The America’s Cup team Alinghi added a fourth iShares Cup event trophy to their collection at the season finale in Amsterdam — but they had to work hard from the outset. British America’s Cup challengers TEAMORIGIN had led for the early part of the season, and the duo went into Round 5 tied on equal points. TEAMORIGIN’s hopes of defending the trophy Rob Greenhalgh won last year faltered as Alinghi scored an amazing five race wins in a row at the beginning of Round 5 in Amsterdam but Alinghi only secured the overall lead today, the very last day of racing, in Race 16 — the 77th of the series!
“TEAMORIGIN set the bar for us,” said winning Alinghi skipper Ed Baird. “We knew what we had to do to try and catch up to that level, but they have increased their level this year as well. They’ve been a great opponent all year.”
Over the course of the 2008 iShares Cup every team entered in the series has won a race, and the finale in Amsterdam was no exception, with JPMorgan Asset Management skippered by Shirley Robertson, and Randy Smyth on Tommy Hilfiger each taking two races off the series leaders today in hugely challenging shifty conditions. The Alinghi team always said they were coming to the iShares Cup to learn how to sail multihulls, and they were learning from the best in a fleet packed with Olympic gold medallists and world champions: “The iShares Cup season has been great, it’s got all the best guys here,” added Ed Baird. “We started out a little shaky but it got better from there – and we’ve definitely learned a lot. And sailing next to the shore has been tons of fun!”
Baird also paid tribute to his crew of mainsail trimmer Rodney Ardern (NZL), trimmer Lorenzo Mazza (ITA), and bowman Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen (NED). “I have to give a lot of credit to my team, they really supported me all through the year – they made the boat go fast, they made the boat handling go well and got us round the course safely so well done to them.”
Second place overall went to TEAMORIGIN, skippered by Rob Greenhalgh. The British team had held the top of the leaderboard for the entire season, but failed to get an event win under their belts and had some poor results in the last event of the no-discard series. “We’ve struggled here, but Alinghi have sailed exceptionally,” conceded Rob Greenhalgh
JPMorgan Asset Management skippered by Shirley Robertson and crewed by Nick Hutton, Fraser Brown and Chris Main started the season in style winning the first regatta in the five regatta series in Lugano, Switzerland. The following four regatta’s in France, UK, Germany and finally the Netherlands bought some mixed results in some challengeing conditions.The team finished 6th overall just 1 point behind Holmatro in 5th and 3 points behind Oman Sail in 4th place.
Over the five European events, 7 different teams have stepped onto the podium, and in every race the positions have never stopped changing. Ten teams have competed throughout the season with the addition of two BMW Oracle Extreme 40s at the UK round and the French team, TWINS, racing in Hyéres. The Extreme 40 sailors are at the top of their game competing at the Olympics, in the America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, amongst others and now the iShares Cup has become a must on their calendar: The who’s who of sailing are on the Extreme 40′s. The level has lifted with the America’s Cup teams joining the circuit and spectator levels have sky-rocketed with all the guys pushing the boats to the limits and capsizes and crashes are just part of the racing.
Overall Results iShares Cup 2008:
1. Alinghi, 46 points
2. TEAMORIGIN, 41 points
3. BT, 34 points
4. Oman Sail, 29 points
5. Holmatro, 27 points
6. JPMorgan Asset Management, 26 points
7. Team Aqua, 22 points
8. Volvo Ocean Race, 17 points
9. iShares, 17 points
10. Tommy Hilfiger, 14 points