Since departing the Oceanic Challenge, the Whitbread veteran has set up his own two boat team

Veteran Australian ocean racing yachtsman Jim Close has taken new directions in his bid to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race 2001-2002 by establishing a new challenge syndicate called Sail Extreme.

The move follows his resignation from Team Oceanic in December last year.

“There has been no real dramatic change to my plans because the key people who originally supported me at Oceanic, have come across to Sail Extreme”, Close said.

“They include top international yachtsmen Andrew Cape, one of the world’s best navigators, Roger Badham, a world-renowned meteorologist and Colin Beashel and David Giles, Olympic medallists in the Star Class, who will be the coaching team.

“Final crew selection will be made in March 2001 and we will ship the yachts to Southampton in June for pre-race testing and fine-tuning”, he said.

A veteran of three Whitbread Round the World races and two America’s Cup campaigns, Close said Sail Extreme will commission world-renowned naval architects, Bruce Farr and Associates, to design two V.O.60 yachts for the syndicate.

“Building will commence in May and be completed in December, when we plan to enter both boats in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race”, Close said. Close said Sail Extreme has plenty to offer investors, not only because of the level of media coverage and overall marketing and corporate identity opportunities associated with the race, but also because of the cash streams that will be returned to the investors.

“For our investors, the exposure will be even bigger as we are commissioning the production of a large-screen feature film that will document and analyse the Sail Extreme adventure. The film will reflect the true excitement of ocean racing that would be experienced by the crew”, he said.

In addition to two yachts, Sail Extreme, will go into the race with a high-speed support vessel that will be used as a trade show and hospitality venue for investors, a viewing platform for the start of race legs, and as a film production base.

He said he also plans to introduce a sailing education program for school children in each major city of the race. He has designed a three-metre dinghy that is affordable to low to middle income families.

“I’ve always wanted to put something back into sailing because it’s done a lot for me, and it was actually during the last Whitbread that I thought of designing an affordable dinghy for kids to get into sailing”.

“We’ll be organising school regattas in each of the major cities and providing a dinghy as a prize to the winning school. It will also be a good opportunity for our investors to tie corporate events in with the regattas”.

“All in all, I think Sail Extreme will provide a unique combination of talents, state-of-the-art technology and marketing innovation which, together with our dedication and experience, will enhance our chances of success in the race”.