Great Britain's double Olympic gold medallist Shirley ROBERTSON led her JPMorgan Asset Management team to victory in an action-packed first event of the 2008 iShares Cup in Lugano.
Glorious sunshine, torrential rain, hair-raising gusts and mirror-like calm - the first event of the iShares Cup at Lake Lugano in Switzerland had it all, including a dramatic first day capsize for America's Cup defenders Alinghi and a nail-biting fight at the finish. The sole female sailor of the fleet, Shirley ROBERTSON
(GBR), who came out on top to win by ten points.
"For a three day event I feel like we've been racing for a fortnight, I'm quite exhausted,"
said ROBERTSON after the last race. "Today was quite hard work, it felt like we didn't really get any breaks or sail all that well. Then waiting to see if there was going to be a last race or whether they were going to call it off, the nerves have been going today.
"But I'm absolutely thrilled, my team's done a fantastic job. It's a pleasure to sail with them and fantastic to sail with new tactician Chris MAIN, he hardly put a foot wrong. Really enjoyed it and can't wait till the next one!"
After winning five races over the first two days, double Olympic gold medallist ROBERTSON and her crew of Chris MAIN
, Nick HUTTON and Fraser BROWN on JPMorgan Asset Management went into the final day of racing with a 15-point lead over British America's Cup challengers TEAMORIGIN, but things got off to a surprising start in the first race of day three when JPMorgan Asset Manageent followed the fleet home in last place and were disqualified after failing to complete the course within the time limit in the zephyr-light breezes. TEAMORIGIN, helmed by 2007 iShares Cup champion Rob GREENHALGH
(GBR), came home in fourth to pile the pressure on for the overall title, while BT took the race win.
After a postponement which saw several crews cooling off from the scorching sunshine with a swim in Lake Lugano, it was America's Cup defenders Alinghi who rediscovered their fighting form in race 9, pulling off a tactical stunt that saw them come within inches of the shoreline to steal a winning angle to the second mark and then lead convincingly all the way home.
But all eyes were on the battle between JPMorgan Asset Management and TEAMORIGIN - ROBERSTON's crew had to take a penalty turn at the second mark, slowing the boat right down, while TEAMORIGIN were back in seventh place. JPMorgan Asset Management recovered to finish in fifth place as TEAMORIGIN followed them home in sixth. After an anxious wait to see if the wind would refill for a 10th race, the race committee signalled three hoots to end all racing - followed by cheers from the crew on JPMorgan Asset Management who had won the first event of the 2008 iShares Cup Sailing Series.
TEAMORIGIN were ten points behind in second place overall, while Nick MOLONEY
and the crew on BT climbed the leaderboard on the final day to finish third. Oman Sail took fourth overall, whilst Alinghi ended a run of consistent results in the top half with a win to finish fifth overall - the pre-event favourites showing they are still in contention for the overall iShares Cup prize.
Next stop Hyères, France from 13-15 June.
iShares Cup - www.isharescup.com