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The script could not have been more perfectly written by the end of the penultimate day of racing at the final round of the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series™ in Almeria. Yann Guichard (Groupe Edmond de Rothschild) and Paul Campbell-James (The Wave, Muscat) will go into the final day of the final round of the season on equal points – Guichard retains the top spot on count back, scoring seven first places at this regatta opposed to Campbell-James’ six. It is now likely that the final will go to the wire with double points up for grabs in the last race.
 
The script could not have been more perfectly written by the end of the penultimate day of racing at the final round of the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series™ in Almeria. Yann Guichard (Groupe Edmond de Rothschild) and Paul Campbell-James (The Wave, Muscat) will go into the final day of the final round of the season on equal points – Guichard retains the top spot on count back, scoring seven first places at this regatta opposed to Campbell-James’ six. It is now likely that the final will go to the wire with double points up for grabs in the last race.

In contrast to yesterday’s breezy conditions that produced some incredibly close and on the edge of control racing, a gentle breeze of 5-6 knots ruffled the waters inside the port of Almeria requiring maximum concentration and good crew weight distribution to optimize boat speed. Paul Campbell-James and the boys on The Wave, Muscat knew they had to put in a strong performance today and they redeemed themselves admirably, posting two wins in the fleet races and winning the final match race of today against Guichard: “We couldn’t be happier! We are back in the game and it’s all to play for tomorrow. We are on a come back and they are going down so it should be interesting tomorrow,” said Campbell-James. “We’re pumped, it’s not only overall for this event, it’s overall for the whole series that we are playing for tomorrow. The whole year is down to one single day and I can imagine it will be decided in the last race.”

 Groupe Edmond de Rothschild came into the season as favourites, finishing second overall in 2009, but it has been the ‘young guns’ on the Omani team that have pushed them every step of the way: “It was a hard day for us but we keep the lead with the same points as The Wave, Muscat so it will be a big fight tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, we are feeling good and the competition should be high. The weather will be different tomorrow with more wind. But as usual we will take it race by race,” said Guichard. “We’re still leading the event here and that’s the main thing. The Wave had a really good day today while for us we struggled a little bit at the start.”

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The Wave, Muscat (Photo by Paul Wyeth/ OC Events )

 Desperate for an event win is the British team led by Mike Golding on Ecover Sailing Team, and they started the day with good intentions. Ecover won the first fleet race and three races later Guichard, Campbell-James and Golding were all on equal points of 76 going into the fourth race. Helmsman Leigh McMillan sailed a cracking race to put Ecover top of the leaderboard. Sadly, the glory was short-lived – a 5th and 6th place plus losing their match race scuppered their chances. However, nothing is decided yet with a full schedule of racing set for tomorrow and the game is still wide open for Ecover to get back in the mix.

 Loick Peyron and his crew on Oman Sail Masirah had an up and down day, and although they have managed to hold on to their fourth place in the event rankings, Franck Cammas (Groupama) is within three points: “It was a good day for us, we won a race and made it to the top three several times and we ended the day on a victory in our match race,” said Cammas. “We’re within reach of Masirah, Ecover in third is a bit further but tomorrow should be a great day with a nice battle.” Roman Hagara’s Red Bull Extreme Sailing team now have their work cut out for them if they want to overhaul Cammas to claim the overall fifth place that these two teams are vying for.

The home team of Rumbo Almeria skippered by Guillermo Altadill delighted the local crowds by scoring a 2nd in the first race of the day and now have 54 points, putting them in 6th place going into the final day. Not bad for a team that have had hardly any preparation or training time. Go Almeria!

Extreme Sailing Series™ Almeria Results after Day 3

1st Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, Yann Guichard, 97 points
2nd The Wave, Muscat, Paul Campbell-James, 97 points
3rd Ecover Sailing Team, Mike Golding, 91 points
4th Oman Sail Masirah, Loick Peyron, 78 points
5th Groupama 40, Franck Cammas, 75 points
6th Rumbo Almeria, Guillermo Altadill, 54 points
7th Red Bull Extreme Sailing, Roman Hagara, 49 points
8th Emirates Team New Zealand, Dean Barker, 47 points

Overall Standings Extreme Sailing Series™ 2010
Team / Skipper / Points

1st The Wave, Muscat, Paul Campbell-James, 28 points
2nd Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, Yann Guichard, 27 points
3rd Ecover Sailing Team, Mike Golding, 25 points
4th Oman Sail Masirah, Loick Peyron, 24 points
5th Groupama 40, Franck Cammas, 13 points
6th Red Bull Extreme Sailing, Roman Hagara, 13 points
7th The Ocean Racing Club, Mitch Booth, 7 points
8th Team GAC Pindar, Nick Moloney, 3 points

Paul Campbell-James and Muscat Crew Wins Extreme 40 Cowes (Photo by Mark LLoyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events)

Paul Campbell-James and The Wave, Muscat Crew Wins Extreme 40 Cowes (Photo by Mark LLoyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events)

Paul Campbell-James on The Wave, Muscat has won the UK Round of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week – the first ever regatta win for the youngest skipper on the circuit – claiming an OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean watch as part of the prize as top Skipper for the UK round.  Thirty-six races over six days in front of 60,000+ spectators – the UK round of the five-stop circuit has delivered everything that the Extreme Sailing Series is about. Spectacular, adrenalin-pumping action on the water, enthralling the thousands of spectators who packed into the Extreme Race Village at Egypt Point and along The Esplanade.

The conditions throughout the event have demanded the utmost focus and physical effort from the nine competing teams and today was no exception with 20-25 knots of south-westerly breeze across the short race course and a choppy sea state.  Classic conditions for a potential pitch-pole or capsize and the crews knew it, racing with one reef in the mainsail and an extra fifth pro crew to add a bit of extra weight. The top mark proved a dangerous turning mark as they hoisted their giant gennakers to head downwind at full pelt – the crews ready in a second to ease the sails if the bows dug into the waves too deep.

Going into the fifth and final double points race of the day, Paul Campbell-James and his crew had almost done enough to keep the lead from Britain’s Mike Golding, but they had to finish the race – zero points and Ecover would claim the top spot. As it was the team did enough, scoring a 4th in the final race, to win the UK round of the Extreme Sailing Series on 249 points: “We knew if we capsized it would be the end of the regatta so pretty pleased to get through it,” said a relieved Campbell-James on the podium. 

Extreme 40 Sailing Series Fleet (Photo by Paul Weyth/ OC Events)

Extreme 40 Sailing Series Fleet (Photo by Paul Weyth/ OC Events)

But the Ecover team is ecstatic with their second overall place, their best result to date and appreciated the home crowd support: “It’s been great to have the support from the shore – you can even hear the yells and shouts from on board the boat,” said Golding. Tornado Olympic sailors Leigh McMillan and Will Howden have bought a new performance level to Mike’s team, who stepped back to allow the McMillan take the helm. It was a shrewd move and Golding’s team are really starting to gel, and will certainly be a force to contend with in the future.  Yann Guichard’s men on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, winners at the first round in France, always excel in light airs but struggle at times in heavy conditions. A final win in the last race would have lifted their spirits to secure third overall on the podium.

A real battle developed mid-leaderboard between Loick Peyron on Oman Sail Masirah, Red Bull Extreme Sailing and Groupama 40. Only a handful of points separated these three going into the final race. Peyron secured fourth overall, although he never really got into his stride here, and Roman Hagara on Red Bull Extreme Sailing claimed 5th and although lacked consistency they, nonetheless, scored six bullets, ahead of the fastest man round the planet Franck Cammas on Groupama 40.  Groupama 40 provided the most dramatic moment of the UK round on the second day when the 40-foot catamaran careered towards the concrete sea wall without steerage. Franck and the crew had no option but to leap to safety.

Team GAC Pindar, who had the satisfaction of claiming some race wins here, proving that when they get it right they are competitive, finished in 7th place ahead of Roland Jourdain’s Veolia Environnement who is competing in the UK round as a one-off experience (for now!).  For the co-creator of the Extreme 40 class, Mitch Booth and the Team Ocean Racing Club, it proved to be a disastrous regatta, breaking their front beam ahead of the penultimate day and then having to sit and watch the other eight boats have some of the best racing this circuit has ever seen.

The Wave, Muscat’s victory here means they now share the top spot on the overall Series leaderboard with 14 points apiece.  Two points behind Oman Sail Masirah on 12 points.

Next stop for the Extreme Sailing Series is Kiel in Germany between 26-29 August.

