Everything will be decided in Almeria!
The final curtain will fall in the iShares Cup 2009 this coming Monday and the three days of racing in Almeria, from Saturday 10th to Monday 12th October, will serve as Justice of the Peace given the minimal separation between the top three boats and the current impossibility of drawing any conclusions. For this 6th and final event of the championship the tension is at its height and competitors will need nerves of steel to assert their authority. The crew of Gitana Extreme – LCF Rothschild is already on zone to prepare themselves as best they can for this last confrontation.

Event winners in Venice and Amsterdam, Yann Guichard and his three crew are neck and neck with Pete Cumming’s men, the latter victorious in the other three Grands Prix of the season. However, despite sharing the bulk of the medals this year, Gitana Extreme – LCF Rothschild Group and Oman Sail Masirah won’t be alone in being a pretender to ultimate victory this weekend. Indeed, Loïck Peyron’s crew is waiting in ambush just a point behind the top duo. “It’s extremely motivating to be tied on points with Oman Masirah. This position kick starts the race for the title again and I have to say that, given the deficit we had prior to the event in Amsterdam, it’s pretty remarkable to find ourselves in this situation. It gives the crew of Gitana Extreme – LCF Rothschild Group an even greater incentive to excel ourselves!” admitted Yann Guichard, just hours before setting off for Spain.

The situation is clear then. In order to take gold in the iShares Cup 2009, there is some particularly tight racing in store for Yann Guichard and his crew. However, these four sailors have already demonstrated that they can handle the pressure and transcend themselves on atypical race zones which are hard to read. Mathematically, the equation appears simple: the men aboard the one design equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild must rank higher than Pete Cumming’s Spanish crew at all costs and only let a single, solitary boat slip in between themselves and Oman Renaissance. One thing for sure though is that they will have to put in a solid performance this weekend and keep a cool head: “We’re specifically targeting the overall ranking but we mustn’t let that stop us from sailing in the same way as we have done thus far” explained the skipper of Gitana Extreme before explaining his view of the event as a whole: “The competition has been fierce throughout the season and the event in Amsterdam showed once again that on a closed race zone, everyone is in with a chance. As such you have to be on the alert all the way to the finish and sail cleanly without making any mistakes to make it to the top of the table and be in with a chance of winning the championship. However, on the iShares Cup playing fields you also have to anticipate and control the elements surrounding the race zone to do well!” The battle plan for the men of Gitana Team is ready, so now all that remains is for them to apply themselves on the waters of Andalusia from this Saturday onwards.

Not leaving anything to chance, Yann Guichard and Sylvain Mondon – weather adviser for the Gitana Team – have together been examining the weather charts of Southern Spain for several days to determine the general trend for this 6th and final stage of the season: “As far as the weather conditions are concerned, things look to be shaping up for a light thermal breeze, which will pick up over the course of the afternoon. However, it will all depend on exactly where the race zones are because there will be a considerable difference between races contested inside or outside the port of Almeria.”

Crew of Gitana Extreme - LCF Rothschild Group
Yann Guichard (skipper-helm)
Pierre Pennec (mainsail traveller trimmer, tactics), Christophe Lassegue (headsail trimmer, control of manœuvres) and Hervé Cunningham (headsail trimmer, control of manœuvres)

Ten teams present in Almeria for the final
BT (Nick Moloney) - Ecover (Mike Golding) - Groupama 40 (Franck Cammas) - Holmatro (Mitch Booth) - iShares (Shirley Robertson) - Luna (Erik Maris) - Oman Sail Masirah (Pete Cumming) - Oman Sail Renaissance (Loïck Peyron)  - Rumba Almeria (Fernando Echavarri) and Gitana Extreme – LCF Rothschild Group (Yann Guichard)

Provisional championship ranking prior to the 6th and final event
1/ Oman Sail Masirah – 43 points (4th, 1st, 1st, 1st, 5th)
2/ Gitana Extreme- LCF Rothschild Group – 43 points (1st, 4th, 2nd, 4th, 1st)
3/Oman Sail Renaissance – 42 points (3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 2nd)
4/ Groupama 40 – 33 points (5th, 5th, 6th, 3rd, 3rd)
5/ BT – 23 points (6th, 6th, 4th, 8th, 8th)
6/ iShares – 22 points (9th, 7th, 5th, 6th, 6th)
7/ Holmatro – 20 points (8th, 8th, 8th, 7th, 4th)
8/ Luna – 20 points (7th, 9th, 7th, 5th, 7th)
9/ BMW Oracle – 18 points (2nd, 2nd, DNC, DNC, DNC, DNC, DNC)
10/ Ecover – 8 points (10th, 10th, 9th, 10th, 9th)

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