag of around £750,000 will be similar to the price for 5 European markets.
OC Thirdpole put on a good show in Estoril last night, but they missed one trick. As the team line ups were revealed at the end of the presentation, one skipper stood out. Torvar Mirsky, will helm one of the two Oman Sail boats in 2011. Torvar is not just a great sailor, he has the potential to bring a new audience to the sport. The young Australian already has a substantial, ‘Facebook Generation’ fanbase and a large proportion of them are women.
This is Real Sailing – ISAF says so.
One of the criticisms levelled at the Extreme Sailing Series in the past is that the cocktail of entertainment, commercialism and sailing somehow detracts from the competitive nature of the event. Despite the fact that the event attracts top professionals from all disciplines, there are some irregular formats that would have some old-style sailing folk shaking their heads.
Those people aren’t really OC’s market, but the first person on stage for the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series launch was Secretary General of ISAF – Jerome Pels. It was win-win politics. ISAF get to look like they care about something other than the Olympics and are behind one-on-one drag race sailing, and OC get to position the Extreme Sailing Series as proper sailing.
The Extreme Sailing Series Global.
OC have made some strategic decisions about which markets to take the Extreme Sailing Series to in 2011. Like F1, there will be a European series within the worldwide calendar, but also like F1, the emerging markets are cities and countries where the tourism authorities ‘get it’. Turkey especially is a very savvy choice for a sailing event. When asked about the factors considered when choosing a venue, OC Thirdpole Chairman Mark Turner said:
There needs to be wind and weather and a stadium, but there also needs to be an engaged host venue.
Curious perhaps that Cowes, UK is still on the list of host cities for 2011.
The 9 race calendar will be.
- Act 1: 22-24 February, Muscat, Oman (20-21 ‘open-water’ racing*)
- Act 2: 15-17 April, China (13-14 ‘open-water’ racing)
- Act 3: 27-29 May, Istanbul, Turkey (25-26 ‘open-water’ racing)
- Act 4: 30 June – 4 July, Boston, USA (all days public event)
- Act 5: 6-12 August, Cowes, UK (all days public event)
- Act 6: 16-18 September, Trapani, Italy (14-15 ‘open-water’ racing)
- Act 7: 30 September – 2 October, Nice, France (28-29 ‘open-water’ racing)
- Act 8: 12-16 October, Almeria, Spain (all days public event)
- Act 9: 9-11 December, Singapore (7-8 ‘open-water’ racing)
Turner has positioned the Extreme Sailing Series as unashamedly commercial. The teams have to justify their campaigns to sponsors, and the events have to make the numbers work. The objective is to make the Extreme Sailing seris the gateway to sailing for new brands and new venues.
Video interviews and more analysis will follow next week after the World Yacht Racing Forum, meanwhile there is a video replay of the 2011 launch here…