Franck Cammas and Groupama 40 Crew In The Water After Collision with Boat and Wall ( Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events )

Franck Cammas and Groupama 40 Crew In The Water After Collision with Boat and Wall ( Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events )

There was plenty of dramatic action on day two of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week today. With 18-20 knots of breeze, gusting over 20 at times, the nine teams were racing right on the edge, demanding 100% concentration and a constant rush of adrenalin for both the sailors and the spectators from the near capsizes, near misses and some not so near misses…
 
In race 11 (the fourth inshore race of today), approaching the windward mark Yann Guichard’s Groupe Edmond de Rothschild hit Franck Cammas’ Groupama 40 wiping out both rudders, leaving Groupama with no steerage whatsoever. Groupama 40 were heading straight for the shore at speed and for safety the crew leapt into the water to avoid the impact of hitting the sea wall – deciding they would prefer getting wet than being thrown forward on the boat and potentially injuring themselves. Groupama 40 has sustained both rudder and daggerboard damage and it will be a long night for the shore team to get them back racing tomorrow. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild has lodged a protest which the jury will hear and award redress if relevant.

 

 
Paul Campbell-James, the youngest skipper on the circuit at just 28, ensured The Wave, Muscat finished inside the top four in today’s races including the morning offshore race and the five inshore races this afternoon held off Egypt Point. Two wins this afternoon, two seconds and two third places put them top of the Extreme Sailing Series leaderboard on 85 points: “We got good starts which is a big part of today and we were pushing really hard downwind when we needed to. Sometimes we were so close to capsizing but you have to push it hard at times and back off at others.”

Yesterday, British skipper Mike Golding said he didn’t mind if they didn’t score any ‘bullets’ today, stating finishing inside the top four was more important. But his helm Leigh McMillan and the crew had other ideas – posting a win in the offshore race in the morning, then two further bullets in the penultimate and ultimate race of the day to finish in second place with 80 points. This kept the home crowd, who packed into the Extreme Bar and along the shoreline, happy as they cheered Golding’s crew all the way.

The Wave, Muscat At Cowes Week Extreme 40 Sailing (Photo by Paul Wyeth /  OC Events)

The Wave, Muscat At Cowes Week Extreme 40 Sailing (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events)

All the skippers talk about the importance of consistency but yesterday’s leader Loick Peyron on Oman Sail Masirah found his top form elusive today, only posting a third place in the second race this afternoon which leaves Peyron’s team in third place overall with 74 points – 7 points ahead of Guichard’s team in 4th.

Double Olympic Gold Medalist Roman Hagara had another day of mixed fortunes – one race win and a second place in the penultimate race, keeps them in contention in the middle of the leaderboard in 6th place, five points behind Mitch Booth’s The Ocean Racing Club who did well in this morning’s offshore finishing in second. Another frustrating day for Roland Jourdain’s Veolia Environnement who had rudder problems before the start of the first race then had to drop the mainsail between races to sort out another problem. The team unpracticed in the art of Extreme 40 racing, put a reef in early and raced cautiously throughout the afternoon, although the 1989 Formula 40 World Champion demonstrated why he clinched that title with a couple of great starts.

Oman Sail In Muscat (Photo by Lloyd Images/Oman Sail)

Oman Sail In Muscat (Photo by Lloyd Images/Oman Sail)

In just ten days time the final of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia will kick off at The Wave, Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, with six international teams competing for the inaugural title. The Series will end on a high with the Extreme Beach Party, a two day grand finale for the public over the Omani weekend.

Khamis Al Anbouri, bowman on Oman Sail Masirah, currently topping the leaderboard, is looking forward to returning to his home port. “We are pumped up and ready to take on the World!” he laughed. “It’s great to be coming back to Muscat and for the home crowd to see first hand the five other top teams competing on the circuit. They are promised an awesome spectacle.”

Six teams, racing radical 40-foot catamarans, started their battle for the inaugural title in Hong Kong at the end of November, before heading to Singapore mid-December… And now they arrive in the Sultanate of Oman for the grand final that takes place from the 1st-5th February. Global brands such as Red Bull and BT back two of the racing teams, and China has also entered a team for the first time.

Going into the deciding round, Pete Cumming (GBR) and his crew onboard Oman Sail’s Masirah have a 5-point lead over Nick Moloney’s (AUS) BT, tied with new team China Team, skippered by Thierry Barot (FRA). Just one point behind them, also tied, is The Wave, Muscat, helmed by Paul Campbell-James (GBR) with Omani powerhouse Nasser Salim Al Mashari (OMA) as his bowman and newcomer to the Extreme 40 circuit, Red Bull Extreme Sailing, skippered by double Olympic Gold medallist Roman Hagara (AUT) with his Olympic crew Hans-Peter Steinacher (AUT) as tactician. In sixth place is another double Olympic Gold Medallist, Shirley Robertson (GBR) skipper of Rumbo Almería joined by double Olympic Silver Medallist Ian Walker (GBR).

