Inside The Series
About The Racing
Each Act will be true to the core aspirations of the Extreme Sailing Series™ ethos – high sporting integrity combined with entertainment for the public – delivering a mix of one day of ‘open-water’ outside the confines of the ‘stadium’ and three days of ‘Stadium Racing’ on short-courses right in front of the public, including all the various disciplines and courses already used from fleet and group racing to match racing, straight line duels and speed trials. On-water umpiring is a key factor as the referees [like on a football pitch] monitor the racing for fair-play issuing penalties and for serious infringements, possible black-flag disqualification.
The start is one of the most exciting parts of any sailing race and with such short races, each race lasts between 10-12 minutes, a good start is a vital part of the winning tactics. Generally, it will be more advantageous to start at one end of the line (either nearer the committee boat or the buoy), due to factors such as the wind direction, the tide, and who has right of way. The more aggressive crews may be fighting to start at their chosen end of the line, while more conservative crews may start further away from the jostling boats — but they are likely to have the benefit of ‘clean’ undisturbed wind.
The starting procedure
The races are started with a four-minute countdown set to music – even the sailors listen to it to time their runs to the start line! Giant flags displaying the number of minutes remaining until the start are flown from the Race Committee platform, hoisted in a 4 - 3 - 2 – 1 – and Go! sequence.
If the race committee see any part of the hulls are over the line when the starting gun goes then there will be a loud sound signal. In that case the boat or boats judged over the start line have to go back and re-cross the start line again, keeping out of the way of the other teams. Restarting is a substantial penalty, so the teams avoid this at all costs if possible!
Depending on the number of boats, venue, and wind conditions, the race organisers can decide to run racing over different shape courses around a number of large, easily identifiable coloured inflatable race marks. The sailors will know which course to sail by the flags flown from the committee boat and announcements over the radio.
When the boats are sailing upwind they will be zig-zagging as they tack towards the first mark, then when they sail away from the wind the crew will hoist the huge gennaker sail at the front of the boat using just man-power alone and their heart-rates will be pumping.
During the racing
The sailors will be shouting at other boats to try and use the racing rules to outwit each other, especially at the mark roundings. If any skipper thinks another boat has infringed one of the racing rules they can wave a yellow and red diagonally striped flag and shout “protest!”. Umpires are on the water and work like football referees — they decide if any boats have committed a foul and can give penalties (the boat has to complete a penalty turn, bit like a drive-through penalty in F1 racing). The umpire signifies a penalty by whistling and pointing a red or yellow flag, depending on the type of penalty, at the boat that has committed the foul. If the umpire thinks no foul has been committed they blow a whistle and raise a green and white flag. If there is a really bad foul the umpires can show a black flag resulting in instant disqualification!
First past the post wins - it's as simple as that! The racing is scored using a 'high point' system, so if there are 10 boats racing in an Act then the winner scores 10 points, the second placed boat gets 9 points, the third 8 points and so on. A disqualified team gets zero! As does a boat that does not start or finish a race. The last race of each Act scores double points, putting the pressure on for a great finale. The overall regatta points are also calculated on a high-scoring system regardless of the number of boats in the event ie first overall has 10 points. The team with the highest number of points across all the regattas wins the overall Extreme Sailing Series to claim the overall Series trophy.
An event for all
Taking control of the Extreme 40 Class in 2010 from the creators, TornadoSport, has allowed the organisers to develop the rules of both the event and boats in unison, to ensure a more equal chance to win, and also drive down many of the costs for the teams. Limiting the number of sails each team can have and reducing the price, decreased support costs with a central Tech Zone and team, and managing all shipping logistics centrally are some examples of both return on investment for team sponsors, and ensure sporting equality regardless of budget size.
A typical budget for a competitive year long campaign will range between 650k and 850k Euros. Charters range between 100K - 150K per year, second hand Purchase prices range 250K - 300K and a new build Extreme 40, ready to sail is €379500.
Developing further the public events side, the organiser has committed to providing an eight-hour mix of entertainment on ‘public’ days. On the water a number of support acts, like the Olympic 49er class, windsurfing and kite boarding, will build up to the main Extreme 40 headline act. A strong local community and charity campaign in each venue will see children given the chance to get on the water each morning. Wrapped around the on-water competition will be a comprehensive on-shore entertainment programme within the race village from interactive entertainment to music, alongside bars and food outlets.
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