Oman Sail Masirah has won the iShares Cup 2009, but it came down to the last leg of the last race on the last day of the last regatta at the iShares Cup Almeria in Spain, with Gitana Extreme - LCF Rothschild pushing Oman Sail Masirah right to the very last minute with a superb final performance. Pete Cumming and his crew held their nerve despite the strong comeback of Yann Guichard and the Gitana Extreme crew. Almeria’s usually strong winds never materialised, with light winds adding to the nerves of the 10 teams challenging for the Andulician final event of this benchmark season for the Extreme 40 Sailing Series. Franck Cammas’ Groupama 40 crew finished third on the event leaderboard ahead of Oman Sail Renaissance, although Loick Peyron had the comfort of claiming third spot on the overall iShares Cup 2009 leaderboard ahead of Cammas. Shirley Robertson’s Team iShares sailed an excellent regatta to win the mid-leaderboard battle ahead BT and LUNA, to finish 5th overall. Tens of thousands of spectators, the biggest stadium audience of the year, packed the port of Almeria to witness the heart-stopping tension of the double points final race of the season. No hull flying today, but heart stopping it still was!
The Masirah’s crew leapt with joy as they crossed the line, skipper Pete Cumming: “I’ve been dreaming of this for two years taking part and racing against the best in the world. I was choked up thinking about it this morning as I walked down to the boat and since Amsterdam I’ve been losing sleep because I couldn’t bear to think of not winning it. Finally, I’ve gone from the most stressed man in Spain to the happiest man in Spain! It means the world to me, it is the highlight of my sailing career. When I turned up in Paris for the launch of the 2009 series, I felt a bit of a misfit looking at all these other legends on the roll call. Now I feel proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these guys having competed with them and beaten them.
“All credit to Chris, Mark and Freddie – the guys have been absolutely amazing. We had a real shake up earlier in the day when we snapped our furler line and we just dealt with it really professionally, we sorted the problem and came back out and won a race. A big thank you to the whole team of Oman Sail as well who have been behind us the whole way.”
“We knew if they (Gitana Extreme) won the last race we had to be 5th to win overall so we didn’t do anything ultra aggressive just stayed close to them. Yann, and the boys, what more could they do…they won three races today including the final double points race. They did everything they had to do but we just stayed on their coat-tails.
Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild who won two of the iShares Cup rounds this season, have been admirable opponents: “We're happy, albeit a little disappointed by the final result, but we were beaten by guys who were stronger than us this season,” said Guichard. “We have nothing to regret, I think that today we gave everything we had, we had a very good day apart from that OCS that might cost us the final victory, but that's the way the game goes. Our team's strength is to never give up, and I really want to tip my hat off to the whole crew. The overall level was very high, and I hope that next year we'll be back to climb one more step on the podium.”
The final event of the six-stage European iShares Cup 2009 series has been a spectacular and showcase event both on the water and on land. Shirley Robertson, skipper of Team iShares, was delighted with the team’s 5th overall place and the reception that all the teams received from the public in Almeria: “We were really chuffed and it was a little bit of a surprise when we called up to the podium because the points had been so close and we have been mixing it with the same boats almost from Venice – Holmatro, LUNA and BT – so it’s really good. From the moment we arrived in Almeria to rig the boats the atmosphere has been great and the local people have been right behind this event. It’s a great area for sailing and a fantastic amphitheatre, and we’ve loved having the crowds. It has felt like a real sporting event and every time we sailed passed the wall we had a big cheer for iShares – I loved it!”
iShares Cup Almeria:
1. Oman Sail Masirah 132 points
2. Gitana Extreme – Groupe LCF Rothschild 129 points
3. Groupama Extreme 112 points
4. Oman Sail Renaissance 96 points
5. LUNA 96 points
6. Team iShares 83 points
7. Holmatro 82 points
8. BT 79 points
9. Rumbo Almeria 73 points
10. Ecover 89 points