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Nick Moloney on BT In London (Photo by Th Martinez/OC Events)

 
The Extreme 40 multihulls are ‘speed machines’ that race close to shore on tight courses, unlike most sailing events – and in this final event they will be competing in short, exciting, 15-minute races starting each day at The Wave, Muscat from 2pm. Race Director, Gilles Chiorri (FRA) will be throwing everything at the teams including possible speed trials, slalom courses and even some match racing – an interesting prelude to the much-anticipated mammoth multihull battle between America’s Cup antagonists Alinghi and BMW ORACLE Racing. (Note: traditionally match racing is only competed in monohull boats).

His Excellency Eng. Sultan Hamdoon Al Harthi, Head of Muscat Municipality said “The Extreme Sailing Series Asia is the first of a number of high profile sporting events that will be taking place in Oman this year and we are looking forward to watching some of the world’s best sailors compete right on our shoreline. Oman has a rich maritime heritage and this event is a perfect tool to help showcase the potential of the Sultanate as a key sailing location internationally.”

The first three days of racing will be dedicated to hosting VIPs, national and international media, while the 4th and 5th February will see Al-Hail beach, to the West of the capital Muscat, transformed into the ‘Extreme Beach Party’. Each morning from 10am there will be a five-a-side football tournament featuring members of the Omani national football team, winners of the 2009 Gulf Cup of Nations, volleyball matches, the Red Bull Street Style team for the Muscat leg of the international leg of the freestyle football competition, ‘try-sailing’ sessions, as well as family activities, food stands and entertainment.
 
Roman Hagara, skipper of Red Bull Extreme Sailing, has edged up the leaderboard, finishing second overall in Singapore after a disappointing sixth at the first event in Hong Kong where they struggled to overcome gear failure problems. “We are ready to race and proud to be invited to this beautiful country. It is not our first visit and we look forward to meet a lot of friends. I am sure that we will enjoy it. We expect a competitive but fair race.”

The Asian circuit follows hot on the heels of the award-winning Extreme Sailing Series Europe that, in just three years, has become a top five fixture in the international sailing calendar. The fleet which will race in Muscat includes three double Olympic gold medallists, a double Olympic Silver Medallist, 29 World Championship titles, 9 round the world navigations, 23 Olympic games attended and 10 America’s Cup sailors.
 
OC Events, organisers of the series, has brought the circuit to the Middle East and Asia for the first time to demonstrate the potential of a full-scale series in 2010/2011. Mark Turner, CEO of OC Group, explained, “Developing a series here in the Middle East is the next step in the evolution of this ground-breaking circuit. Never before has there been top-level racing, right in the heart of cities, within metres of the shore, designed to entertain the public, media and VIP’s – not just other sailors. It’s unique for the cities and it is unique for our sport.

“The GCC region is ideal for high-integrity sailing events and we are bringing the circuit here to demonstrate to key stakeholders and the media what a full scale circuit with top level on-water action coupled with high-end VIP corporate hospitality and an all-inclusive shore side entertainment package can deliver. The Muscat event promises to be a spectacular conclusion to this inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia.”

The Extreme Sailing Series Asia: Muscat is supported by the Muscat Municipality and Oman Sail, the Ministry of Tourism backed initiative to reignite the Sultanate’s maritime heritage and inspire young Omanis to achieve their potential through sailing.

Current standings after two events:

1 – Oman Sail Masirah: Pete Cumming (GBR)
2 – BT: Nick Moloney (AUS)
3 – China Team: Thierry Barot (FRA)
4 – The Wave, Muscat: Paul Campbell-James (GBR)
5 – Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team: Roman Hagara (AUT)
6 – Rumbo Almería: Shirley Robertson (GBR)

Extreme Sailing Series Asia Fleet (Photo by Guy Nowell/OC Events)

Extreme Sailing Series Asia Fleet (Photo by Guy Nowell/OC Events)

Extreme 40 Sailing In Hong Kong (Photo by Marco Hong/OC Events )

Extreme 40 Sailing In Hong Kong (Photo by Marco Hong/OC Events )

As the inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia gets off to a successful start in Hong Kong (20-24 November), OC Events, organisers of the Extreme Sailing Series, take a look back at the highlights of the 2009 iShares Cup, revealing the key statistics from the series third season, and preview the 2010 European Extreme Sailing Series.
 
