Friday, 29 May 2009

RC44s: Very talented and a bit lucky, Team Aqua grabs the match race title in the RC 44 Austria Cup

Despite leading the tournament since the onset, Cameron Appleton and his team remained under threat until the very last race. Karol Jablonski’s Organika finished a magnificent second ahead of Dean Barker’s Artemis and Paul Cayard’s Ceeref.

Paul Cayard's CEEREF momentarily leads Cameron Appleton's Team Aqua in the RC 44 Austria Cup match racing. Image copyright GEPA pictures/Marie Rambauske/RC44 Class Association.

by Bernard Schopfer

When asked what the key to his success was, Team Aqua’s pro skipper Cameron Appleton was humble enough to answer “a huge amount of luck”. But luck doesn’t explain all and it is fair to say that Team Aqua sailed very well and that the team grabbed all the opportunities available – and there were many.

Following a successful ride against Team No Way Back, Aqua won the match that would be the decisive one in Flight 8, against Paul Cayard’s Ceeref. Despite loosing the start and incurring a penalty, Aqua managed to come back during the first downwind leg, taking advantage of a massive right shift to grab the lead. Appleton and his team then perfectly executed their penalty on the arrival line, finishing a couple of seconds ahead of Ceeref.

Two teams were still in a position to beat Aqua at this stage: BMW ORACLE Racing and Organika. The Americans blew their last opportunity during the pre-start of Flight 9 against Organika, incurring a penalty and crossing the line prematurely.

With one last race to go, Karol Jablonski’s Polish team was the only one still in a position to beat Aqua. In order to achieve this, Jablonski had to win its last race against No Way Back and Team Aqua to be beaten by BMW ORACLE Racing. Cameron Appleton made it very clear in the pre-start sequence that the event was his, taking an early lead over the Americans and extending throughout the race to win the match and the event. No Way Back, with Ray Davies at the helm for the starting sequence and owner Pieter Heerema taking over for the rest of the race managed to beat Organika “for the honour”, as the result had no influence on the final outcome. The two teams had an interesting windward mark rounding, carrying on for at least two hundred meters after the mark, looking at each other like cat and dog and waiting for the opportunity to make the break. A fantastic match racing moment.

There were many other exciting matches today, including a superb dual between Team Sea Dubai and BMW ORACLE Racing in the seventh flight. The team from the UAE had successfully inflicted a penalty to its opponent and dominated most of the match but could not prevent one of those come backs that only Lake Traunsee seems to allow.

Not used to sail on a lake, the Spanish team Puerto Calero had some good moments too, beating Organika, BMW ORACLE Racing and Team Austria but this was not enough to finish any better than eighth overall.

As for Team Austria, still learning the subtleties of match racing, they had some very good and close matches but haven’t managed to win a race. A tough result that certainly doesn’t reflect their talent.

The fleet racing event starts tomorrow. The strict one-design concept of the RC 44 Class and the shifty weather will open up more opportunities to the less experienced teams. It will with no doubt be a very interesting regatta.

They said:

Cameron Appleton, helmsman, Team Aqua: “We’ve had a huge amount of luck. We sailed very well in those races that we won fair & square. But I confess that we were lucky at times. I don’t know any other place that offers such opportunities to come back. The qualities that were necessary to win today are: patience, focus and belief.”

Dean Barker, helmsman, Artemis: “I am not very happy with our day. The conditions don’t make for great matches. You think you are doing things right and five minutes later you’ve been overtaken by your opponent without having done any mistake. This lake is really hard to read.”

René Mangold, owner, Team Austria: “I am not surprised by the result and we are not unhappy. These guys sail match races 200 days / year; it’s just normal that they beat us. But I have the feeling that we are getting closer and closer. Hopefully we will be able to win some races next time, in Malcesine.”

Karol Jablonski, helmsman, Organika: “It was complicated, exciting and intense. We’ve had lots of ups and downs throughout the day, but the crew has done a fantastic job and I am very happy. Rod Dawson, from New Zealand, is our new mainsail trimmer and he is doing a great job; it is very helpful. I didn’t know that we could have won the event when we started the last race. But it wouldn’t have changed anything.”

Match-race, final results after nine flights:
(Name of team, helmsman, No of victories / defeats, points)

1) Team Aqua, Cameron Appleton 7/1, 7 points
2) Team Organika, Karol Jablonski 5/3, 5 points
3) Artemis, Dean Barker, 5/3, 5 points
4) Ceeref, Paul Cayard, 5/3, 5 points
5) BMW ORACLE Racing, Rod Davis, 4/4, 4 points
6) No Way Back, Pieter heerema, 4/4, 4 points
7) Team Sea Dubai, Markus Wieser, 3/5, 3 points
8) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, José Maria Ponce, 3/5, 3 points
9) Team Austria, Christian Binder, 0/8, 0 point


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