While the Brits topped the scoreboard of the three-day competition that saw the maximum number of 15 races sailed and 25,000 spectators viewing the action, Volvo Ocean Race were always close behind, keeping the pressure on, 'After seeing how Basilica sailed and to see where they are strong and where they are weak. We are looking forward to the next iShares Cup event in Marseille,' said Franck CITEAU (FRA) tactician on Volvo Ocean Race. 'We have a plan for Marseille. I can't tell you what it is, but we have a plan!' The French team were only five points adrift of the overall lead, only falling below fourth place once over the course of three days.
The Race Committee rescheduled racing on Sunday to attempt to fit in nine races to reach the maximum 15 races allowed for each iShares Cup event. The six-boat fleet started at 09:00 local time in a moderate breeze although the wind varied in speed and direction throughout the day from 2 knots to the occasional hull-flying 8 knots.
A heated fight for third place developed over the course of the day between Stan SCHREYER (USA) on Tommy Hilfiger and Holmatro skipper Andreas HAGARA (AUT). Tommy Hilfiger had a fantastic start to this regatta but on Sunday in the first race where double points were at stake, they came fifth after hitting a mark and having to take a penalty. Things did not get better. In the next race they came last and, ultimately, took themselves out of contention for the lead and had to settle for fourth place overall. Whereas Holmatro posted a flying start, 'It was very important for us to do well in the double points race,' HAGARA reflected. 'We didn't have a good first day, we were better on the second and our teamwork improved each day so we decided to push it very hard in the double points race. To do well in this event we knew we had to sail well until the end. Nine races today was really challenging and mentally tiring but we are really happy to finish third overall.'
Richard FEENEY (USA, bowman on Tommy Hilfiger, praised his opponents, 'I've got so much respect for Andreas HAGARA and we've got no shame in losing to a team like Holmatro.' Skipper SCHREYER agreed, 'We are a little disappointed with our result. Andreas was a coach of mine for a time and we got beaten by a master - nothing to be embarrassed about.'
The Back Markers
In fifth place, Offshore Challenges Sailing Team skippered by Nick MOLONEY (GBR), had native sailor and Olympic Tornado Class sailor Gunnar STRUCKMANN (GER) on board, 'Extreme 40s are just great to race. Tornados are great but it's very different sailing. I'm really impressed by how sensitive the boats are. It's always nice to sail in your home country and the spectators were fantastic and it was really rewarding to bring such an exciting sport to the public.' MOLONEY and his crew, including Britain's Olympic Tornado sailor Hugh STYLES, struggled to find their form but were elated to post a win in the second race of today.
Team 'SLAM' Denmark may have finished the event in sixth place, but as a fully amateur team they have made their mark on this fleet of professional sailors. Boat owner and skipper Erik Filso PEDERSEN (DEN) was proud of his team, 'We're more than satisfied and we learned and improved on every race. We were so pleased not to be last on every race and in several races we beat the top pros at their own game, it is a great feeling.'
After crossing the line for the final time of this opening event in the iShares Cup calendar, the top teams saluted the crowd with a flying hull display just metres from the shore earning them huge applause from the spectators.
The next iShares Cup Extreme 40 event will be held in Marseille from 7-9 July but before then some of the fleet will head to Lake Geneva to compete in one of Europe's largest endurance races, the 82-mile Bol d'Or Mirabaud.