For the planned six events in 2010, four countries are already confirmed, with events taking place in the UK, Germany, France and Spain. Venue announcements will be made over the coming months, but it can be confirmed today that the final round of the Extreme Sailing Series 2010 will take place in the region of Andalucia, Spain, at the port of Almeria over the national holiday weekend in mid-October.

Almeria hosted the 2009 finalé and recently published the results of an Economic Impact Report produced by the Council of Tourism, Commerce and Sport for Andalucia confirming that the event had generated 2.7m Euros of return on their investment. Over 75,000 spectators attended the Spanish event in October this year. A total of 15,000 tourists visited the city, 92% visiting because of the event and 80% of visitors expressed their intention to return. Hotel occupancy was up by 19.2 per cent compared to the same time in 2008, with more than 606,000 overnight stays. The visitors scored the event 8.1 points out of 10, considering the event to be ‘well organised’.

Seven teams who competed in the 2009 European series have already expressed their commitment to return in 2010 ahead of the publication of the official Notice of Race.

Extreme Sailing Series Racing In Hong Kong (Photo by Guy Nowell/OC Events)

Extreme Sailing Series Racing In Hong Kong (Photo by Guy Nowell/OC Events)

The full media evaluation report of the 2009 iShares Cup will be published shortly by independent agency Havas Insight. In the meantime, enjoy some of the key statistics from the highly successful 2009 circuit that saw 48 of the world’s best sailors compete in 108 races across six European venues with only two capsizes, compared to five in 2008, but six collisions…!

To find out more about the current Extreme Sailing Series Asia, CLICK HERE…

2009 FACTS AND FIGURES:

Entries:

BT (EUR) – Nick Moloney (AUS)
Ecover (EUR) – Mike Golding (GBR)
Holmatro (NED) – Carolijn Brouwer (BEL)
iShares (EUR) – Shirley Robertson (GBR)
Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild (FRA) – Yann Guichard (FRA)
Groupama 40 (FRA) – Franck Cammas (FRA)
LUNA (FRA) – Erik Maris (FRA)
Oman Sail Masirah (OMA) – Pete Cumming (GBR)
Oman Sail Renaissance (OMA) – Loïck Peyron (FRA)
BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) – James Spithill (AUS) (Venice/Hyères only)
WIRSOL Team Germany Kiel Sailing City – Roland Gabler (GER) (Kiel only)
Rumbo Almeria – Fernando Echavarri (ESP) (Almeria only)

Sailors:

48 sailors across 12 teams
52 World Championships
17 Olympians
7 Olympic medalists (4 Gold)
27 America’s Cup participations
17 Round the World navigations
11 different nationalities

Racing:

108 races: Venice 17; Hyéres 19; Cowes 20; Kiel 19; Amsterdam 17: Almeria 16

Regatta wins: Oman Sail Masirah 4 (Hyéres, Cowes, Kiel, Almeria); Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild 2 (Venice, Amsterdam)

Number of 1st places: Oman Sail Masirah 36; Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild 19; Oman Sail Renaissance 16 (9 out of the 12 teams, all scored 1 or more race wins during the season)

Best number of race wins per venue: Oman Sail Masirah 11 (Cowes); Oman Sail Renaissance 5 (Kiel, Amsterdam); Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild 5 (Almeria)

2 capsizes: Holmatro at Cowes (practice day); Ecover at Kiel, day 1 (5 capsizes in 2008)

6 collisions: Oman Sail Renaissance hit Ecover (Hyéres); Team iShares hit spectator boat (Cowes); Oman Sail Renaissance hit WIRSOL Team Germany (Kiel) and Gitana Extreme hit WIRSOL Team Germany (Kiel); Oman Sail Renaissance hit Ecover (Amsterdam, practice day); BT hit Oman Sail Masirah (Amsterdam)

7 disqualifications: Groupama 40 (Venice); Oman Sail Renaissance (Kiel); Holmatro, Team iShares and BT (Amsterdam); LUNA and Team iShares (Almeria)

Venues:

Venice, Italy
Hyeres-TPM, France
Cowes, England
Kiel, Germany
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Almeria, Spain

(2007 x 4 rounds / 2008 x 5 rounds)

Spectators (estimated):

2009 200,000

(2007 57,000 / 2008 150,000)

VIP entertainment:

2,124 VIP guests were entertained in the VIP facilities at the six events in 2009

93% of VIP guests agreed that the iShares Cup fell within the top three events they had ever attended.

