For the iShares Cup at Skandia Cowes Week these top teams will be joined by two new boats, both from America’s Cup challengers BMW ORACLE Racing, with a squad that includes the America’s Cup and Olympic gold medal winning Russell Coutts, offshore multihull champion Franck Cammas, top match racer James Spithill, and the hugely experienced round the world sailor John Kostecki.
With the next America’s Cup due to be sailed in multihulls between Defenders Alinghi and Challengers BMW ORACLE Racing, this will be the first time the two have sailed against each other since last year’s America’s Cup – and the first time the Defender and Challenger have raced each other from Cowes since the very first America’s Cup began by racing around the Isle of Wight back in 1851.
It will also be a first for James Spithill, one of the two BMW ORACLE Racing skippers. “Funny enough, I’ve never raced at Cowes, so it’ll be good to finally get there. It should be quite a bit of fun.
“The Extreme 40s are pretty exciting, and we’ve sailed them in quite a bit of breeze as well so we’ve enjoyed it, and I’m sure Cowes will provide some pretty interesting conditions.”
Ed Baird, skipper of Alinghi, was also looking forward to the third iShares Cup venue. “It’s been a long time since I raced in the Solent and I’m really looking forward to coming back there and remembering all the idiosyncrasies of the area,” he said. “It can be windy, it can be light, there’s always some current, it can be shifty or steady – every day’s different. We know that we’re going to have a difficult battle with a lot of great teams again, and we’re really excited about the opportunity.”
But the rest of the fleet have already sailed dozens of Extreme 40 races in the fast and furious 2008 iShares Cup, and will give the newcomers plenty of competition. Round 1 winner Shirley Robertson, is hoping for another big performance for JPMorgan Asset Management, sailing out of her home town of Cowes. “This event is a special one for us as we will be sailing on home territory, so I hope that we can pull out some good races and stay on the podium.
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