The Extreme Sailing Series was in its twelfth season, with the 2018 circuit including eight events travelling through Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. But interest was waning, and after months of speculation, the era is officially over.
OC Sport, the international event organiser and rights holder which owns the Extreme Sailing Series™, has formally confirmed all operations for the global circuit have ceased.
The Extreme Sailing Series™ was established in 2007 and from the off it changed the way fans, media, and sponsors engage with sailing. Its Stadium Racing format paved the way for almost every professional sailing event that followed, combining world-class competition on short courses close to shore, with unique hospitality and innovative media output.
Launched with the design of the Extreme 40, the catamaran delivered performance to excite while sufficiently stout to recover from collisions. But when foiling elevated expectations, OC Sport was faced with a conundrum. If they provide faster boats, a bigger course would get farther away from fans. But if they didn’t, would their racing remain relevant?
Ultimately, the Extreme Sailing Series made the shift in 2016 to the growing one design GC32 catamaran class, welcoming a new generation of foiling boats. But after three more years, the world of professional racing had moved on and the circuit became a casualty.
“The Extreme Sailing Series has been a key part of our business for 12 years,” says Hervé Favre, CEO at OC Sport. “It has been a genuine pacesetter and has led the way in inshore sailing. When we launched the Series, we set out to change the way sailing is seen, fuelled by world-class competition. We wanted to make a difference to the sport and we believe we have done that.
“Regrettably, it is no longer financially viable for OC Sport to continue running the Series and so we have spent many months exploring the option of a Management-Buy-Out. Unfortunately, we couldn’t reach an agreement which was favourable for both parties involved. The result of this is the final closure of our Extreme Sailing Series business.
“Sailing continues to be a key sport for OC Sport but it was time for our strategy to change and we are now focused on the offshore side of the sport. Earlier this year we opened a new base in Lorient called ‘Le HUB’, which offers a full-service solution for international offshore sailing campaigns. And of course, we will continue to manage our established offshore events including the annual La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro, La Transat AG2R La Mondiale, and the four-yearly Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe and The Transat.
“We remain incredibly proud of all that we achieved, thank all the staff who have been dedicated to the Series for so many years and are regretful that the Series has ended in such a way.”