Saturday 2 August 2008

'Daunting' competition for the iShares Cup at Skandia Cowes Week

BMW Oracle Racing training on the Solent yesterday before round 3 of the iShares Cup. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW Oracle Racing.

by iShares Cup/OC Event media

In brief:
* 11 Extreme 40s to compete, including three America's Cup teams and two new boats from BMW Oracle Racing
* Britain's TeamOrigin is ready for a tough battle to defend their series lead
* Sea breeze conditions are forecast for more full-on racing on the Solent at Skandia Cowes Week!

Preparations for Skandia Cowes Week are underway close to the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes.

Preview of iShares Cup action in Cowes

From Saturday until Monday the iShares Cup races will be held on short courses between Lepe Spit and Calshot Spit, with good sailing winds predicted of at least 15 knots. "Looking at what's coming in we've got breeze from the south-west direction, depending on cloud cover," said Race Director Alan Hillman. On hot days Cowes often enjoys an added bonus of a sea breeze effect - which builds the wind even further. "If we get any sun, it's going to hoon! The sea breeze will fuel it, and I think it could be windy."

"The boat-handling will sort the men from the boys then!" commented Pete Cumming, who was feeling confident at the prospect of some big breeze sailing on board Oman Sail, "We've got Freddie [David Carr] up front and you don't get a much bigger engine than that, so we're looking forward to it!"

Shirley Robertson's JP Morgan Asset Management Extreme 40 team sail reefed down in 30 knots and sunshine, in the lee of the Isle of Wight to avoid the short, steep Solent chop kicked up by wind against tide.

Although the Solent is renowned for its strong currents, racing over such a small area will limit the tidal impact for the Extreme 40s. "Where we're racing basically to get out of the tide they'd have to either hit the beach, or get out into the main shipping channels, so I don't think tide's going to be a huge factor," explained Alan. But the sea venue may well bring some waves for the iShares Cup teams to contend with, "I think the main local knowledge will be having sailed in the Solent chop, and knowing how short and steep it is."

BMW Oracle Racing skipper James Spithill commented, "Certainly the area is renowned for its tide but the good thing with these boats is that hopefully we'll get some breeze and then it shouldn't be too much of a factor - and it's the same for everyone, but we'll see!"

Six races a day are scheduled, between 14.00-17.00, with practice sailing in the morning.

iShares Cup

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