|Thousands of spectators as far as the eye could see lined the Cowes shoreline to watch the Extreme 40 fleet racing on day 2 of the iShares Cup at Cowes Week. The action was spectacular and the crowds loved it - roaring their appreciation at every photo finish! “It's brilliant! I don't normally watch sailing and I'm not from this area - I'm from West Yorkshire - but we came down last year and was really impressed so decided to make a holiday of it this year and see the Extreme 40s. They are the best boats! They are the Formula 1 machines so we're really looking forward to it,” said one member of the crowd, Susan May.
The nine-boat fleet playing 'who dares wins', coming as close to the shore as possible to avoid the adverse Solent tide, ensured the public had a ‘grandstand’ view of the action. Sunshine and a brisk westerly provided a great combination that saw Oman Sail's Masirah finish first or second in every race cementing their stronghold on round 3 of the iShares Cup. Bowman and powerhouse Freddie Carr commented: “We knew it was going to be a big day for breeze and we’ve put in so many hours in Muscat that we enjoy the big breeze. We’re really pleased with our boat handling and like Chris [Draper - helmsman] said, although it was ridiculously hard we know that there are 9 other boats out on the water finding it just as hard, if not harder.
“I love it in Cowes - it’s like taking a Formula 1 car onto a small go-cart track! The crowds have been unbelievable… Normally in sailing you are far offshore, slugging away but here you’re screaming down The Green and off Egypt Point and you hear people cheering you. They are not necessarily supporting the boat but just supporting the event and they are just into all the action out on the water. It doesn’t matter if you are a sailing fan or not as it ticks all the boxes for a great afternoon.
“I come from an America’s Cup programme but I have never been more exhausted - I’m in bits! It is by far and away the most physical racing you can do, but I guess that’s why we love it!”
Yann Guichard’s crew on Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild are challenging the Masirah team, taking a win in the final race today by a ‘nose’. And Masirah’s stablemate at Oman Sail, Renaissance, occupy third place on the overall podium after today’s eight races.
But it turned out to be a punishing day for some of the Extreme 40 crews and their boats… Team iShares have a broken gennaker pole and superficial damage to their bow after a collision with a private spectator RIB. One of the passengers on the RIB, Dorothy Haslam, required medical treatment. She received immediate, preliminary first aid assistance on the water before being transferred to shore and admitted to Newport Hospital. It was later confirmed that Mrs Hallam had suffered bruising and is recovering well. The iShares Cup Race Direction Team is currently undertaking an assessment of how the incident occurred.
As a result Team iShares had to sit out all of today’s racing, but plan to be back on the water tomorrow. Carolijn Brouwer on Holmatro had a frustrating day - sitting out two races while they repaired a broken cover on their mainsail halyard - then retired in the final race with headsail damage. And BT broke their forestay in the final race and had to settle for fifth place overnight on equal points with Luna who scored their first race win of the series today.
Tomorrow is another day, but it is the final day of the UK round of the iShares Cup… Can either Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild or Oman Sail's Renaissance break Masirah's stronghold? Find out tomorrow…