iShares pulls out of extreme catamaran series

Extreme Sailing Series Europe confirmed for 2010, new title sponsor negotiations underway
OC Events, owner and organiser of the award-winning Extreme Sailing Series, today announces its title sponsor, iShares, has decided to end its association with the European Circuit due to a change in company ownership. OC Events has confirmed this will not adversely affect the European Circuit for 2010 or the recently launched inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia 2009/10.

Mark Turner, CEO of OC Group that includes OC Events, commented: “Disappointing of course, but this is the world of commercial sponsorship – the Extreme Sailing Series concept will continue to be developed in Europe next year, along with all the stakeholders that have shared the success of 2009 – teams, sponsors and host venues. We have built up a benchmark sailing sports entertainment product, at the highest sporting level, providing excellent returns for all concerned. The European circuit has gathered fantastic momentum with ten top teams competing in close confines in Europe's top venues and we plan to grow this a great deal further in 2010. Fortunately the event now has many stakeholders and many different revenue streams, so while we will obviously bring in a new title sponsor for 2010, things are very different to 2007 when the title sponsor represented nearly all the income. We have team sponsors, host venues and other event partners already contractually committed through as far as 2012. The Extreme Sailing Series will be back in 2010, and we plan for it to be even bigger and better.”

iShares signed a two year renewal at the beginning of this year, with a 10 day window exit clause following the final event of the season. BlackRock Inc acquired iShares in August this year.

Rick Andrews, head of iShares marketing, Europe, commented: “With a change in Company ownership of iShares coming on 1st December, we are unable to commit to the sponsorship of this event in 2010, and we have had to use a break clause in our 2 year contract with OC Events. This break clause existed for a 10-day period only, following the final event of the year in Almeria.

“The iShares Cup has been a phenomenal success for iShares and it is with much sadness that we have been obliged to make this decision. Client response from surveys has been phenomenal. They are just absolutely blown away by lots of different elements. However, we are confident that such an outstanding property will not be on the market for long – the value for money, the exceptional client experience and the return on investment from this property have really helped propel iShares forward, and I am sure that OC Events will be able to capitalise on our experience with a new partner shortly.”

The Extreme Sailing Series Europe 2010 promises again to pit the very best sailors on the planet up against each other, in top class venues, bringing sailing to a whole new audience both in person and through its global media platform. Three venues and five teams have already confirmed for 2010 and the Notice of Race will be released in the coming weeks.

Mark Turner concluded: “OC Events has invested hugely in this concept and we have ambitious plans for both the European and Asian circuits over the coming years. We are, of course, disappointed to see iShares go, they have been an excellent partner for us. They were onboard for pure commercial reasons, and they have pushed us hard on all fronts, helping us to create the solid product we have today. We created this event together from the beginning of the idea in 2006, but now that the circuit is more mature and the public element as witnessed most recently in Almeria last weekend is really starting to work, we can also see this as an opportunity to bring in a more consumer focused brand as title sponsor to help us take it to the next level again. We now have the scale and reach to deliver for consumer facing brands as well as those more focused on business to business.”

Extreme Sailing Series Europe Vital Statistics

2009 Venues:
Venice, Italy
Hyeres-TPM, France
Cowes, England
Kiel, Germany
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Almeria, Spain

Estimated number of spectators:
2007 57,000
2008 150,000
2009 200,000

VIP entertainment: 93% of VIP guests agreed that the iShares Cup fell within the top three events they had ever attended.

Media return 2008: The 2008 iShares Cup media coverage was measured by independent monitoring and evaluation agency Sports Marketing Surveys at €5,520,703* with over 9 hours of TV news coverage alone. All values exclusively for AB25+ audiences

*Media monitoring was restricted to each European territory for a period around the iShares Cup event only and does not include year-round global monitoring.

Projected media value for 2009 at c. €8 million.

Worldwide TV series 2008: Six-part iShares Cup television series distributed in 119 territories with a value of over €1.45 million across 16 international TV networks to an audience reach of 229.9 million homes per programme with 40 hours of programming each month. News features on five Gillette World of Sports programmes – the World's most watched sport magazine show. Inclusion in five Seamaster Sailing programmes, the internationally distributed grand prix sailing magazine show distributed in 137 countries across 28 international TV networks.

The 2009 media evaluation report and economic impact reports for Kiel and Almeria are currently being completed.

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