Alinghi win iShares Cup at Hyeres

by Media 
Alinghi win Hyeres - image Pierrick Contin/DPPI/OC Events
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The 18-race iShares Cup Sailing Series went down to the wire, with two America's Cup teams dueling for the title in the double-point final race. The British TeamOrigin crew started the day best with two wins in gusty 20-knot conditions that saw several boats narrowly avoiding a capsize. But as the wind eased over the afternoon it was America's Cup winner Ed Baird on Alinghi who came to the fore, taking three wins in a row.

In the fourth race of the day TeamOrigin fell to seventh overall. In the final race with double points at stake, TeamOrigin pulled away to lead the fleet all the way round - Alinghi were back in sixth and perilously close to throwing away the title. But as the fleet gybed up the shore Alinghi held their line close into the rocks, overtaking two boats right on the finish line to finish fourth and win the overall event.

After three days of spectacular racing held in some of the biggest breezes ever seen in the iShares Cup on the last day of racing in Hyères, France, it was the two America's Cup contenders, Alinghi and TeamOrigin, who dominated the fleet, each winning three races - at one stage just three points separated the two.

TeamOrigin, skippered by reigning iShares Cup champion Rob Greenhalgh, demonstrated their Extreme 40 experience to control the first two races - Alinghi constantly looking for a route through to regain the lead in race two, but Ed Baird and his crew just couldn't get past.

But as the wind eased over the afternoon it was America's Cup winner Ed Baird on Alinghi who came to the fore, taking three wins in a row. In the fourth race of the day TeamOrigin fell to seventh overall, and it looked like their chance might be over, but they recovered well to score finish second behind Alinghi in the penultimate race of the series.

This set-up the 18th and last race of the event for a spectacular finale - the finish line placed just yards in front of crowds of spectators gathered on the breakwater. With just a dozen points separating the two leaders and the final scores counting for double TeamOrigin were still in the hunt, and flew off the line to take the lead. Alinghi were buried in the pack - if they dropped to eighth, then the Brits would triumph.

TeamOrigin pulled away to lead the fleet all the way round - Alinghi were back in sixth and perilously close to throwing away the title. But as the fleet gybed up the shore Alinghi held their line close into the rocks, overtaking two boats right on the finish line to finish fourth and win the overall event.

Skipper Ed Baird said as he was presented with his GH Mumm Champagne: 'It's really is nice to end the weekend on top of things here, the team has done just a fabulous job in conditions that frankly we don't have much experience in.

'In that last race we knew what we had to do but it was close there for a while!'

Second-placed skipper Rob Greenhalgh was also pleased that TeamOrigin had been able to put the pressure on, saying:

'We were really slow in one race which really hurt us, but in the last race we got back into our groove, found some good speed and just launched ourselves off the startline. Alinghi were doing pretty badly so it was fingers crossed they might fall back a few more places. We tried to sit on them a bit, but to be honest the fleet was very spread out and we couldn't really afford to lose our first place. But we probably made them sweat a bit!'

In the overall series points TeamOrigin lead Alinghi, with Shirley Robertson's JPMorgan Asset Management - winners of the first event in the series at Lugano - in third. The next event on the 2008 iShares Cup Sailing Series takes place at Skandia Cowes Week from August 2-4.


iShares Round 2 - Final positions:

Alinghi 6 7 2 1 2 5 1 6 4 3 1 4 4 3 1 1 1 4 168
Team Origin 9 2 DNF 5 5 6 3 1 1 1 2 3 1 1 3 7 2 1 162
Volvo Ocean Race 4 6 1 11 4 1 2 3 2 2 9 7 2 4 5 6 4 7 141
Holmatro 5 DNF 5 7 10 7 6 9 5 4 5 5 6 2 4 5 5 3 120
Team Aqua 3 8 4 6 3 8 4 7 9 8 8 2 7 9 9 8 6 5 109
BT 1 1 6 3 8 3 11 5 6 9 10 1 8 8 6 4 8 11 108
JPMorgan Asset Management 8 5 9 4 1 2 7 8 7 5 3 10 10 6 8 2 10 8 107
iShares 10 4 7 2 9 4 5 4 3 7 7 9 3 5 7 10 9 9 105
Oman Sail 2 3 3 10 6 DNS 9 11 DNS DNS DNS DNS 5 7 2 3 3 6 92
Tommy Hilfiger 7 9 DNS 9 11 9 8 2 8 6 4 6 9 11 11 11 11 2 80
TWINS 11 10 8 8 7 10 10 10 10 10 6 8 11 10 10 9 7 10 53


Event website - http://www.iSharesCup.com/leaderboard.asp