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Extreme near-shore sailing this week
THE Extreme Sailing Series, sometimes called the Formula One sea race, weighs anchor in Qingdao City from tomorrow through Friday, attracting 45 top sailers in nine teams from around the world for the near-shore races.
Over the four-day event, 24 matches will be held, giving locals and visitors an up-close look at the competition.
This is the second consecutive year for the Extreme Sailing Series to be held in the city.
Organized by the Ocean Challenge Third Pole Group, the Extreme Sailing Series is one of the four special events of the International Sailing Federation, in addition to the Volvo Ocean Race, America's Cup and World Match Racing Tour.
Each extreme sailing match involves seven to 14 40-foot-long (12.3-meter-long) boats (Extreme 40s), made of carbon fiber, with masts almost 19 meters tall and a 75-square-meter mainsail. They reach maximum speeds of 75 kilometers per hour.
The Extreme Series was first held in 2007, when it was called the Extreme 40 (Europe) Series. It was usually held from May to October annually and involved six to eight tournaments in famous tourism and sailing cities.
In 2009, the Extreme 40 (Europe) Series was promoted to Asia for the first time and in 2011 it became a global event. Qingdao is the site of the Asian tournament.
The near-shore racing gives spectators an exciting, up-close look at the sport.
The extreme races in Qingdao last year attracted 44 professional athletes from 12 countries and regions, including many Olympic champions and winners of international championships. It was broadcast by 136 international channels.
Success encouraged Qingdao to bid for the tournament in 2012, 2013 and 2014. An agreement was signed with Ocean Challenge in February.
This year, the Extreme Sailing Series consists of eight tournaments. The first was held in Oman. Qingdao is the second stop. The series then moves to Turkey, Portugal, Britain, Italy, France and Brazil.
The nine teams competing in Qingdao are from Britain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Austria and Oman. Each time has five world-class sailors and on-land security. Altogether the teams have claimed 47 world championship titles; nine individuals are Olympic athletes.
The China Team of the America's Cup will also put on a show for spectators, though it is not a competitor.
Each Extreme 40 boat has a team of four and can accommodate one guest as the "fifth man." Organizers will permit 54 guests during the Qingdao tournament. Of that number 20 have been selected from around China in open competition, 34 will be VIP guests invited by the organizer, including sponsors and celebrities.
The tournament will include a demonstration match between a boat manned by sailors and an identical vessel operated by remote control.
A sail boat exhibition will be held in Xinhai Square where the public can learn more about sailing.