Misarah Crew With Trophy  (Photo by Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OCEvents)

Misarah Crew With Trophy (Photo by Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OCEvents)

Oman Sail Masirah has won the iShares Cup 2009, but it came down to the last leg of the last race on the last day of the last regatta at the iShares Cup Almeria in Spain, with Gitana Extreme-LCF Rothschild pushing Oman Sail Masirah right to the very last minute with a superb final performance. Pete Cumming and his crew held their nerve despite the strong comeback of Yann Guichard and the Gitana Extreme crew who took 2nd overall with Loick Peyron’s Oman Sail Renaissance completing the 2009 podium. Tens of thousands of spectators, the biggest stadium audience of the year, packed the port of Almeria to witness the heart-stopping tension of the final race of the season. No hull flying today, but heart stopping it still was!

Masirah completed a six-month trail of glory with a double victory in Almeria as thousands watched. All crew members put in a performance which overshadowed all efforts from other teams to not only take the victory in the Almeria leg of the iShares Cup but the title of 2009 iShares Cup champions!

Renaissance also battled hard until the last minute to take an admirable fourth overall in the Almeria leg ensuring a double Oman victory as they took third place in the 2009 iShares Cup series.

The culmination of six venues and 118 races all boiled down to the last race on the last day of the last venue as ten boats all lined up, but only three were in contention for the 2009 iShares Cup title.  The electricity in the air from the 40,000 spectators, including Her Excellency Dr. Rajiha Bint Abdulameer Bin Ali, Oman’s Minister of Tourism, His Excellency Eng. Sultan Hamdoon al Harthi, Head of Muscat Municipality and the Municipal Council as well as His Excellency Oman’s Ambassador to Spain was flowing as the start gun went for the first race. Masirah got off to a near-perfect start and led all the way and maintained their lead throughout the day. In the final race Masirah had a marginal lead, but not enough to rest on their laurels. In the last race Masirah wisely opted to keep the only other contender for the top podium position at this stage, Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild, in their sights to ensure their overall win.
As the finishing horn was sounded for Masirah’s finish a huge cheer went up from the crowded waterfront as the new heroes were given a standing ovation and applause.

Renaissance sailed on the edge all day to score an equally credible third overall to bookmark the podium with the proud colours of the Oman flag. To have not one, but two teams, on the podium in such a high profile international event is testament to the support in Oman given to the teams and the aspirations of reigniting the maritime heritage of Oman. Her Excellency Dr, Rajiha Bint Abdulameer Bin Ali, was incredibly proud of both teams, “I am so proud to have been able to watch Oman Sail’s Masirah winning the series in front of thousands of spectators in Spain. I dedicate this victory to the wise leadership of His Majesty and his vision in bringing this project into fruition. I want to thank all the team in Oman sail and in particular the team on Masirah for reaching first place – it was not an easy victory. I didn’t realise how difficult this was until I came to Spain and watch Oman racing myself. My congratulations to the team.” His Excellency Eng. Sultan Hamdoon al Harthi was just as impressed by the victory that unfolded in front of him, “It is a matter of pride for Oman that Masirah and Renaissance dominated the iShares Cup, not just in Spain but also the entire series. To win first and third overall is a result of unprecedented performance.”

misarah-crew-celebrate

Misarah Crew Celebrate ( Photo by Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OCEvents )

 
Two Omani trainees have supported the teams during the summer, both of whom will now be sailing for Oman Sail in the next series themselves. Masirah team member Khamis Al Anbouri summed up the mood of the team  “Winning the iShares Cup is just one of Oman Sail’s steps in encouraging young Omanis to start sailing and showing them the hard work required to achieve success. I am very proud to be part of this team and I look forward to competing now in the next series as a full crewmember. I would also like to thank my wife for all her support and encouragement as I strive to become the very best and to make Oman a household name. Congratulations also to Ahmad Al Harthy for his result this weekend- a truly proud weekend for Oman!”

 
Oman Sail Masirah has won the iShares Cup 2009, but it came down to the last leg of the last race on the last day of the last regatta at the iShares Cup Almeria in Spain, with Gitana Extreme – LCF Rothschild pushing Oman Sail Masirah right to the very last minute with a superb final performance.

