Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rothschild won the first event of the 2009 iShares Cup season in Venice, edging out BMW ORACLE Racing after an exciting finale on Sunday.
Great starts, impressive speed and flawless manoeuvres allowed Yann GUICHARD
's (FRA) crew to shine on the racecourse since day one at the iShares Cup Venice, taking the lead yesterday after 10 races... Winning the first one today, the French team proved omnipresent in the leading group, making very few mistakes and gradually capitalising on points to move closer to final victory after each race. The wind direction today forced the Race Committee to set-up oblong courses leaving few tactical options to the skippers, and more than ever winning the first mark was key - any hesitation or imperfect placement on the startline was immediately sanctioned by a costly result. Show-wise, it was absolutely perfect with the boats coming under gennaker, flying a hull, just metres away from the race village!
GUICHARD commented, "It's a great feeling to win here, I guess we were coming knowing we were somewhere in the top five, but winning the first event is fantastic! We concentrated on our starts, communication within the team was excellent and we did not lose our focus. There is a lot of pressure on the helmsmen as the boats are very close, and it's very demanding physically for the crew but we were working perfectly together."
's (FRA) Renaissance (Oman Sail), had a great start to the day and won two races in a row before collapsing in the final confrontation, while the Groupama 40 boys were on good form as well, posting a first win today then a second place while Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rothschild and BMW ORACLE Racing were having a 'shocker' in race 14. At the end of the latter, Renaissance was third only two points away from the America's Cup team!
Pressure was building up, with the perspective of the last race of the day counting for double points. By that time Renaissance had moved into second place, and tension was high as anything could happen for second, third and fourth places! And indeed, it did. Renaissance's risky start option did not pay off and PEYRON ended up at the back of the fleet whilst Ecover was leading at the first mark... before being relegated to the last place in the final race with so many points at stake! BT captured the last victory of the iShares Cup Venice event in front BMW ORACLE Racing while Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rothschild came third and secured overall victory.
"That's one in the bag, and five to go!"
GUICHARD said. "We really enjoyed the format, I think it's been great for the spectators as well. We'll go back to training soon, as the next event in Hyères will probably be more windy and a bit different, but we're looking forward to it."
(AUS), from second place BMW ORACLE Racing, said the conditions made it a tough final day, "It was obviously very light and today was definitely a different style of racing with a reaching course and I thought we were pretty weak at it so I think we're happy to walk away with a second. Gitana were definitely on top of their game. So a lot of good lessons have been learnt and I think we'll be better for it. [Venice was] fantastic, what a great venue, got to love it, we really enjoyed it."
Moving on... Next stop in Hyères-TPM
The next event of the iShares Cup Extreme 40 Sailing Series will take place in Hyères-TPM in France, a venue which last year provided some of the most spectacular images of the season! As Gilles CHIORRI, OC Events Director, points out, "Moving on from Venice to Hyères-TPM is probably the best demonstration of the variety the iShares Cup offers in terms of racing conditions. The sailors have had to adapt to a tricky and very tight course in the Bacino San Marco [Venice], the game will be different in France with a more open and windy venue, and with the Mistral likely to kick in, we can expect a few hair-raising moments!"
The stunning bay of Hyères with the gorgeous Porquerolles island in the background will be a delight for the sailors and the spectators alike.
2009 Entries iShares Cup Extreme 40 Sailing Series
Teams and Skippers
BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) - James SPITHILL (AUS)
BT (EUR) - Nick MOLONEY (AUS)
Holmatro (NED) - Carolijn BROUWER (BEL)
iShares (EUR) - Shirley ROBERTSON (GBR)
Gitana Extreme- Groupe LCF Rothschild (FRA) - Yann GUICHARD (FRA)
Groupama 40 (FRA) - Franck CAMMAS (FRA)
LUNA (FRA) - Erik MARIS (FRA)
Oman Sail Masirah (OMA) - Pete CUMMING (GBR)
Oman Sail Renaissance (OMA) - Loïck PEYRON (FRA)
The 2009 iShares Cup will visit:
Event 1 - Venice, Italy, 15-17 May
Event 2 - Hyères-TPM, France, 3-5 July
Event 3 - Cowes, United Kingdom, 1-3 August
Event 4 - Kiel, Germany, 28-30 August
Event 5 - Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 25-27 September
Event 6 - Almería, Andalucía, 10-12 October
The iShares Cup is an ISAF Special Event. Find out more at www.isharescup.com.