Taking place during Cowes Week, one of the oldest sailing regattas that each year gathers together nearly a thousand yachts, the third stage of the iShares Cup was reminiscent of a picture postcard today. From the terrace rigged up on the esplanade in Cowes, privileged spectators were able to view the Extreme 40 races up close, whilst a multitude of multicoloured sails created a magnificent backdrop.
It was an enchanting setting, though it didn’t prevent more fearsome battling on the water. In a medium wind of around fifteen knots, a series of tacks and gybes ensued for what was almost four hours. To spice things up still further, the current also played its part. In these conditions, the crew’s cohesion and its capacity to link the manœuvres together cleanly were certainly the keys to its success: “Despite still being a little hesitant in our starts, we had a good day’s sailing thanks to some very good teamwork onboard. With the current and the chop we encountered, the tacks and as a result the numerous stalls as we powered ourselves up again can prove very disadvantageous. However, I think we’re one of the best crews at getting out of these situations and that’s a great help. Tomorrow, we’re going to need to be more incisive at the starts as it’s evident that we’ve been lacking in this area since the beginning. However, we did win the last race of the day which is highly motivating…”
Yann Guichard and his men pulled off a blinding performance today by going up a place in the provisional ranking. They pipped Loïck Peyron at the post and this evening he has a two point deficit on the one design equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. In the lead we find Oman Sail Masirah, which remains untouchable in these breezy conditions. Pete Cumming’s crew are more than holding onto their lead from yesterday and are even starting to streak away - 34 points over Gitana Extreme – thanks to four more race wins on this second day.
However, things haven’t been peachy for all the competitors. Indeed, Shirley Robertson’s crew suffered a mishap on the first stretch of the first race: as they were sailing close-hauled bound for the windward mark, iShares hit a spectator rib. The collision caused more fright than damage, but unfortunately it forced the English one design to withdraw for the day.
Tomorrow will see the final day’s racing of the Cowes Grand Prix with the initial start planned for 1400 hours. Like today, the wind is set to shake up the nine crews and we shall have to wait until the end of the day before we find out who is the outright winner of this third act 2009.