Almeria’s usually strong winds never materialized, with light winds adding to the nerves of the 10 teams challenging for the Andulician final event of this benchmark season for the Extreme 40 Sailing Series.

Tens of thousands of spectators, the biggest stadium audience of the year, packed the port of Almeria to witness the heart-stopping tension of the double points final race of the season. No hull flying today, heart stopping it still was!

iShares Cup Almeria:
1. Oman Sail Masirah 132 points
2. Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild 129 points
3. Groupama Extreme 112 points
4. Oman Sail Renaissance 96 points
5. LUNA 96 points
6. Team iShares 83 points
7. Holmatro 82 points
8. BT 79 points
9. Rumbo Almeria 73 points
10. Ecover 89 points

iShares Cup 2009 overall:
1. Oman Sail Masirah 53 points
2. Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild 52 points
3. Oman Sail Renaissance 42 points
4. Groupama Extreme 41 points
5. Team iShares 27 points
6. BT 26 points
7. LUNA 26 points
8. Holmatro 24 points
9. Ecover 10 points

iShares Fleet in (Photo by Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OCevents)

iShares Fleet in (Photo by Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OCevents)

BT Extreme 40 In Amsterdam (Photo by Thierry Martinez /Sea & Co/BT Team Ellen)

BT Extreme 40 In Amsterdam (Photo by Thierry Martinez /Sea & Co/BT Team Ellen)

 

 

Both BT boats and crews are in the final stages of preparation for the biggest events of their season… There is just a week to go before the final event of the iShares Cup in Almeria, Spain and Nick Moloney and the BT Extreme 40 crew will have to put in a strong performance to secure their current overall 5th place. For the BT IMOCA 60 team, the countdown has started for Sébastien Josse and Jean François Cuzon who will start the double handed Transat Jacques Vabre, the pinnacle race of the IMOCA season, in just over one month…

After five events across Europe in the 2009 iShares Cup, BT is currently in 5th place just behind the world’s best multihull skippers – Loick Peyron (Oman Sail Renaisance), Franck Cammas (Groupama 40) , Yann Guichard (Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild). Not a bad place to be perhaps, but the BT team, who have finished third on the podium at the last two annual iShares Cup series, are disappointed that the podium this time is beyond their reach.  BT skipper, Nick Moloney, remains positive and knows they must put in a good performance to fend off the other teams vying for position:
“Almeria is the last event and the sailing conditions should be completely different to Kiel and Amsterdam, where we had our worst results. In Spain we will have an open race course and more wind, and we clearly are better in those conditions. We are still 5th on the overall leaderbord, we are determined and we will fight until the end of the last race!”

This Wednesday (30.9.09) BT skippers Sébastien Josse and Jean-François Cuzon took a break in their training and headed to Paris for the official press conference of the Transat Jacques Vabre. The gathering of the 14 IMOCA duos who will compete in the Transat Jacques Vabre starting on 8th November, put the race under scrutiny and an intriguing tactical option that could divide this very competitive fleet of latest generation IMOCA 60s. For Sébastien and Jean-Francois a victory in the IMOCA class of the Fastnet race was a reassuring win, but they know the competition in this year’s Transat Jacques Vabre will be intense. Racing against the likes of Michel Desjoyeaux’s Foncia,  Kito de Pavant’s Groupe Bel and Roland Jourdain’s Veolia Environnement all who have recently been sharpening their racing skills by competed in the Istanbul Europe Race.

BT Open 60 (Photo by Thierry Martinez/Sea & Co/BT Team Ellen)

BT Open 60 Sébastien Josse and Jean François Cuzon (Photo by Thierry Martinez/Sea & Co/BT Team Ellen)

 

 

Anyway, the race will be quite interesting with a lot of strategic decisions, the main one being to go North or not – I think the fleet could be divided into two groups after the start. One pack will favour the direct and shorter way, the other will try to reach the Trade Winds. With the first option we can always have surprises, we will have to wait and see if it works.
“I’m really motivated to go this way, tactics and decisions will be important, and we don’t have a lot of statistics about forecasts over there. This is a new challenge for the Transat Jacques Vabre, and the competitors’ level of enthusiasm and interest has risen with that new factor.”

 

In September 2007, Ellen launched the BT Team Ellen project in Paris – a three-year partnership with BT through to 2010. The project includes the BT IMOCA 60 skippered by French skipper, Sébastien Josse, and Nick Moloney, skipper of the BT Extreme 40. Ellen’s sailing projects include the Archipelago Raid on the BT F18 plus helming the BT Extreme 40 in the Round the Island Race as well as supporting BT’s CSR worldwide programme and continuing with her commitment to pursuing and communicating how to lead a more sustainable life on land. A decade-long association with BT as communications partner to the sailing team has now matured into a well-matched title partner relationship.
 

