The 10 teams competing in the fourth event of the 2009 iShares Cup are ready for three days of fiercely contested Extreme 40 racing, which kicks off tomorrow, August 28th. With just one point separating the top two boats on the overall leaderboard, and some changeable conditions forecast, Kiel looks set for another exciting showdown between these legendary sailors.
“I’m looking forward to this weekend,” commented Ecover skipper Mike Golding. “Kiel is a great location, the racing will be fast and furious, and the conditions are expected to build over the weekend. We’ve had some good training this week, the mark roundings need to be clean and quick and we’ve focused a lot on this. I hope that we will see some improvements over this weekend and that we can close the gap on the teams ahead of us. It has the potential to be one of the best race courses so far!"
All the teams have been training as hard as possible – new entry Wirsol Team Germany Kiel.Sailing City have been sailing their Extreme 40 solidly for the past two weeks, while others have been setting up practice races. The teams are racing so seriously that yesterday there was even a collision in training, with LUNA sustaining damage, although they will be back racing today.
“We experienced a really bad crash yesterday. We had to lift the boat out of the water and our shore team worked all afternoon and all night long to make sure that the boat is ready for tomorrow! We should be back on the water this afternoon and will make sure that everything is ok,” explained Luna crew Philippe Mourniac.
Huge crowds of up to 100,000 spectators are expected to watch 40 World Champions, Olympic medalists, America’s Cup heroes and round the world record-breakers fight it out. “Thanks again to the city of Kiel for welcoming us back again this year. It was an absolutely phenomenal event last year and we are expecting as many spectators as last year. Hearing the crowd cheer is amazing and encourages us to provide the best competition and spectacle," commented BT skipper Nick Moloney.
At the front of the fleet all eyes will be on Oman Sail Masirah and Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild, with just one point separating the two teams overall at the halfway point in the 2009 iShares Cup. "We are just one point off the lead but we have no particular strategy for Kiel,” said Gitana skipper Yann Guichard. “This event should be really windy and gusty, we will do our best to sail well but there's nine other good teams, all really full on and nobody will let the victory go!"
Pete Cumming, skipper of Masirah, added: “When we look at the skipper and crew line up, we could think that our team is a lot less experienced. But we keep the same team since last year, we trained a lot and I think it's the key to our success for now.”
A familiar face returns to the helm of Holmatro, where Extreme 40 class founder Mitch Booth takes over the reins. He got off to a great start by taking today's first practice race win. "It's good to be back full-time in the circuit and specially with Holmatro as it's my original team,” he said. “It's like coming back to the family. We are all good friends, we used to sail together and it's always good fun.” Darren Bundock also returns to the helm of BT, having recovered from injury which saw him step aside earlier this season.