Ellen MacArthur, Mike Golding, and Alex Thomson open show and race against each other at ExCel today 5/1/07

Shortly after they carried out the opening ceremony at the Collins Stewart London Boatshow at ExCel in London this morning, Mike Golding, Ellen MacArthur and Alex Thomson – three of Britain’s top offshore sailors – raced against each other in front of 100s of spectators in Royal Victoria Dock competing for the Extreme 40 Challenge.

The event also marked the launch of the Extreme 40 Sailing Series for 2007 to be sponsored by iShares.

Sailing Team Basilica the high-performance Extreme 40 catamaran and crewed by a mix of top racing sailors, Mike Golding, Ellen MacArthur and Alex Thomson took it in turns to race a time trial on a windward/leeward course just off HMS St Albans.

A fantastic breeze, just enough to fly the occasional hull, provided plenty of entertainment for the spectators while the round the world sailors managed, in a totally alien environment, to navigate their way up and down the confines of the Royal Victoria Docks.

Interestingly but not particularly surprisingly round the world record holder Dame Ellen MacArthur outshone the boys with an impressive 2 minute 14 second victory. Golding came in 2 minutes 40 seconds, and Thomson trailed the fleet with a 2 minutes 45 seconds run.

Full details of the iShares Cup calendar and venues will be announced in May 2007.