Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gitana Extreme Excel in the Light Airs of Day 2 of iShares Cup Amsterdam

[Source: iShares Cup] Light conditions dominated day 2, at times a bit of a lottery with 4 different winners in as many races today - not a day for brawn but brains. Overall series leaders Oman Sail Masirah made it back in the water in time but they wallow in sixth place on the event leaderboard after their redress. It was Gitana Extreme - Groupe LCF Rothschild who excelled in the light airs, although Loick Peyron tried everything to keep Oman Sail Renaissance in control, but ultimately had to concede the event lead, setting the stage for a French head to head going into the final day tomorrow. Mitch Booth took the home team of Holmatro into third place: "Not spectacular racing but more a game of chess..." Although the 8,500-strong crowd didn't seem to mind as the boats passed within inches of the canal walls, cheering the Dutch team every time.

On day 2 of the iShares Cup Amsterdam the breeze barely exceeded 5 knots, occasionally rippling the surface of the IJ-Haven. It was downwind starts in a pre-dominantly easterly breeze but it was also incredibly shifty: “It's tricky here - the breeze is coming and going and it's a case of picking which building to gybe in front of! The positions can change right up until the finish - not spectacular racing but more a game of chess,” said Holmatro skipper Mitch Booth. “In these conditions we are generally looking around for new breeze, searching for little 'cat's paws' on the water, looking at the flags on the shore or barges which are always good indicators, then applying that to what we've got on board."

Overall iShares Cup series leaders were craned back into the water with 30 minutes to spare, following the overnight repairs, and were given redress but, frustratingly for the pre-race favourites, they find themselves in an unfamiliar sixth place on the event leaderboard: “It’s been unsettling for the guys and I’m pretty confident we would have had better results than a bunch of fifths that we’ve got from redress but that’s the way the rules are written – that’s gutting because it’s out of our control. But tomorrow is within our control as we’ll just sail the best we can.”

Yann Guichard and his crew on Gitana Extreme – Group LCF Rothschild profited the most in these conditions and won the last race to overtake Oman Sail Renaissance on the event leaderboard: “We had good tactics, it was very quiet on board, and Yann did a great job,” said trimmer, Hervé Cunningham: “Hopefully tomorrow we will have more breeze and also we will not just be Saturday’s champions but overall champions as well!”

The light conditions affected every team in one way or another today, many running out of time to finish a race within the time limit which was the case for Loick Peyron in the last race that ultimately cost him the lead. Nevertheless, the fight is far from over… It looks likely that Peyron and Guichard will be going head to head tomorrow, but any of the top six teams are within reach of the iShares Cup Amsterdam title as ‘local hero’ Mitch Booth pointed out: “It’s been a tough day – some passing lanes and a lot of losing lanes as well. We’re just happy that we could hang in there and gain one more place and still within striking distance of the leader but anything can happen here. It’s so tight on points and looking at the scoreboard, right now any of the top six boats are still capable of winning this event.”

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