Bringing the sport closer to people



DUBAI // The man behind the ambitious plan to bring the sport of sailing closer to the public through a series of "Extreme 40" races is Mark Turner, whose passion was for the opposite branch of his sport - ocean racing. Turner takes great pride in having raced against and secured an undefeated record against Dame Ellen McArthur, who set a record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe in 2005.

"I beat her in a transatlantic race which was her first and proved to be my last," he said. "It was obvious how good she was going to be so I decided to quit while I was ahead." Turner and McArthur are now partners in a company called OC Events, who organise Extreme 40 races for catamarans at various locations. "To bring professional sailing in this region you have to have something that is sexy, fast, dynamic and different and I believe that is what we are providing here," Turner said.

"The Extreme 40s [a 40ft catamaran] is a perfect machine for areas where there are light winds. "We are trying to bring the sport closer to the watching people. We just finished our second series in Europe and there were 80,000 spectators." wjohnson@thenational.ae

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