Plenty of action on day 1 of the iShares Cup Amsterdam - the penultimate round of the six-stage series... The trickiest racecourse on the European circuit proved testing for the nine Extreme 40s but it was Oman Sail Masirah who ended up being the biggest casualty of the day. A collision with BT put a large hole in the port hull of Masirah and she started taking on water. Pete Cumming and his crew, leading the overall iShares Cup circuit at this stage, will get redress for the races they have missed but it was not the start the Oman team would have wished for going into this penultimate round. Some consolation is that their stablemate Renaissance complete day 1 at the top of the Amsterdam leaderboard with French skipper, Yann Guichard, onboard Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild only two points behind…
After yesterday’s practice day which saw Mike Golding’s Ecover on the dockside undergoing overnight repairs after a collision with Loick Peyron’s Oman Sail Renaissance, the teams were in little doubt that the first day of racing at the iShares Cup Amsterdam on the IJ-Haven canal could be a ‘make or break’ scenario… And that proved to be the case for overall iShares Cup series leaders, Oman Sail Masirah.
Pete Cumming takes up the story: “It was the first beat of race 4 and it was a clear case of port and starboard. BT were coming in on port and we could see from about 10 seconds out they were going to hit us. The wind had got up and we knew as they accelerated, the bows dug in and holed us under the waterline and the crack goes right underneath. The damage is about 2-foot forward of the back beam on the port hull and it compressed the whole side of the boat in - it’s quite a big job to rebuild that. We didn’t have our best races in the first couple today so we’ll get average points from those races - we’ll just have to see how it goes. It’s an unfortunate situation and we’ve ended up sitting on the shore with our boat full of water.”
A total of 8 races were staged today on the tiny IJ-Haven – the racecourse just 750-meters long and 250-meters wide - on the start line you could literally step from one boat to the next and then on to the canal wall! There is only just enough room for the nine-boat fleet to line up and as soon as they cross the line, the boats, just a few feet from the concrete walls, are yelling for water causing a domino effect across the fleet. The conditions were generally light but on a fairly regular basis the breeze built up to over 10 knots making the IJ-Haven become a hazardous place to be, although the crowds loved it! There were plenty of penalties and at least one other collision and probably a few more scrapes and close shaves that were not visible from the shore.
Team iShares skipper, Shirley Robertson, who scored a win in the penultimate race today and lies in 5th place overall: "Many of us remember the first year we came to Amsterdam... it was pretty windy and it brings back all of those memories of all the points around the canal where you had a few moments! You just have to sail slightly differently and be prepared to see things that you might not before - look for opportunities and be a bit punchy!” It was certainly a case of avoiding the wind holes and taking advantage of the gusts, which resulted in many place changes throughout the fleet. Two wins apiece for Oman Sail Renaissance (Loick Peyron)and Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild (Yann Guichard) and individual race wins for Holmatro (Mitch Booth), Groupama (Franck Cammas), iShares (Shirley Robertson) and LUNA (Erik Maris) have kept the points close on the Round 5 leaderboard. Only 2 points separate Loick Peyron from Guichard and Guichard from Cammas, and 1 point between Mitch Booth, Robertson and Maris (see leaderboard for full results).