Masirah clinch it
Oman Sail Masirah has won the iShares Cup 2009, but it came down to the last leg of the last race on the last day of the last regatta at the iShares Cup Almeria in Spain, with Yann Guichard's
Gitana Extreme-LCF Rothschild pushing Pete Cumming's team of helmsman Chris Draper, Mark Bulkeley and Freddie Carr right to the very last minute with a superb final performance. Cumming and his crew held their nerve despite a strong comeback by the French team.
In addition Almeria’s usually strong winds never materialised, with light conditions adding to the nerves for the ten teams challenging for the Andulician final event of the 2009 iShares for the Extreme 40s.
Franck Cammas’ Groupama 40 crew finished third on the event leaderboard ahead of Oman Sail Renaissance, although skipper Loick Peyron had the comfort of claiming third spot on the overall iShares Cup 2009 leaderboard ahead of Cammas, his old adversary from the ORMA circuit.
Shirley Robertson’s Team iShares sailed an excellent regatta to win the mid-leaderboard battle ahead Nick Moloney and BT and Eric Maris' Luna, to finish 5th overall.
Tens of thousands of spectators, the biggest stadium audience of the year, packed the port of Almeria to witness the heart-stopping tension of the double points final race of the season. No hull flying today, but heart stopping it still was!
The Masirah crew leapt with joy as they crossed the line. Cumming commented: “I’ve been dreaming of this for two years taking part and racing against the best in the world. I was choked up thinking about it this morning as I walked down to the boat and since Amsterdam I’ve been losing sleep because I couldn’t bear to think of not winning it. Finally, I’ve gone from the most stressed man in Spain to the happiest man in Spain! It means the world to me, it is the highlight of my sailing career. When I turned up in Paris for the launch of the 2009 series, I felt a bit of a misfit looking at all these other legends on the roll call. Now I feel proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these guys having competed with them and beaten them.
“All credit to Chris, Mark and Freddie - the guys have been absolutely amazing. We had a real shake up earlier in the day when we snapped our furler line and we just dealt with it really professionally, we sorted the problem and came back out and won a race. A big thank you to the whole team of Oman Sail as well who have been behind us the whole way.”
“We knew if they ( Gitana Extreme) won the last race we had to be fith to win overall so we didn’t do anything ultra aggressive just stayed close to them. Yann, and the boys, what more could they do…they won three races today including the final double points race. They did everything they had to do but we just stayed on their coat-tails.
Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild who won two of the iShares Cup rounds this season, have been admirable opponents.
Runner-up Yann Guichard commented: “We're happy, albeit a little disappointed by the final result, but we were beaten by guys who were stronger than us this season. We have nothing to regret, I think that today we gave everything we had, we had a very good day apart from that OCS that might cost us the final victory, but that's the way the game goes. Our team's strength is to never give up, and I really want to tip my hat off to the whole crew. The overall level was very high, and I hope that next year we'll be back to climb one more step on the podium.”
The final event of the six-stage European iShares Cup 2009 series has been a spectacular and showcase event both on the water and on land. Double Olympic Gold medallist Shirley Robertson, skipper of Team iShares, was delighted with the team’s fifth place overall and the reception that all the teams received from the public in Almeria: “We were really chuffed and it was a little bit of a surprise when we called up to the podium because the points had been so close and we have been mixing it with the same boats almost from Venice – Holmatro, Luna and BT - so it’s really good. From the moment we arrived in Almeria to rig the boats the atmosphere has been great and the local people have been right behind this event. It’s a great area for sailing and a fantastic amphitheatre, and we’ve loved having the crowds. It has felt like a real sporting event and every time we sailed passed the wall we had a big cheer for iShares – I loved it!”
More photos on the following pages....
Results - Almeria iShares Cup
iShares Cup 2009 - overall leaderboard