Draper and 'Oman' continue to standout in Hyeres

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The Independent Online

In a final day of hectic Mediterranean action off Hyeres, the standout team in the second of six iShares Cup regattas continued to be Oman with British Olympic bronze medallist Chris Draper at the helm of the red boat and French ocean racing legend Loick Peyron on the blue boat.

Peyron had been promoted to second overall overnight after a jury gave him average third places following a rudder-breaking collision with Golding on the second day. Which did not please a BMW Oracle team skippered by James Spithill as it pushed them temporarily down to third.

Having a much better day was British double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson, who won the first of the five races and was second in the third. And Golding’s Ecover posted its best result of the regatta with a fourth in the second.

The circuit next moves to the Isle of Wight for the first three days of Cowes Week on 1, 2, 3 August. Special arrangements have been made to use the stretch of water alongside Cowes Green – a favourite viewing area when hundreds of boats are streaming past under spinnaker to the finishing line. The commentary will be broadcast on Cowes Week Radio as well as over the sea front public address system.

While all about them are wringing their hands over bleak financial prospects,the Extreme 40 circuit is in good heart. With 10 boats it has a manageable mass, at €350,000 to what would be a luxurious €500,000 a year it is not daunting, especially if that cost is shared between national companies in the same organisation, and sponsorship from iShares, now bought by BlackRock, is agreed for next year.

An extra couple of events could be added and there are pipeline plans for a Middle and Far East circuit in the European winter. The tightrope for the Cowes-based OC Group, Mark Turner and Dame Ellen MacArthur’s event management company, has been to provide public entertainment and desirable hospitality packages without compromising the integrity of the racing. According to the crews, the competition is, if anything, increasing and the bump and grind more uncompromising.