Mark Lloyd / Oman Sail

Let the cat dogfight begin

Extreme 40 season gets underway in Sete tomorrow

Wednesday May 26th 2010, Author: Emily Caroe, Location: France

The eight Extreme 40s lined up in Sète, their crews completing their final shakedown before the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series kicks off tomorrow, Thursday 27 May, for the opening day of racing. The first day is a media day with all fifth-man spots in the point-scoring races reserved for the visiting international and national media, with the main event starting on Friday 28 May. The event will comprise four days of racing, close to shore beneath the city's harbour walls, with courses designed to test the skippers and their tacticians on their skill and tenacity around the tight courses.

The forecast shows a good breeze for the opening event with the winds building over the weekend and up to 19 knots forecast for Sunday.

Mitch Booth, Skipper of The Ocean Racing Club, has revealed his secret weapon in the form of his former Holmatro crew joining him for the new Slovenian entry. Booth will be joined by Ed Van Lierde on the bow, his Tornado crew Pim Nieuwenhuis as Tactician and Sander Speet as the Trimmer - all from The Netherlands.

New for the 2010 circuit, each team has nominated a charity to support with the overall team winning a 5,000 euro donation for their chosen charity. From the environment to the oceans, medical research to a children's charity, each team now has an additional prize to win, apart from the overall trophy.

Some of the nominations are very personal to the skippers and crews. MS Australia has been chosen by The Ocean Racing Club skipper Mitch Booth. "When I was just 4 years old my mother taught me to sail on Pittwater near Sydney. She suffers from MS and has not been able to sail for over 10 years. MS Australia is a worthy charity in pursuit of a cure."

Red Bull Extreme Sailing will be battling it out for Wings for Life, the Spinal Cord Research Foundation. This privately funded non-profit organisation follows the principal aim of promoting research worldwide in order to expedite scientific and clinical progress towards a putative cure for Spinal Cord Injury.

Groupe Edmond de Rothschild is concentrating on a project actively supported by The Edmond and Benjamin de Rothschild Foundations with a mission for sustainable development, environmental protection, education and training with their nominated charity the Peace Parks Foundation .

Team GAC Pindar, is supporting Earthwatch, an international environmental charity committed to conserving the diversity and integrity of life on earth. Supported by Pindar since 2007, Chairman of Team Pindar, Andrew Pindar OBE, commented, "Earthwatch is a fantastic charity, which supports scientific research and engages people in environmental education around the World. We hope that our entry in the Extreme Sailing Series will offer another great opportunity to raise awareness of Earthwatch's Sustainable Oceans Programmes and the ongoing threats to the world's coastal ecosystems and marine species."

Groupama 40 is supporting research into a rare and little known disease: Prader-Willi Syndrome. The Groupama Health Foundation is supporting the association by organising doctor and family days and supporting their research by awarding a grant to a young researcher who is studying the mechanism behind the pathology in the hope of finding some therapies. On Saturday, two researchers supported by the Groupama Health Foundation, Cecile Delettre and Anne Rieusset, as well as the President of the Prader Willi Syndrome Association, Francois Besnier, will be guests of the team for the day. Franck Cammas commented, "I'm always proud to be able to share my trips out on the water with others. Our sport inspires people and helping an association which is battling day in and day out against a rare disease is all the more motivating for me."

Mike Golding and his Ecover Sailing Team is racing in support of Water Aid, a charity with a mission to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world's poorest communities. Golding commented, "As a sailor I am increasingly aware of the impact that our actions have upon our oceans. To our team sponsor Ecover, water is also fundamental. They work hard to make sure their products have the minimum impact on aquatic environment, and respect the water they use when they make their products. It's easy to forget that the water cycle is global, so what we do, for example, here in the UK has a wider effect around the globe."

The final two charities hail from the Sultanate of Oman. The Wave, Muscat is supporting Dar Al Atta'a, a Muscat-based non-profit voluntary organisation set up in 2002 to better the lives of the less privileged within Oman. Activities include a family welfare programme to provide food, shelter and clothing to under-privileged families to a hospital programme to provide entertainment activities for sick children. Their stablemate, Oman Sail Masirah, is supporting The Environment Socity of Oman, the first of its kind in Oman, promoting conservation and environmental awareness in all sectors of society. Team Manager and Trimmer, Pete Cumming commented, "Each and every one of us has a responsibility to care for the world we live in. The Environment Society of Oman is the first of its kind in the Sultanate and the work they are doing is inspiring: we are proud to be supporting them."

The 5,000 euro prize for the winning team will be presented at the final event in Almeria, on 12 October 2010.

The 2010 Official Series Magazine, packed with news, views and reviews, can be downloaded here.

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