A sunny start for the Oman Sail Team

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The Independent Online

A near-perfect but not over-testing racing breeze gave Mike Cumming and his Oman Masirah team an impressive start to the opening day of the second iShares Cup regatta, staged off the harbour wall of a town best known for its annual Olympic regatta.

Cumming took four firsts from six starts, with Olympic bronze medallist Chris Draper, who knows these waters well, on the helm and another Olympian, Mark Bulkeley bringing considerable multihull experience from his days in the Tornado class.

After six races, splitting a first and third for the second Omani boat, skippered by Loick Peyron, was the BT boat which is part of Mark Turner and Ellen MacArthur’s Cowes-based stable, but with the Netherlands-based Australian Mitch Booth at the helm.

Booth was one of the designers of the one-design 40-foot catamarans, and his 6, 4, 2, 4, 3, 1 demonstrated the depth of skill he can call on when stepping back into a class.

A second place was the best for double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson in the event sponsor’s boat and James Spithill, still the frontrunner to helm the giant multihull which BMW Oracle will sail in the next America’s Cup, had to content himself with an overnight fifth, just one point behind the legendary Franck Cammas in Groupama.

Britain’s Mike Golding, exchanging a solo life offshore for an inshore multihull, but still in Ecover colours, has Belgian sailmaker Bruno Dubois and Kiwi Fraser Brown and completed what was a limited training programme in Hyeres, but he continues to struggle. His best result was an eighth in the 10-boat fleet and there was some earnest discussion going on after the boat tied up next to the tented village.

Talks was of a Mistral to enliven the show on the second day as the Tour de France heads out of Monaco, just along the coast.