- Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rothschild moves into the lead after Day 2
- No room to breathe on the start line... or at the buoys where finding an opening was key
- Glorious sunshine and enough wind to fly hulls? A treat for the spectators crowding the Venetian quay
Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild winner of the second race of day 2 at Venice 2009. Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co/OC Events.
by Emily Caroe
Skies cleared up above the eternal city of Venice, and as cruise ships entered the busy waterways one could only be under the spell of the sophisticated, timeless and classical elegance of the town, its ability to remain true to itself regardless of the world around it. Set within sight of the Plaza San Marco, a few steps away from the Arsenal and the shipyards which allowed the Republic of Venice to establish itself as a genuine European power (read more below), the iShares Cup race village enjoyed a fantastic sunny morning, gearing up for the afternoon races.
The Committee had to postpone the first start but the wind eventually kicked in, and BMW ORACLE Racing won the first race of the day just like they had done yesterday. Quite clearly, the American team, Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rothschild, Renaissance and Masirah seemed to dominate and the mark roundings proved red hot, with a few contacts and subsequent penalties. Yann Guichard's crew impressed with their speed, while Pete Cumming went on to win two races in a row... with Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rothschild in his wake! Loïck Peyron had mixed fortunes and a few imperfect starts, but showed a great ability to get back in the game - unfortunately, the crew's 5th man had a taste of Venetian waters and had to be picked up by a safety rib! The "man overboard" seemed to have enjoyed his experience, coming ashore dripping but with a big smile on his face.
Peyron went on to win race 10, with BMW ORACLE in his wake and Holmatro posting a second third place of the day. iShares had taken a good start - Shirley Robertson being on form today with a second and a third, but once more the first windward mark rounding was key, finding the opening was key... as were the starts, and the Race Committee had to perform two general recalls today! Moving into the lead after two days and 10 races, Yann Guichard confirmed his tactical inspiration and the crew impressed with their amazing boatspeed. This second day saw the heavyweights of the circuit come out on top quite clearly, and the leading quartet that emerged yesterday is still on top of the leaderboard today... with a special mention for Pete Cumming's Masirah, cumulating 4 race wins.
Yann Guichard, Gitana-Extreme - Groupe LCF Rothschild, on moving into the lead: "We're very pleased of course, we took good starts and I think our speed is good. The crew works well together, and it all seems to come together for the moment!"
Erik Maris, owner-driver of Luna, who posted two creditable third places: "We absolutely love it, the racing is intense and the atmosphere is great among the teams. You can tell the competition is fierce, yet the sense of enjoyment seems to prevail, it's all about having fun!"
James Spithill / John Kostecki, BMW ORACLE Racing: "Full credit to the guys on Gitana, they had great starts and sailed really well." / "What a great venue, it's fantastic to sail in front of the crowd. It was tricky again, but Gitana did great."
Shirley Robertson, iShares: "The courses are pretty small, it can be absolute chaos, lots of crashes and shouting mostly in French! Today was a perfect day - a lovely breeze - the key really is that top mark but also the start, and the startline is pretty small - its not really big enough for everybody. I feel happier today and I think we did better on the startline. There was lots of people watching, it's such a beautiful venue, and great to hear people cheering and with all the crashes around the marks today I think we gave them a great spectacle as well!"
A bit of history... the "Arsenale"
Today fully restored and back to its former glory, the Venice Arsenal was created at the beginning of the 12th Century and, as a shipyard, played a crucial role in the development of the Venetian empire. Its total surface was quadrupled after Marco Polo's return in 1295, and at its busiest period more than 16 000 people were employed by this little city within the city. Most historians agree on the fact that the domination of Venetian merchants owed a lot to the technical superiority of the ships built by the "Arsenale", that today is open to the public and offers a fantastic opportunity to revisit the city's past.