Early lead for Alicante
Six Extreme 40s took to the water in glorious sunshine and a north-easterly breeze which built during the afternoon for plenty of hull-flying extreme 40 action! The race course was set right in the middle of the main Alicante harbour, surrounded on three sides by the Volvo Ocean Race village, with the turning marks just metres from the shore. Spectators could even get a chance to get onboard during racing as on of the 'fifth men', with spare spaces for this once-in-a-lifetime experience given to those who donated to the 'Save the Whale' campaign at the Volvo Ocean Race entry Team Russia's base - pop by the Team Russia/Green Dragon base in Alicante to find out more!
In conditions which just had the 40ft catamarans flying a hull, it was Randy Smyth and crew on Delta Lloyd/Tommy Hilfiger who took the first winners' gun - to great celebrations on board. The rest of the fleet were determined not to let them have it easy in the second race though, with no fewer than four boats over the startline early. All but one - Volvo Ocean Race - returned to start correctly, but had a big gap to make up on the leaders - Twins and Holmatro. Twins came out on top to take the second win.
After a change to a triangular course for Race 3, new team OrangeB took their first win. The breeze had built to a steady 12 knots, with the Extreme 40s screaming down to the spectator dock on one hull, spinnakers ragging as the crews struggled to get them under control for the bottom mark rounding. The Orange team's luck ran out in the next when they were over the line early and had to go back and start again, converting them to last, while Holmatro took the win.
Another new team for this year, Alicante 2008-09, went on to win the next - making five different winners out of five races, while Delta Lloyd/Tommy Hilfiger's run of top-three places had moved them into top slot overall.
There were boats of all sizes on the race course for race six, as some of the Volvo 70 teams sailed back to base from training, while two tiny 'flying' International Moths mixed it up among the milling Extreme 40s. Twins scored their second win of the day, with just a couple of points between the leading teams.
Another change of course for race seven had the extreme 40 Grand Prix fleet zig-zagging right across the bay - Alicante 2008-09 scored the win. Then in the evening sunlight it was the turn of Volvo Ocean Race to score a first place in the final race of the day, while Delta Lloyd dropped to last - giving the overall lead to the Alicante boat at the end of Day 1.
"We are first by one point," said Alicante 2008-09's Johnny Hutchcroft, who is part of a brand new team who had never sailed together before today's eight races. "We had about an hour to practice before the start of the race - and we had corporate guests on then too! But we gelled together and it's really nice and relaxed on the boat, we just seem to be going okay, and we're absolutely stoked with the result!"
The crew are all talented sailors with plenty of Extreme 40 experience between them. Johnny introduced the team: "Starting at the front we've got John Casey, from Florida, America. Then we've got myself trimming the jib, and then we have Pete Greenhalgh, also from England, who was on TeamOrigin for the iShares Cup, and then we have JC Mourniac from France steering the boat.
"I can't believe the facilities here in Alicante," added Johnny "This is perfect racing in a really enclosed space that's great for spectators, so hopefully we'll get a few more good results later on in the rest of the week!"
Racing takes place every afternoon until Friday from 15,00pm, with up to eight races scheduled each day.
DAY 1 RESULTS:
1st Alicante 2008-09 (3-5-2-3-1-4-1-3 ) 22 points,
2nd Delta Lloyd/Tommy Hilfiger (1-3-3-2-3-3-2-6) 23 points,
3rd OrangeB (2-4-1-6-4-2-5-4) 28 points,
4th Twins (4-1-4-4-5-1-4-5) 28 points,
5th Holmatro (5-2-6-1-2-5-6-2) 29 points,
6th Volvo Ocean Race (6-7-5-5-6-6-3-1 ) 39 points