Thursday, July 02, 2009

Practice Day Delivers at iShares Cup Hyères-TPM

[Source: iShares Cup] Today’s practice races certainly delivered the goods ahead of the official start of the iShares Cup Hyères-TPM event tomorrow. The sea breeze built up to a steady 10-12 knots - more than enough to get the Extreme 40s hulls flying. The iShares Cup Raid – a 10-mile sprint to the island of Porquerolles – saw a French victory as Erik Maris skipper of LUNA snatched victory from James Spithill’s BMW ORACLE Racing after just 36 minutes of racing. Maris suffered a broken wrist playing football but his arm encased in a plaster cast does not seem to be an impediment! It was a tight finish to the line for the remainder of the 8 teams and iShares Cup inside reporter, Jocelyn Blériot, rode shotgun on BMW ORACLE Racing – see his report below. And English rugby stars, Tom May and Joe El-Abd, who now both play for Toulon, also came along for a ride…

The Extreme 40's practice for tomorrow's start of the iShares Cup Hyères-TPM. Hyères, 2 July 2009. Video copyright iShares Cup

In detail:
Round 2 of the iShares Cup Hyères-TPM is all set to go – official racing starts tomorrow (Friday, 3rd July) at 14h00 local time through to Sunday, 5th July. Today saw a series of practice races for the ten Extreme 40s including the iShares Cup Raid – a 10-mile sprint to the island of Porquerolles and back. The beauty of the iShares Cup is the adaptability of the Extreme 40 fleet to race on open sea or on inland waters; racing short courses close to shore, trying speed runs or stretching their legs in a ‘raid’ format as they did today.

Following the official opening iShares Cup press conference at which Jacques Politi, Mayor of Hyères and Vice-President of TPM (Toulon Provence Mediterranée) welcomed the skippers to the region, the skippers were keen to get going. Franck Cammas, skipper Groupama: “I am impatient to race! The Extreme 40s are great to sail and Hyères should be more windy than Venice hopefully. I hope we're not going to race too close to shore if it's really windy as it might be a bit more 'extreme' than we like!”

The Extreme 40's practice for tomorrow's start of the iShares Cup Hyères-TPM. Hyères, 2 July 2009. Photo copyright Thierry Martinez

Although the weather forecast predicted light conditions for the next few days, the temperatures in Hyères results in the land heating up through the morning to create a good and consistent sea breeze for the afternoon. Shirley Robertson, skipper Team iShares, remembers the conditions last year: “Last year we had some big wind - I ended up on a stretcher with stitches! Going downwind with the big gennaker up and both rudders out the water - there's not much you can do at the back except hang on - this is Hyères! I think this weekend we could have a few surprises...”

Well, perhaps the first surprise of Round 2 has been the victory of Erik Maris and his crew onboard LUNA, in the iShares Cup Raid and the second practice race.

As Loick Peyron, skipper Oman Sail Renaissance commented: “This iShares Cup is a very exciting game... Sailing in open water can change many things.”

iShares Cup Raid results (non-scoring race):
1 LUNA (Erik Maris)
2 BMW ORACLE Racing (James Spithill)
3 Gitana (Yann Guichard)
4 Groupama (Franck Cammas)
5 Oman Sail Renaissance (Loick Peyron)
6 BT (Nick Moloney)
7 Holmatro (Carolijn Brouwer)
8 Oman Sail Masirah (Pete Cumming)
9 iShares (Shirley Robertson)
10 Ecover (Mike Golding)

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