Victory for Alicante

As Randy Smyth's Delta Lloyd/Tommy Hilfiger fall foul of protect at conclusion of the Extreme 40 Grand Prix

Saturday October 11th 2008, Author: Helen Fretter, Location: United Kingdom
Alicante got the 2008 Extreme 40 Grand Prix off to a great beginning, as the fleet entertained thousands of visitors to the Volvo Ocean Race start - and the home boat, , lifted the trophy for round one of the four-event series.

After four days of fantastically close battles on the water, in the end the Extreme 40 Series - Alicante Grand Prix was decided on shore. As the six Extreme 40s docked after racing yesterday, both Alicante 2008-09 and Delta Lloyd/Tommy Hilfiger were tied on equal points. But following a protest hearing yesterday evening Randy Smyth and crew on Delta Lloyd/ Tommy Hilfiger were disqualified from the final race, dropping them two points back into second overall.

Today, after a tense wait for an ease in the 30-knot breezes battering the Spanish port, race organisers had no choice but to abandon racing as conditions failed to abate this afternoon - handing victory to Alicante 2008-09. The new team of skipper JC Mourniac, Johnny Hutchcroft, Peter Greenhalgh and John Casey had topped the leaderboard for much of the week, despite only sailing together for the first time just before Race 1. "What a brilliant result!" said Johnny Hutchcroft, who trims headsail on Alicante 2008-09. "We've been on tenterhooks all day - are we going to go sailing, do we have to keep the game going? But now they've just abandoned it and so we've won!

"I'm really pleased because it really gelled between the team this week. None of us have ever sailed together before and we all come from different classes, so just to jump onto one of the oldest boats in the fleet and get it together with a new crew, and beat some of the very best sailors is just out of this world for me, and I'm sure for the rest of the crew too."

American skipper Randy Smyth and crew of Mischa Heemskerk, Pim Nieuwenhuis and bowman Pieter Jan Postma on Delta Lloyd/Tommy Hilfiger had to settle for second in round one of the 2008 Extreme 40 Grand Prix. But there was some consolation for the team on the final day, as they were joined by Spanish cycling hero and Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre for a quick high adrenalin blast around the bay.

In third was another new team, , skippered by Aaron Mcintosh, with Greg Homann, Sander Speet and Mark Kennedy. Every team took a turn at the front of the fleet, with six different winners of the eight races on day one alone! In total 25 races were held, as the Extreme 40s put on a fantastic show every afternoon this week in the Darsena basin.

"So round one is over, and it was a great success, especially to see so many people watching the sailing here in Alicante - by the end of the week 750,000 people are expected to have been in the race village," commented Herb Dercksen, Chief Executive Officer of TornadoSport. "That's a huge success for sailing in general, and the number of people who got to see the eXtreme 40 Series was fantastic.

"It's a pity we got a blow out of racing today, although Delta Lloyd/ Tommy Hilfiger went out and put on a little show. But we're pretty happy with six boats and a great start to the extreme 40 Grand Prix. Everything will now be shipped to Singapore for the next stopover in the New Year."

Round 2 takes place at the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Singapore from January 12 - 16, 2009.

(Catamaran racing and protests don't go...)

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