Monday, 4 August 2008

iShares Cup, Cowes, Day 2: Alinghi in the Driving Seat

Day 2 of iShares Cup racing off Cowes. Image copyrigt OnEdition/OC Events.

by iShares Cup/OC Event media

Racing has finished for Day 2 of the iShares Cup at Skandia Cowes Week with 6 races staged. The first casualty of the day was Oman Sail who returned to the dock with a broken tiller and damage to their back beam after a collision with Volvo Ocean Race. Alinghi have taken control of the UK round but only 1 point separates the teams of Holmatro, Franck Cammas' BMW Oracle Racing and TeamOrigin.

Alinghi in the lead on Day 2 of the iShares Cup off Cowes. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

There were some exhausted looking crews at the end of Day 2 of the iShares Cup, after six grueling races were completed on another wet and wild day at Skandia Cowes Week.

The four America’s Cup teams present have so far dominated this UK leg of the iShares Cup, and today was no exception. After a brief delay for one of the many yacht fleets racing in Skandia Cowes Week to clear the course, it was James Spithill on BMW Oracle Racing who opening proceedings, followed home by event leaders Alinghi, series leaders TeamOrigin, and stablemate BMW Oracle Racing Cammas: the battle was on to see who would come out on top.

The two BMW Oracle Racing teams, with Cammas in a borrowed Ellen MacArthur Trust boat, race against each other on Day 2 of the iShares Cup off Cowes. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

Racing was a little too close for some in the first race, with a collision between Oman Sail and Volvo Ocean Race, which left Oman Sail with damage to their tiller and a rudder, and Volvo Ocean Race wrapped around the leeward mark.

“I was looking forward at the jib and the first thing I knew was Mark [Bulkeley] shouting,” said Oman Sail skipper Pete Cumming of the incident, “He rolled off the windward side into the trampoline and the bowsprit missed his head by inches, so I dived onto the trampoline as well! The bowsprit cleared us and then there was a massive bang as their bow went into our back beam.” Oman were forced to call it a day after only one race with a broken tiller and damaged to the back beam but expect to be back racing tomorrow.

But the America’s Cup teams are also facing some tough competition from catamaran specialist Andreas Hagara on Holmatro, who has held on to second overall — just one point ahead of BMW Oracle Racing Cammas, with TeamOrigin just point further behind. Andreas Hagara proved his cat sailing experience when he recovered from a spectacular near-capsize in race two, the crew clinging onto the netting as the boat balanced on her bows before bouncing back down onto the water — and straight back into the race.

Holmatro racing on Day 2 off Cowes. Image copyright OnEdition/OC Events.

Before racing today Hagara explained why the bear away is such a danger zone for the Extreme 40s: “The bear away at the windward mark in those conditions is always a challenge. You have to ease the mainsheet and the jib, and you have to ease the mainsheet and the traveller quite early, actually before the bear away because if you get a gust and the bows are already in the water then the hydraulic mainsheet doesn’t release that quickly and you can be too late.

“Once the rudders are in the air, I can play around with the tiller but can’t feel anything! So you have to get all the weight back.”

Elsewhere in the fleet several boats had to make repairs on the move as the steep, grey Solent waves once battered the Extreme 40 fleet. The team on BMW Oracle Racing Spithill worked to frantically fix to their jib whilst sailing down the run, and JPMorgan Asset Management retired from one race after suffering problems with their gennaker.

Video of Day 2 iShares Cup, Cowes

Between six and eight races are scheduled tomorrow, with another breezy day predicted to test the crew’s stamina to the max.

iShares Cup

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