Masirah takes Hyeres
Before start of play on the final day of Round 2 of the iShares Cup Hyères-TPM, there was some expectation that the breeze had settled in direction early and would deliver more wind strength. Overnight leaders Oman Sail’s Masirah sent helm Chris Draper up the mast to adjust the rig tension. The atmosphere on the dock was intense – the five front-runners knew they could all be in contention for the Round 2 iShares Cup title. James Spithill and his crew onboard BMW Oracle Racing were subdued and tense, the Oman Sail crews on Masirah and Renaissance seemed visibly more relaxed, and Franck Cammas ( Groupama) wanted desperately to get back in the game. With only six races on the table and a double points final race – the teams knew they would need to be good right from the start.
The first two races saw the breeze change direction (south-west) and soften (6-8 knots) and it was Shirley Robertson, Team iShares, who led off the start line to score their first morale-boosting win of the regatta. BMW Oracle Racing and Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild (Yann Guichard) that took second and third but the Oman Sail teams only managed 5th ( Renaissance) and 8th for ( Masirah). Were the tables about to be turned?
Not yet: the next race saw order restored… Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild, 1st; Loick Peyron (Oman Sail Renaissance), who had to sit out yesterday’s racing due to a damaged rudder, 2nd; and Oman Sail Masirah 3rd. Briton Mike Golding scored his best result of the event so far with a fourth place for Ecover: “We know we are new and we don’t want to put ourselves deliberately into a difficult situation,” said Golding. “But on the other hand if you want to make any impression on this high calibre fleet eventually you have to make some tough decisions and go in some places that are inherently dangerous to be!”
By race 4, there had been a change on the leaderboard - a victory from Spithill’s crew put them ahead of Peyron by 2 points. Pete Cumming’s crew were not making things easy for themselves with a 7th place but still maintained the top slot overall. Heading into the penultimate race and, with a double-points finale, it was still an open game. Oman Sail Masirah won the penultimate race ahead of Groupama and Luna. Guichard will have been furious with his last place in this penultimate race, which put him out of contention for the overall Round 2 win.
Going into the final ‘double points’ race Oman Sail Masirah needed to finish higher than 7th place to secure victory in Round 2 of the iShares Cup Hyères-TPM. No one was surprised to see James Spithill covering Loick Peyron at the start leaving them at the back of the fleet, but Spithill went on to helm a blinding final race to cross the finish line in first. For Loick Peyron on Oman Sail Renaissance – they got back in the race but problems furling their gennaker ruined their chances. With those two teams covering each other early, this allowed Oman Sail’s Masirah to escape, and Pete Cumming and his crew with Chris Draper steering crossed the finish line in third place taking Round 2 in emphatic form.
"Brilliant result – all last year we hoped we could do it but fell short. In the final race, we just kept our heads down, stayed focused and stayed out of trouble. We've got it right here and great to get this result," said Cumming. "Chris and Mark did a great job at the back of the boat, and Freddie and I just backed them up best we could. It really felt that for the first time it has come together after our winter training in Oman. Last year we suffered from not keeping out of trouble – we've grown up a bit and know when to keep out of trouble and when to push."
There was some compensation for BMW Oracle Racing though, after their result here in Round 2 they have now taken overall lead in the iShares Cup 2009 circuit. Oman Sail Masirah move into second place and Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild are in third overall after two rounds. Next stop Cowes in the UK from 1-3 August…
|2||BMW ORACLE Racing||1||8||3||10||2||5||5||2||2||3||3||1||1||2||6||7||1||5||1||151|
|4||Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild||5||3||8||5||7||7||1||4||1||1||5||2||7||3||1||3||5||10||5||132|