Sunday, 12 July 2009

RC44s: Chris Bake’s Team Aqua takes the lead after a fantastic day on Lake Garda

Team No Way Back wins the DHL Trophy whilst Team Aqua shows the most consistency and takes the overall lead ahead of the Dutch. Three boats have been involved in a mark rounding collision and were back sailing in the afternoon after light surgery. Everything remains possible ahead of the last racing day.

Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis, ahead of Team Aqua and Team Sea Dubai in this afternoon’s fleet races. Image copyright Loris Von Siebenthal / RC 44 Class.

by Bernard Schopfer

The DHL coastal race took place early this morning and was definitely the highlight of the event so far. Indeed, the regatta took place in the best conditions Lake Garda can offer, with 20 knots of wind and a stunning sunshine. Three more fleet regattas got completed in the afternoon in winds ranging from 10 to 20 knots: champagne sailing!

Most teams decided to start the DHL Trophy at the pin end of the line, which resulted in a big jam. Coming from behind, Maciej Nawrocki’ Organika tried to squeeze in whilst Islas Canarias Puerto Calero - struggling to make it to the line – was pushing up the boats to windward as much as possible, until the Jury decided that it was too much. Both the Spaniards and Team Aqua got an immediate penalty and started the race last, letting Team No Way Back and Team Austria sail away after a conservative start in the middle of the line.

The windward mark rounding meant the beginning of a formidable spinnaker ride towards Campione, on the other side of the lake and a long way to leeward. Always at ease in those conditions, Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts’ BMW ORACLE Racing literally flew across the lake, overtaking Team Austria in a cloud of spray. The five leading boats rounded the leeward mark without trouble, but things got a bit more complicated behind. Artemis was getting ready to round in sixth when Organika judged that there was enough space between them and the mark; in fact there wasn’t and there was no overlap at the three boat lengths circle either! Organika crashed into Artemis’s stern, just before being crashed into by Team Sea Dubai. Organika got three points penalty for this incident (2 points for the contact and one for the damage) whilst Team Sea Dubai got four: the Jury considered that the team from the UAE could have avoided this collision and therefore added one extra penalty point.

Team No Way Back controlled the situation perfectly until the arrival line, which it crossed ahead of BMW ORACLE Racing and Team Aqua, who had just made a fantastic come-back. Team Austria crossed the line in fourth after an excellent regatta; this is their best result since they have joined the RC 44 Class; it proves how much progress they have made in four months.

Lunch break – and the usual wind change that takes place at this time – allowed the Class’ technical team to change Team Sea Dubai’s bow and Organika’s bow and stern on time for the afternoon races. The repair was routine work for Pauger’s team thanks to the boat’s removable bow and stern; no other boats in any other Class could have carried on racing after such a collision.

Three fantastic races took place in the afternoon. Thanks to a 1, 5, 2 score, Chris Bake and his Team Aqua take the provisional lead of the event ahead of Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back (4, 7, 3). Larry Ellison’s BMW ORACLE Racing (8, 3, 4) and Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis (5, 1, 1) are on a tie for third.

The racing has definitely been very tough for everyone in the afternoon, with the boats separated by a few seconds on the arrival line. Most teams have had their moment of glory today. For example, Team Austria has on numerous occasions sailed in the first half of the fleet and seriously challenged the usual leaders. Frank Pong’s Jelik has also been in touch with the fleet and fought hard all day despite the team’s lack of experience in this Class. Organika lead most of the first race of the afternoon – just after their boat had been splashed back with a new bow & stern. Last but not least, Team Sea Dubai got two fantastic second places this afternoon. Further to the team’s victory yesterday, Team Sea Dubai confirms that it has become a serious contender for victory.

With six points between the race leader Team Aqua and the joint-fourth placed BMW ORACLE Racing and Artemis, everything remains possible. The weather forecast for tomorrow is excellent!

They said:

Chris Bake, owner, Team Aqua: “This has been a great day, and we’ve had a lot of fun. Our objective has always been to be consistent and today it has proved to be the way to go. We need to focus on being on points, being smart, sailing well… I am lucky because Cameron (Appleton) helps me to stay out of trouble. He has been fantastic today. I am also impressed by the fact that all the boats were back on the starting line after the collision; it is a real testament for the Class.”

Torbjorn Tornqvist, owner, Artemis: “We’ve had ups and downs today, with two victories but also a PMS and some bad decisions. But it was a fantastic day, and absolutely great sailing. I am very pleased with our speed and I feel very strong with our team and performance.”

Pieter Heerema, owner, No Way Back: “I am reasonably satisfied with our day. The racing was absolutely fantastic, but we were a bit mediocre in understanding some of the shifts. Generally speaking, I am very happy with our team’s performance. We have suddenly taken off. The reasons for this are that we have improved our boat preparation and then handling. After this we have focused on speed, and finally on tactics. The key is to bring it all together and we are not there yet, but it is coming. Basically, it is down to management and to believing that you can make it.”

Fleet race, provisional results after six races (no discard):
(Ranking, name of team, helmsman, results, points (DHL Trophy double points in bold)
1) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 2, 5, 6, 1, 5, 2 - 21 points
2) No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 7, 3, 2, 4, 7, 3 - 26 points
3) Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist, 1, 9, 10, 5, 1, 1 – 27 points
3) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 6, 2, 4, 8, 3, 4 - 27 points
5) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 3, 4, 12, 7, 4, 5 – 35 points
6) Team Sea Dubai, Yousef Lahej, 5, 1, 18, 2, 2, 6 - 38 points
7) Team Austria, René Mangold, 8, 6, 8, 6, 8, 10 - 46 points
8) Team Organika, Maciej Navrocki, 4, 8, 16, 3, 6, 8 - 48 points
9) Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, Daniel Calero, 9, 7, 14, 10, 9, 7 - 56 points
10) Jelik, Frank Pong, 10, 10, dnf 22, 9, 10, 9 – 70 points


No comments: