- Hotly disputed opening for the 2009 iShares Cup in Venice
- BMW ORACLE leads at the end of day 1
- 5 races and 4 different winners!
- A few bumps and dubious mark roundings as the fleet get back into race mode
iShares Cup Venice Day 1 close combat. Image copyright Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OCEvents.
by Emily Caroe
Despite challenging conditions at the opening round of the iShares Cup Venice, the 10 Extreme 40s put away five races this afternoon, before the breeze died. The race course is set along the Riva dei Setti, within striking distance of St Mark's Square, and the 40-ft catamarans were tacking and gybing within meters of the wall. The racing was hotly contested with no team gaining a clear advantage and it was a case of mixed fortunes for some. Ultimately, consistency paid off for James Spithill's BMW ORACLE Racing who after winning the first race emerged as leaders at the end of the first day of the 2009 iShares Cup Extreme 40 Sailing Series. Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rotschild, Renaissance (Oman Sail) and Masirah (Oman Sail) also made a remarkable debut, the latter only being one point behind Yann Guichard's team on the provisional leaderboard!
After a windless and overcast morning (although the scenery remains magical no matter what!), the breeze started to fill in shortly after midday and the 10 Extreme 40s took to the racecourse under menacing skies and a few drops of rain. The first four races of the day were held in around 6 to 8 knots of breeze, but by the end of the afternoon the wind had died and conditions were more than challenging for the crews.
With two consecutive second places and a win in race 3, Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rothschild impressed by their speed, consistency and tactics, and with BMW ORACLE and Renaissance (Oman Sail) having posted a win each, the leading boats were clearly identified early in the competition. Also impressive was Oman Sail's Masirah, winning two races and clearly benefiting from an intensive winter training. As Pete Cumming, Masirah's skipper, noted yesterday "We've worked a lot and did not make any changes to the crew compared to last year, so I expect it to pay off, but of course with the level of our opponents, we have to be humble." Humble or not, Pete and his crew certainly looked very confident on the tight Venetian racecourse today, and will be watched closely by their rivals tomorrow.
The racecourse, kept traffic-free by the local maritime authorities who had diverted the large number of ferries, waterbuses, taxis and other goods transport vessels, saw a few near misses and low-impact collisions today. Holmatro failed to give way to BMW ORACLE (on starboard tack, which grants priority) and bumped into the American Extreme 40 without causing serious damage. A comparable incident led to the disqualification of Groupama 40 in the last race. In light and fluky airs, and with not a lot of room to breathe around the marks, a couple of typical tense roundings occured, proving - if needed - that the iShares Cup is set to be more disputed than ever! This provided good entertainment value for the spectators along the Riva dei Setti!
James Spithill, BMW ORACLE Racing
"After having taken part in the Cowes event last year, I can say that the level is remarkably higher than it was in 2008, and it's very hard to single out a team as several are right up there and can expect to win."
Yann Guichard, Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rothschild
Newcomers to the iShares Cup, the crew is led by French multihull expert Yann Guichard, former Olympic competitor and ORMA 60 trimaran specialist. "We trained in Valencia with BMW Oracle and Groupama, and exchanged a lot of knowledge. The Extreme 40 is a powerful but seaworthy boat, and I chose to stick with a lightweight crew to have better speed in light airs. Of course, my previous multihull experience helps, and on board we know each other very well, I think we can achieve good results. And the objective is to win, of course!"
Race-Trax, official tracking Partner to the iShares Cup Extreme 40 Sailing Series
OC Events has teamed up with Race-Trax tracking solution to be the Official Tracking Partner to the iShares Cup. The Partnership will see all ten Extreme 40s on the start line at the first event in Venice carrying the Race-Trax technology that will be able to follow their progress around the tight-race courses every second of the way. Tim Hancock, the iShares Cup Race Director commented, “Having Race-Trax onboard with us for the Series is great. As we saw in the last two years, these Extreme 40s race at such high speeds and in really tight venues and so to be able to have the exact positions of the boats will ensure that we make the right calls and won’t need to rely on a photo finish!”
iShares Cup Leaderboard
1. BMW ORACLE Racing 40pts
2. Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild 36pts
3. Masirah 35pts
4. Holmatro 31pts
5. Renaissance 30pts
6. LUNA 26pts
7. Groupama 40 25pts
8. BT 21pts
9. iShares 17pts
10. Ecover 13pts