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silly season, smooth moves


silly season, smooth moves

It’s safe to assume that extreme chaos is reigning over the professional sailing world right now.  Top helms and trimmers are buying catamarans and trying to find time to sail them (Dean Barker and Jimmy Spithill already in the A-Cat, Terry Hutchinson rumored to be in soon), front offices are turning on the fundraising turbos, while team managers are trying to figure out what the hell their sailing teams and coaching staffs will look like if they can fund them.

As if there isn’t enough going on, the sport’s major properties and sponsorships are going to see some of the biggest upheavals of all.  Already it seems that the entire Audi MedCup fleet is for sale (ETNZ has already sold theirs) and the future of the event looks bleak, including the death of the GP 42, the World Match Racing Tour is going to have to reinvent itself without the AC as a raison d’etre, and ISAF, US Sailing, and every other douchebag that voted to give the Tornado the boot from the Olympics looks even more out of touch than they already did.

But one guy has his head out of the boat – way out of the boat, and it just happens to be the same guy that was rumored to be on the top of BMW/Oracle’s list of potential event directors for AC34.  It’s OC Events head dude Mark Turner, and it turns out he’s not going to run the AC, instead his meetings with the Defender were about trying to make the Extreme 40 work as the ‘junior league’ AC boats.  That didn’t happen – the X40s needed too much modification to easily take rigid wings and weren’t quite up to the task of racing in 35 knots – but Turner is seizing the opportunity presented by the paradigm shift to pump up the Extreme 40 circuit like it’s never seen before.

In fact, he’s so sure that the time is ripe that OC Events just bought the Extreme 40 Class from TornadoSports, including design and build rights (the boats are currently built by Marstrom in Sweden, which is unlikely to change). This means that OC will now run everything from Class management to tech support to sales and logistics to the X40 series itself.  Turner’s got a nice window before the AC45s are built and racing, and with the relatively low-cost of admission of the X40, he’s poised for serious growth and sponsorship for the one series that’s helped prove how exciting short-course cat sailing can be.  And we wish him lots of luck.

Take a minute to check out this hot promo reel for the X40 Trapani event next week.