A single point separates the top two boats as 10 teams prepare for round four of the competition

The 10 teams competing in the fourth event of the 2009 iShares Cup are ready for three days of fiercely contested Extreme 40 racing – kicking off today. With just one point separating the top two on the overall leaderboard, and some changeable conditions forecast, Kiel looks set to be an exciting showdown.

“I’m looking forward to this weekend,” commented Ecover skipper Mike Golding. “Kiel is a great location, the racing will be fast and furious, and the conditions are expected to build over the weekend. We’ve had some good training this week, the mark roundings need to be clean and quick and we’ve focused a lot on this. I hope that we will see some improvements over this weekend and that we can close the gap on the teams ahead of us. It has the potential to be one of the best race courses so far!”

All the teams have been training as hard as possible – they are racing so seriously on Wednesday there was even a collision – with LUNA sustaining damage, although they will be back racing today.

“We experienced a really bad crash yesterday. We had to lift the boat out of the water and our shore team worked all afternoon and all night long to make sure that the boat is ready for tomorrow! We should be back on the water this afternoon and will make sure that everything is ok,” explained Luna crew Philippe Mourniac.

Huge crowds of up to 100,000 spectators are expected to watch 40 World Champions, Olympic medalists, America’s Cup heroes and round the world record-breakers fight it out. “Thanks again to the city of Kiel for welcoming us back again this year. It was an absolutely phenomenal event last year and we are expecting as many spectators as last year. Hearing the crowd cheer is amazing and encourages us to provide the best competition and spectacle,” commented BT skipper Nick Moloney.

At the front of the fleet, eyes will be on lead boats Oman Sail Masirah and Gitana Extreme-Groupe LCF Rothschild, with just one point separating them at the halfway point. “We are just one point off the lead but we have no particular strategy for Kiel,” said Gitana skipper Yann Guichard. “This event should be really windy and gusty, we will do our best to sail well but there’s nine other good teams, all really full on and nobody will let the victory go!”

Pete Cumming, skipper of Masirah, added: “When we look at the skipper and crew line up, we could think that our team is a lot less experienced. But we keep the same team since last year, we trained a lot and I think it’s the key to our success for now.”

Racing begins at 14:30, with up to eight races scheduled every afternoon. Visit www.iSharesCup.com/Kiel for more.