Volvo Extreme 40s take to the water in Rio this week for second grand prix event 21/3/06

The Volvo Extreme 40 Catamarans will be unleashed this week when they participate in the second Volvo Extreme 40 Grand Prix Series during the Rio de Janeiro stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06.

Whilst the shore teams are busy working on the Volvo Open 70s after a gruelling 6,700 nautical mile leg four from Wellington to Rio, in preparation for the in-port race on Saturday, the Volvo Extreme 40s will provide the entertainment out on the water.

The Volvo Extreme 40, a strict one-design catamaran has already become one of the most dynamic multihulls on the inshore racing circuit, with boats reaching 35 knots in flat waters. In six knots of breeze, they can fly one hull, the main reason why they have become a spectator’s favourite.

The class made its debut at the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06 start port of Sanxenxo, Galicia, at the end of last year, attracting some of the world’s top sailors and bringing together the world of offshore yachting with Olympic and dinghy sailing talent.

For the Brazilian round of the series, local sailing legends Lars Grael and Robert Scheidt will be competing when racing gets underway in Guanabara Bay on Tuesday.

Grael, the brother of Volvo Ocean Race skipper Torben and a two times Olympic medallist in the Tornado class, will skipper the Volvo Ocean Race entry, currently lying in second place to Tommy Hilfiger after the first round in Sanxenxo last November.

Scheidt, one of the most prolific Laser sailors in history, will also be a member of Grael’s five man crew and his familiarity with the winds and conditions in home waters will add an extra dimension to the 40 ft catamaran’s sizzling performances.

On Tuesday, five catamarans will line up at the start of the five-day Grand Prix series which will comprise a maximum of 18 races with a prize-giving set to take place at the end of racing on Sunday

Skippers include Grael, Olympic Tornado champion Mitch Booth, who with French gold medal winner Yves Loday, conceived and developed the Extreme 40. Booth will skipper Holmatro while Open 60 sailor Conrad Humphries skippers Motorola-CHR and two times Olympic silver medallist Randy Smyth, the veteran multihull sailor, heads up an impressive line up on the series leader Tommy Hilfiger.

Team Basilica, the only British owned, crewed, and sponsored boat in the event, have a new look crew following their disappointing performance in Sanxenxo.

New crew member Jonathan ‘Boycey’ Taylor will take on the rigger’s role and bowman, and Alistair Richardson moves to helm. Peter Greenhalgh, brother of ABN AMRO ONE sailor Robert, moves to mainsheet while James Grant remains as crew manager and trimmer.

After Rio, the teams will pack up the Volvo Extreme 40s and head to Baltimore, USA, for the third leg from 28th April to 3rd May.

Points Standings
1. Tommy Hilfiger 95 pts
2. Volvo Ocean Race 90 pts
3. Holmatro 87 pts
4. Motorola-CHR 79 pts
5. Basilica 67 pts

Remaining Volvo Extreme 40 Grand Prix Series Dates
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 21-26 March, 2006
Baltimore, USA 28 April – 3 May, 2006
Portsmouth, UK 27 May – 3 June, 2006
Rotterdam, Netherlands 9-14 June, 2006