Friday, 10 July 2009

RC44s: Dean Barker wins the Malcesine RC 44 Cup match race ahead of Ray Davies

Emirates Team New Zealand’s helmsman Dean Barker (Artemis) and his AC tactician Ray Davies (No Way Back) finish the event on a tie, with five victories and no loss for both. The rules make Barker the winner ahead of Davies. Sébastien Col finishes third on board Ceeref.

Dean Barker and Artemis, winners of the Malcesine Cup match race.
by Bernard Schopfer

With no less than eight flights to complete today, the Race Committee had no time to loose and took the wise decision to schedule the first start at 8:30 AM. The early morning breeze was blowing beautifully (15-18, knots), the sun was shining and the light was absolutely superb, allowing three flights to be completed before the breeze died conveniently at lunch time. The southerly Ora started blowing one hour later, allowing one more flight to be sailed before a thunderstorm put an end to the thermal breeze. The Malcesine Cup match race had to be concluded after seven flights, despite numerous attempts by the Race Committee to launch more races.

On great form, Pieter Heerema and Ray Davies (Team No Way Back) started their day by putting a lot of pressure on Cameron Appleton (Team Aqua) during their pre-start, pushing Aqua out of the line prematurely. The team from the UAE fought hard to come back, but to no avail. No Way Back then easily won their next match against Frank Pong’s Team Jelik, rejoining Artemis on top of the leader board with five victories each and no defeats. The two teams unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to sail against each other and therefore finish the event on a tie.

Ray Davies and Dean Barker obviously know each other well. Barker is Emirates Team New-Zealand’s helmsman and Davies is his tactician. The two buddies spend most of the year sailing together; they both consider that it is “a great opportunity” for them to compete against each other on this occasion.

Sébastien Col and Ceeref complete the podium with five victories and one loss against Artemis – hence making the latter the winner of the event. Ceeref sailed one of the closest matches of the week against Team Islas Canarias Puerto Calero in the sixth flight. The Spaniards got a penalty in the prestart whilst Ceeref crossed the line prematurely and spent half the race catching up. The match ended up in a breathtaking run, with the Spaniards crossing the arrival line in Ceeref’s wake after completing their penalty. Probably an appropriate revenge after the point they scored yesterday against Aqua, by one second!

If they hadn’t lost this point, Aqua would have finished the event with five points too, illustrating how tough it is at the top of the leader board. But there are no “ifs” in match racing and Aqua finishes the event in fourth.

The day saw some great matches, including a nice regatta between Frank Pong (Team Jelik) and Team Sea Dubai. The new team from Hong Kong finally lost the race but proved that it has the capacity to fight against the best.

Also interesting to follow, the match between Team Sea Dubai and BMW ORACLE Racing, with Markus Wieser managing to control its (tough) opponent throughout the regatta and win an important point.

Karol Jablonski, on Organika, wasn’t on great form at the beginning of the day, receiving no less than four penalties (including a red flag) during his match against Team Aqua.

The results of the Series clearly show that the level is getting better and better and that more boats are able to win races. Indeed, six out of ten teams are separated by two points after seven flights.

Ceeref and Sea Dubai on Lake Garda. Image copyright Loris Von Siebenthal / RC 44 Class.

They said:

Ray Davies, helmsman, No Way Back: “It would obviously had been nice to sail against Dean, but we are very happy with our sailing and our result. Dean and I speak a lot between the races and we give each other some bad time. It is very helpful for me to be steering because usually I am the tactician and it is good to be reminded what sort of information the helmsman likes to be told. With Team No Way Back we worked very hard and came to Malcesine three days before the regatta in order to train. The team has clearly improved a lot. Now everyone focuses on their job. We are also all more confident with our time & distance.”

Karol Jablonski, helmsman, Organika: “We had two tough matches today and it didn’t play the way we would have wanted. The level is clearly increasing a lot and there are more and more difficult teams in the Class. You can loose a race by one second and look bad on the ranking even if you had great matches.”

José-Maria Ponce, Islas Canarias Puerto Calero: “We are definitely closer to the top than we were in the past. The crew is getting the philosophy of the match race and it makes my life easier. We can now fight against any team with a good chance to beat them. We are sometimes still too intense and we need to remain calm in intense situations and concentrate on the alternatives.”

Cameron Appleton, helmsman, Team Aqua: “We sailed well but it is sometimes a game of inches. We committed some little mistakes that cost us two points. The field is definitely growing stronger and you can loose against anyone. I guess there might be a different winner at every regatta in the future. Consistency is our target.”

Match-race, final results after 7 flights:
(Name of team, helmsman, No of victories / defeats, points)
1) Artemis, Dean Barker, 5/0, 5 points
2) No Way Back, Ray Davies, 5/0, 5 points
3) Ceeref, Sébastien Col, 5/1, 5 points
4) Team Aqua, Cameron Appleton 4/2, 4 points
5) Team Sea Dubai, Markus Wieser, 3/3, 3 points
6) Team Organika, Karol Jablonski 3/3 – 1 penalty, 2 points
7) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 2/4, 2 points
8) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, José Maria Ponce, 2/4, 2 points
9) Team Jelik, Frank Pong, 0/5, 0 point
10) Team Austria, Christian Binder, 0/6, 0 point


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