Economic conditions in Europe are making things tough for commercial sailing promoters, but lying underneath the problems of scarce sponsorship dollars are structural issues with the sport of sailing – many that have been around for a long time, and some that are getting worse.
Challenges for sailing as a sport include the lack of marketable (young) stars with the means to mount professional campaigns, a lack of visible career path combined with many older (rich) sailors still reluctant to step aside.
When the Extreme 40 was invented, there were a generation of Tornado catamaran sailors who had spent considerable time and effort pursuing Olympic success. These stars provided the new Extreme Sailing Series (then iShares Cup) with a pool of talent to market the stadium sailing concept.
Before Russell Coutts had decided that Multihulls were the future of the America’s Cup, top mutihull sailors weren’t in demand by America’s Cup teams. Then Alinghi and BMW ORACLE decided they needed to learn about sailing on more than one hull fast which has benefited the Extreme Sailing Series for the past few years.
Now, with up to 15 AC45 boats planned, the America’s Cup is “hoovering up” top sailing talent. In the case of the larger teams sailors are being recruited to “sit on the bench” or be very expensive sparring partners. In the case of smaller teams with limited funding, younger sailors are being given opportunities because they are cheap.
So despite the fact that an Extreme Sailing Series team provides good value for sponsorship money invested, at around 1 Million Euros per eight event global season, the 2011 line-up is missing some of the big names that have been involved in recent years.
It’s not through lack of participants or talent. The recent Australian A-Class championship boasted an entry list of over 70 competitors. The 2011 Tornado World Championships featured 33 teams, but stepping up to an Extreme Sailing Series campaign requires a different level of commercial support.
For the price-point, there should be dozens of brands that would benefit from backing a rock-star sailor in the Extreme Sailing Series. The fact that these companies are not lining up shows how tough the sponsorship landscape is, but also the lack of understanding that still exists.
Extreme Sailing Series Announces Team Line-Up for 2012.
The sixth year of the Extreme Sailing Series™ will begin it’s World Tour in Muscat, Oman.
The tour used the Dusseldorf Boat Show to announce it’s team line up at a press event staged by Extreme Series Clothing Partner – Marinepool.
The skippers include World Match Racing Tour Champion Ian Williams (GBR), Roman Hagara (AUT), Pierre Pennec (FRA), Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI) and Morgan Larson (USA).
The Extreme Series needs a minimum of Eight teams to work, and OC Thirdpole have managed to find those 8 teams before the start of the season in Oman.
A statement by the organisers said:
Whilst the economic situation inevitably makes it harder to raise sponsorship funds for new and existing teams, the interest in the award-winning stadium sailing global circuit has never been stronger with many potential teams for 2013 already working actively to kick off their campaigns during the 2012 season – a mark of the maturity of the event as a high quality commercial sports property.
Mark Turner, OC Thirdpole Chairman said:
“It is a very positive indication of the sporting integrity and commercial value of the circuit to see so many of the highly competitive and high-profile teams sign-up again for 2012. Going into our sixth year, the level of competition will step up yet another gear, and we can expect the racing to once again be incredibly tight with Act winners only known in the closing minutes at each venue. As organisers, our mission will be to also continue to increase the commercial return for all the stakeholders, and whilst ensuring the very best racing, develop further the fan entertainment package and media value which already stepped up markedly in 2011.”
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Teams & Skippers
Team / nationality / skipper /nationality
- Alinghi SUI / Ernesto Bertarelli SUI
- GAC Pindar GBR / Ian Williams GBR
- Groupe Edmond de Rothschild FRA / Pierre Pennec FRA
- Oman Air OMA / Morgan Larson USA
- Red Bull Sailing Team AUT / Roman Hagara AUT
- The Wave, Muscat OMA / Leigh McMillan GBR
- ZouLou FRA / Erik Maris FRA
- 8th team TBA early Feb
A new name for 2012 is ZouLou, headed up by Frenchman Erik Maris and supported by an experienced multihull crew with the added caché of French sailing superstar Loick Peyron, recently returned from setting a new Jules Verne round the world record, as helmsman for at least the first two events in Muscat and Qingdao.
The all French team of Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, runners-up in both 2011 and 2010, will return for a fourth season of competition, and will again be led by skipper and helmsman Pierre Pennec.
Two teams will be representing Oman – The Wave, Muscat and Oman Air – at the helm of The Wave, Muscat is Olympic Tornado sailor Leigh McMillan whilst newcomer American Morgan Larson.
The Swiss team of Alinghi return again for a third season (winners in 2008) after finishing in 5th place overall last year, but this time there will be a new man at the helm. Ernesto Bertarelli will be both skipper and helmsman in his first full season of Extreme 40 competition.
The Austrian duo of Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher will once again be leading Red Bull Sailing Team.
British skipper, Ian Williams, and three-times ISAF World Match Racing Champion (2007, 2008 and 2011) will lead his team for a second season on GAC Pindar.