 

 

IShares Fleet In Amsterdam (Photo by Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OCEvents)

IShares Fleet In Amsterdam (Photo by Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OCEvents)

The best breeze of the day filled in for the final three races today producing some extreme racing – close calls, collisions, penalties and a nail-biting, final double-points race – entertaining the 10,000 strong crowd lining the IJ-Haven. There were seven different race winners in this penultimate event, that was more about tactics than boat handling. Gitana Extreme sailed brilliantly under pressure to win the penultimate iShares Cup Amsterdam event ahead of Oman Sail Renaissance, whilst Groupama fought back to win the final race and fill the last spot on the podium in third. Overall series leaders, Oman Sail Masirah, put their day 1 disaster behind them, finishing 5th in Amsterdam to retain their overall lead, ahead of Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild and Oman Sail Renaissance, going into the final iShares Cup event in Almeria only two weeks away…

The nine-boat Extreme 40 fleet saved the best till last at the iShares Cup Amsterdam event today to produce a thrilling three-lap finale that had the 10,000-strong crowd of spectators cheering the boats home all the way. The penultimate round of the six-stage European iShares Cup series, held on the confined IJ-Haven canal in Amsterdam, saw predominantly light airs but finally this afternoon, a good 8 knot breeze filled in to see the 40-foot catamarans lifting their hulls. It was perfect catamaran sailing – the excitement levels going into fifth gear for both sailors and spectators. As the breeze increased the size of the IJ-Haven racecourse seemed to decrease! The boats accelerating faster round the tiny racecourse and, not surprisingly, a number of collisions ensued.

For Oman Sail Masirah skipper, Pete Cumming, the team did the job they needed to do to keep the overall series lead, despite the unsettling experience of being seriously holed on the first day:
“That was a good day for us, we won the first and the fourth race and had average results in the three others. We have been up and down during the all events but I have to say that it’s hard to keep positive and motivated after the big crash we had on Friday. Our shore team did an amazing job to fix the boat. Tonight we are on equal points with Gitana in the overall series which keeps the pressure on for the last event in Almeria. The conditions will be very different to here, more like Cowes or Kiel and it’s what we like. It’s going to be a fantastic battle for the overall iShares Cup!”

Gitana Extreme Crew (Photo by Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OCEvents)

Gitana Extreme Crew (Photo by Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OCEvents)

The stage was set for the showdown between Gitana Extreme skipper, Yann Guichard, and Oman Sail Renaissance supremo, Loick Peyron, with Guichard coming out on top. “Since the first start today we were in the game and we sailed well despite the pressure of those last races. Once again, our teamwork was key to our success. That final race was under a lot of pressure, we knew that we could not let Loïck put more than two boats between us, and we finished right behind him! It was an ideal scenario, and we’re really happy with that new victory. As we foresaw, everything will unfold in Almeria. We really wanted to win in Amsterdam not to regret anything, and to fight for victory, The top three boats are now one point apart, and the fight between Masirah, Renaissance and ourselves will be amazing. I also wanted to congratulate the Oman Sail Masirah team, who came back strong despite their incident.”

Erik Maris’ crew on LUNA showed flashes of brilliance during round 5 scoring a race win and a second place that left them in 7th place; whilst Nick Moloney’s BT team struggled with boat speed and had to settle for 8th. Britain’s Mike Golding, who is gaining confidence in this extremely aggressive class, thrilled his supporters with a second place in the final race – Fraser Brown leaping to his feet rousing the crowd to cheer more! It was a great finish for this team who had such a traumatic time in round 4 in Kiel suffering an aggressive capsize that left their regular crew Bruno Dubois with a serious head injury.

The final round of the 2009 iShares Cup is only two weeks away, taking place in the Andalucian city of Almeria over the 10th-12th October. The finale promises to be best yet – read the story online.
Oman Sail Masirah and Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild are on equal points (43), Masirah in pole position based on winning three of the rounds so far compared to Gitana Extreme’s two victories, but Oman Sail Renaissance are just 1 point behind them and Groupama 10 points behind the leader. And there will be a big fight over the middle-ground with less than 3 points separating BT, Team iShares, Holmatro and LUNA. Don’t miss it!