Thursday, May 08, 2008

Final details in place: 9 boats, 5 venues for the 2008 iShares Cup

[Source: iShares Cup] The final pieces of the jigsaw are now in place for the 2008 iShares Cup Sailing Series.

The venue for the German leg of the European tour has been confirmed as Kiel, on the Baltic Sea. Kiel, in northern Germany, is the third new venue for the 2008 iShares Cup and home to the fourth event on the circuit — the Extreme 40 fleet will race there from 29-31 August, offering guests and spectators a chance to get a great close-up view of the fast-paced iShares Cup racing.

The bustling city has a strong maritime history, and lies on the busiest artificial waterway in the world, the Kiel Canal. Every June the city holds Kiel Week, the largest sailing event in Europe, which combines dinghy and yacht racing with a festival of ships, music and fireworks. The event welcomes about three million visitors annually, who perch on the sea walls and rocky coastal defences to watch around 2,000 boats ranging from massive tall ships to racing yachts and Olympic dinghy classes. The iShares Cup racecourses will be held in the same fantastic sailing amphitheatre.

“Both the area’s exceptional natural sailing stadium, and the enthusiasm of the city of Kiel to host the German venue of the 2008 iShares Cup, easily convinced us when it came to making the final call,” explained Event Director Gilles Chiorri, of OC Events, “The racecourse will be so close to the spectators that it will be an amazing spectacle to watch the Extreme 40 fleet rounding the marks just a couple of metres from the shore!”

Title sponsors iShares welcomed the addition of Kiel to the event circuit. “Germany is a key market for iShares and Kiel is an ideal location to host this stage of the 2008 iShares Cup. The style of sailing you will witness in the iShares Cup is revolutionary and we are delighted to be supporting such an exciting sport whereby its core characteristics reflect our brand values and business approach,” said Dan Kiddle, Head of iShares Sponsorship, Europe.

The Team Origin Extreme 40 yacht carrying out the first test sails. Photo copyright Ian Roman/TEAMORIGIN

Another new entry has also been confirmed, bringing the 2008 iShares Cup fleet to nine boats so far. The latest team to line up for this year’s contest are Tommy Hilfiger, who will be returning to the circuit after finishing fourth in last year’s iShares Cup.

Tommy Hilfiger reunites three of last year’s crew with skipper Randy Smyth. The American helmsman took part in the Amsterdam leg of the 2007 iShares Cup as well as racing at the front of the fleet the previous year. Randy counts an astonishing 58 national and world championship wins in one-design multihulls, as well as taking a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics and winning the America’s Cup in ’88. He will be joined by fellow Americans Jonathan Farrar, Tommy Hilfiger’s tactician, and trimmer Stan Schreyer. Dutch bowman Mark van Gelderen brings a European touch to this trans-Atlantic team — he is an experienced Extreme 40 crew, having sailed in the class since its launch three years ago.

“Having Tommy Hilfiger back in the 2008 iShares Cup is already an important milestone for the circuit, and moreover having such a cat legend Randy Smyth as skipper on board gives an extra level of interest — certainly a lot is expected from this crew,” said Chiorri.

The 2008 iShares Cup kicks off in just 21 days time. The first event is in the mountain city of Lugano, racing on the beautiful lake on the Swiss-Italian border over 30 May-1 June, before moving on to the French leg of the circuit at Hyères. It heads to Britain on 2-4 August to race during Skandia Cowes Week, then Kiel, Germany from 29-31 August. The iShares Cup concludes in Amsterdam as the Extreme 40s return to the scene of last year’s dramatic finale, racing right in the centre of the Dutch city over 19-21 September.

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