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Highlights of the 2008 iShares Cup season

by iShares Cup Media on 18 Oct 2008
Alinghi capsizing - iShares Lake Lugano Vincent Curutchet/DPPI/OC Events
The 2008 iShares Cup was a true show-stopper, with the competing teams producing one of the most dramatic regatta circuits of all time. It's time to look back on some of the best moments from a thoroughly memorable year.

Tell us what you think was the best moment of the 2008 iShares Cup by emailing info@iSharesCup.com and the first 10 respondents will win an iShares Cup baseball cap. Remember to include your full postal address on the return email - offer ends Friday, 31 October.

1. First event, first race and some major drama
The refined Lake Lugano in Switzerland set the scene for the opening event on the iShares Cup circuit, from 30th May - 1st June, but the very first race of the season showed the raw power of the Extreme 40s. A sudden squall of furious black clouds, torrential rain, and bolts of lightning buffeted the mountain lake course, and in a monster gust Alinghi came off worst, with a capsize and broken rig, that put paid to the America's Cup defenders' chances of winning Round 1 - that honour went to the only female skipper on the circuit, double Olympic gold-medalist Shirley Robertson and her crew onboard JPMorgan Asset Management.

Watch Alinghi's dramatic capsize here

2. Mistral magic
The second event of the series took place in Hyères, France (13th - 15th June), in some spectacular sailing conditions - a powerful Mistral breeze and blue Mediterranean gave the Extreme 40s a perfect playground, with an epic 9-race second day packing in the Extreme 40 action just off the breakwater of the Cote d'Azur town. Hyères may be used to sailing events, but it hadn't seen anything like this before.

3. Tommy's nose-dive
It was touch-and-go for the crew of Tommy Hilfiger in Hyères, who had a spectacular recovery as their Extreme 40 pitchpoled. nearly capsized. then bounced back the right way up to carry on racing! Skipper Randy Smyth recalls:

Skipper Randy Smyth recalls: 'The crew were all hanging onto the net like scared rats, but I just crawled over the side -

I thought it was history!

Then it came crashing back down and the crew never stopped for a heartbeat.

They put the gennaker up and we were off! They stayed as a team, as a unit, and that's hard to do. It was a new definition of extreme!'


To watch Tommy Hilfiger's close escape click here

4. America's Cup showdown
History was made at the third iShares Cup event of the season, at Skandia Cowes Week, as the current America's Cup defender Alinghi met two challenging America's Cup teams: BMW Oracle Racing and TeamOrigin, the first time in history since the America's Cup originated in Cowes back in 1851. BMW Oracle Racing brought two boats and two top crews, but didn't get things their own way as Franck Cammas crashed one Extreme 40 and team-mate James Spithill capsized during an action packed first day, then Cammas again flipped his 'borrowed' Extreme 40 on the final day.


5. Cats might fly
The Solent's famously challenging sailing conditions pushed the iShares Cup fleet to the limit in the third event at Cowes from August 2nd-4th, with no fewer than five capsizes in choppy seas and big breezes. Defending iShares Cup champions on board TeamOrigin went for their second unscheduled swim of the season, Team Aqua spectacularly capsized in between races, and the crew of JPMorgan Asset Management put on an acrobatic display as they parted company with their inverting catamaran.

See the thrills and spills of Cowes here

The Solent's famously challenging sailing conditions pushed the iShares Cup fleet to the limit in the third event at Cowes from August 2nd-4th, with no fewer than five capsizes in choppy seas and big breezes. Defending iShares Cup champions on board TeamOrigin went for their second unscheduled swim of the season, Team Aqua spectacularly capsized in between races, and the crew of JPMorgan Asset Management put on an acrobatic display as they parted company with their inverting catamaran.

6. Celebrity guests
The iShares Cup fleet got a little dusting of celebrity this summer, taking advantage of the 'fifth man' position which allows the Extreme 40s to carry VIPs during racing. They included G.H. Mumm ambassadors Bear Grylls, Tom Avery, Jodie Kidd and Neil Laughton, who joined Ellen MacArthur and Nick Moloney onboard the BT Extreme 40 at Cowes in August.

Four-times Olympic gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent took part in a special River Thames race onboard iShares, setting a new course record between Greenwich Yacht Club and the O2 Arena, and it wasn't just celebs who got onboard: nearly 2000 corporate guests enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime sailing experience during the iShares Cup.

7. Entertaining the crowds
The fourth round of the iShares Cup at Kiel (29th - 31st August), put on a fantastic spectacle. An estimated 80,000 spectators came to watch over the three days of racing - packing the foreshore 10 deep. In glorious sunshine the Extreme 40s were powering off the startline and soaring into the shore on one hull, rounding the gybe mark and finishing just yards from the shore. 'I think we've probably sailed in front of this many people in a television situation, but not in person - this is fantastic!' said Alinghi skipper and America's Cup winner Ed Baird.

To watch the fantastic spectacle of iShares Cup racing at Kiel click here

8. Everyone's a winner
The fourth event of the circuit at Kiel ended with iShares winning the final medal race - part of an incredibly competitive season in which every single iShares Cup team won one of the season's 79 races. Shirley Robertson on JPMorgan Asset Management got off to a great start by winning five races to claim round one in Lugano, TEAMORIGIN posted a consistent series to finish second in four out of five events, BT twice got on the podium in the overall event prizegivings, Volvo Ocean Race put in a impressive performance in windy Hyères to finish third in Round 2 - then Holmatro did just the same at Cowes, Team Aqua found some fantastic form to finish third overall at Kiel, and new team Oman Sail finished the season on a high with a third overall at Amsterdam.

The competition was so tight that each regatta, except the final in Amsterdam, went to the wire with the final double points race of the regatta proving the ultimate decider on who would get to step onto the top of the podium.

9. Sailing in the city
The iShares Cup returned to the home of last year's dramatic finale, Amsterdam, for this year's showdown over 19th - 21st September. Yet again the Extreme 40s brought sailing right to the heart of the capital city, racing on a seemingly impossibly small course of just 800m long. City workers and residents alike watched the catamarans sailing just inches from their windows - the Dutch boats of Holmatro and Volvo Ocean Race both out to put on a great show in their home city.

10. Worthy champions
Going into the final event last year's champions onboard TeamOrigin were tied on equal points with America's Cup defenders, Alinghi, while further down the fleet the fight for third was equally hot between home team Holmatro, Oman Sail and BT. But in the final reckoning it was Alinghi who lifted the Dutch trophy as well as the overall title, from TeamOrigin in second, with BT taking third in the series.


Who will win in 2009? Well, that's anyone's guess as the competition just keeps on getting hotter!

Watch more video highlights from the season, and keep up to date with news of the 2

T Clewring One DesignNewport Boat Show 2016 660x82Colligo Marine 660x82

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