Photo-finishes just metres from the shore and place changes every leg made day one of the iShares Cup at Kiel a real crowd pleaser. Even some rain showers couldn’t keep away up to 8,000 spectators who lined the shore of the Inner Førde to watch the Extreme 40s blasting past the bustling public race village – with sunshine forecast for tomorrow, over 50,000 spectators are anticipated over the weekend.
The 10 teams competing at the fourth round of the iShares Cup didn’t fail to put on a great show, with some of the closest racing ever seen in the 2008 series. The fourth round of the European series was officially started by the City Mayor Angelika Volquartz, who fired the first start gun, and racing was to prove tricky right from the off. Series leaders TEAMORIGIN started their event with an eighth place, and in the next race America’s Cup defenders Alinghi finished ninth – clearly the results were due for a shake up!
British double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson got off to a great start in race one, and took the best line down the run to storm into first place and take the win. Then in Race 2 it was the turn of Team Aqua to come to the fore, taking their first win of the series. Behind them Alinghi, TEAMORIGIN and Tommy Hilfiger came storming down the finish line in a gust for a high-speed photo-finish in front of the grandstand!
For race three the whole fleet was fighting to get onto port tack and into the favoured breeze as soon as possible after the start – iShares got the first leg right to lead around mark one, to great applause from the iShares guests watching from their waterfont marquee. But series leaders TEAMORIGIN were starting their fight back, and came past them downwind to win. Team Aqua continued their run of good form with a second place.
The final race of the day saw the biggest breezes, making for some high-speed runs. There was added drama for the fifth man guest on board BT in the final race, who tumbled off the trampoline as the team went for a quick gybe before being quickly recovered by the BT spectator RIB who was watching nearby.
“We were in a leading position and then when they wanted to do a gybe – it was a very fast manoeuvre – I just lost my balance and fell into the water! The only thing that went through my mind was ‘But we’re in first place!’ I never felt in any danger and the water was actually quite warm, I was just disappointed it ended that way. But it was absolutely fantastic to be a real part of the action!” said BT guest Kai Lorenz.
But it was the turn of America’s Cup defenders Alinghi to get back into their winning stride, taking races four and six – and a solid second place in race five behind Holmatro – to finish the day in first overall on 45 points. Behind them it was as close as possible with Oman Sail and JPMorgan Asset Management tied for second on 40 points.
“I’m happy,” said Shirley Robertson, skipper of JPMorgan Asset Management as she got off the water. “It’s hard racing, it’s pretty gusty and the starts are very important in the short course racing. But we had some great starts – although in the last two races they were perhaps a little too good, one was over the line and the in other one we crashed into the committee boat! But we wanted to come out punching, you’re going to have to be a bit bold here to do well, and to be equal second at the end of the day I’m happy with that.”
Then just one point behind there was another tie, between the defending iShares Cup champion TEAMORIGIN and Team Aqua, both on 39 points in joint fourth. “It’s been a tricky season for us but we’re getting there,” said helmsman Alister Richardson. I think we’ve just relaxed into it a little bit, and I think that’s why we’re going a little bit better.
“It’s a great venue – perfect size for the amount of boats we’ve got, good for the spectators and it’s been good racing, nice and close. Sometimes the luck goes your way and then sometimes it doesn’t!”
Andreas Hagara and his crew on Holmatro were featured for 15 minutes on live German television this evening as an 18-strong crew from regional broadcaster NDR ran a live feature on the iShares Cup. Nationally renowned sports presenter, Alexander Ruda, fresh off the plane from China, came to Kiel to experience the dramatic sailing at the iShares Cup and Hagara and his team didn’t fail to deliver with a first place in race five, right in front of the cameras.
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