Omani day

Chris Draper and his Masirah leads after the opening day of racing in Hyeres at the iShares Cup

Saturday July 4th 2009, Author: Jocelyn Bleriot, Location: United Kingdom
The sailors knew that the Hyères event would present a different scenario to the light winds of Venice. For starters, there is open water, although the short courses were kept well within visibility of the public, then there is the ‘sea breeze’ that builds throughout the afternoon as the land mass heats up. So with the conditions very different from Round 1 in Venice, the game has taken on a different complexion. iShares Cup Event Director, Gilles Chiorri: “By race 3 we saw a big wind shift and a lot more pressure so lots of speed and action on the course with the hulls flying all the time. The game is quite open – Round 1 winners Gitana won some and lost some, but it was the two Oman Sail boats that were the strongest today. The courses are short so half of the game is 1 minute before the start and 1 minute after, then you just rely on the difficulties of the others to get back in the game. There were quite a few penalties today - 6 or 7 - the racing is quite aggressive.”

After six races, Oman Sail’s Masirah had monopolised the finish line and now lead with 55 points, only one point ahead of BT (46 points) and Oman Sail Renaissance (45 points). Chris Draper helm of Oman Sail’s Masirah: “It was a good day - we had a nice rhythm going and we just kept it going. We made sure we had a back-up plan if we didn’t get a good start – that happened a couple of times and that served us well. Great effort from the team, really good teamwork and we had our Oman compatriot Khamis [Al-Anbouri] onboard - he seems to be our lucky charm!”

Loick Peyron added: "It was a glorious day, with ideal conditions on the water... and the boys have really played it well. They were very clever on the starts, and generally they sailed better than everyone else, no doubt about that, hats off! As far as we're concerned, I was looking for consistency and put my brains to work quite intensely. There was plenty going on to keep us entertained, and I'm very pleased with our team spirit."

Groupama raced more consistently and claimed 4th place (38 points) but only one point separates them from BMW ORACLE (37 points) as James Spithill and his crew - despite winning the first race - then posted an 8th and 10th, which proved their undoing.

There have been a few crew changes for Round 2 due to the other commitments of some of the 'regulars' within four teams. Aboard Gitana Extreme, Dutch offshore specialist Simeon Tienpont has been momentarily ‘lent’ by BMW Oracle to replace Hervé Cunnigham. Extreme 40 class co-creator Mitch Booth stands in for an injured Darren Bundock as BT skipper Nick Moloney explained: “Darren has been very difficult to replace but we have managed to replace an 11-times World Champion with a 10-times World Champion – a stroke of luck on our part!” On Holmatro, Australian Anthony Nossiter steps in to replace Gerd Habermüller on the bow - Anthony lists 'rounding Cape Horn nude' as one of his three major achievements! Finally, Gilberto Nobili steps aboard iShares in replacement of trimmer Jonathan MacBeth.

More photos on the following pages...

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