With three races conducted in strong winds, there was opportunity for boats to make a significant move in the standings on the second day of Quantum Key West 2012. Or in some cases it was a chance to further increase leads taken on Day 1. Pisces fit into the former category, moving into the overall lead in Melges 32 class by winning two of three races on Tuesday. Skipper Benjamin Schwartz and company showed superb boat speed and made some sound tactical decisions and now lead the 19-boat fleet by tiebreaker over John Kilroy and the Samba Pa Ti team. “We are a new program so it is a tremendous feeling to be doing well in a big-time regatta like Key West. Hopefully, we can keep it going,” said Schwartz, who joined the class last summer and promptly placed fourth at U.S. Nationals. Schwartz has America’s Cup veteran Ed Baird calling tactics and Quantum professional Scott Nixon trimming the jib and spinnaker. “You have to give Ed and Scott a lot of credit for getting our boat up to speed,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have a great crew. Today was very challenging because the wind velocity was up and down and the sea state was not very forgiving, but the guys never stopped working and we were able to change gears pretty well.” Race committees on all three courses completed three races in 8-14 knot easterly winds.
With five races in the bag, organizers with Premiere Racing are already halfway to the stated goal of holding 10 races during the five-day regatta. There was a lead change in the Farr 40 class as well with Charisma (Nico Poons, Monaco) and Struntje Light (Wolfgang Schaefer, Germany) overtaking Groovederci (John Demourkas, Santa Barbara, Cal.). Struntje Light has posted a pair of seconds and finished no lower than fourth in the seven-boat fleet, but Charisma holds the overall lead via tiebreaker by virtue of winning Race 5. “We had a very good day on the water and are happy with where we stand at the moment,” Schaefer said. “We have nice boat speed upwind and our crew work has been excellent. We have a very good tactician and he’s made some fantastic calls that have kept me in phase.” Renowned Italian professional and America’s Cup veteran Vasco Vascotta is calling tactics aboard Struntje Light, which has competed in Farr 40 class at Key West ever since 2002 with a top finish of third. “Wolfgang is doing a good job of driving and is getting better every day. The guys onboard have a great attitude and are ready to fight to the end. The good news is that we can still improve our performance.” PowerPlay lived up to its name by making a strong move in IRC 2 class with a strong line of 1-3-4 on Tuesday. Owner Peter Cunningham, a resident of Georgetown in the Cayman Islands, has a nice mix of amateur and professional crew with tactician Tony Rey, trimmer Dave Scott and bowman Geordie Shaver among the superstars aboard. “We’ve only had the boat for six months and we’ve made a lot of modifications during that time,” Cunningham said. “We’re pretty happy with our performance so far. We’re sailing fairly well and having a lot of fun.” Quantum Racing, skippered by Doug DeVos, continues to set the pace in the 52-foot class and leads PowerPlay by six points. Terry Hutchinson, helmsman for the Swedish syndicate Artemis Racing that is Challenge of Record for the America’s Cup, has made strong tactical calls in leading Quantum to victory in three races and second in the two others. “Today was far from straightforward. The wind was very shifty and there are some tricky current patches to deal with,” Hutchinson said. In other classes, the three-race day merely served as an opportunity for the early leaders to extend on the competition.
Ran, a Judel-Vrolijk 72-footer, continues to sail impressively in the Mini Maxi class (IRC 1), winning all five races so far. Red, skippered by Joe Woods of Great Britain with Paul Goodison aboard as tactician, has accomplished the same feat in the inaugural Farr 400 class. “I guess we’ve just figured the boat out a little faster than the other teams,” said Woods, who has previously sailed a Melges 32 at Key West. “We’re winning, but not by much. The racing has been awfully close.” West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes has posted straight bullets in Melges 24 class and built a commanding 10-point lead over Alan Field and the WTF team. Detroit resident Bora Gulari is steering and getting tactical advice from Australian native and North Sails pro Jeremy Wilmot as West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes seeks to follow up on its 2011 national championship. Groovederci, skippered by Deneen Demourkas of Santa Barbara, Cal., has won all five races in Farr 30 class. Teamwork, a J/122 owned by Robin Team of Lexington, N.C., has posted two bullets and a pair of seconds in grabbing a narrow one-point lead over the 1D35 Tres Hombres in PHRF 1. “We’re having a great time because the conditions have been terrific and the competition has been spectacular,” said Team, who has his brother and two sons in the crew. “We’ve been mixing it up with Tres Hombres and finished overlapped with them in the first two races today. Rush is also tough so I think it will be a dogfight the whole way.” Rush, a J/109 skippered by Bill Sweetser of Annapolis, was named Lewmar / Navtec Boat of the Day after posting a superb score line of 3-2-1. Tom Babel is calling tactics while Quantum pro Tad Hutchins is calling tactics on Rush, which is currently third in PHRF 1 and second in the J/Boats Subclass. “The conditions were very good for us today. When the wind is 14 knots or less we can fly our big jib, which is kind of like our secret weapon,” Sweetser said. “We pay for that jib in our rating so it’s good whenever we can use it.” It’s been close but no cigar for Rush at Key West as Sweetser’s boat has finished first or second in class several times, but never come away as overall winner at week’s end. “One of these years we’re going to finally break through and it’s going to be wonderful,” he said. Regatta dates are January 15 – 20, 2012.
For more Key West Race Week photos by Tim Wilkes check out Tim Wilkes Photography
The RC 44 Austria Cup May 10th – 15th will be a special occasion for Team Aqua as they race in their new boat for the first time.
Chris Bake’s Team Aqua has been a leading force on the RC44 circuit since its launch in 2007. The team won the RC 44 Championship Tour in 2007, and finished first in the match race ranking in 2010 with pro sailor Cameron Appleton at the helm. Team Aqua was however sailing on the oldest boat in the fleet up until now, and decided that to maintain the momentum a new boat would be invested in for the 2011 season.
“The RC 44 boat and concept are a winner, says Bake. “Dynamic one design boat, ease of transport, varied locations, competitive, huge support from the class and ultimately fun. I absolutely love it and I am determined to carrying on competing at the highest level. The fact of acquiring a new boat is a testimony to the quality of this Class. We hope many other teams will join in in the near future.
Boat captain Nigel King has been working closely with RC 44 boat builders Pauger to make sure that the new boat is ready and raring to go by the time racing commences at the RC 44 Austria Cup on Lake Traunsee. He explained: “Chris Bake is a massive supporter of the class and committed for the long-term so the team felt it was the right time to invest in a new boat to see Aqua through the next few years.
“Nigel King, Karl Funk and Chris Noble have done a great job at preparing the boat, said Cameron Appleton, the team’s project manager, match race helmsman and fleet race tactician. “Thanks to their hard work we will have a race-ready boat for the next race on Lake Traunsee. We are all looking forward to this; those are exciting times for our team.
Besides being one of the principal contenders of the Tour, Team Aqua uses its boat as a platform to promote an eco-friendly message. The team supports the World Land Trust and “2041, an organisation founded by polar explorer, environmental leader and public speaker Robert Swan, OBE, the first person in history to walk to both the North and South poles, and dedicated to the protection of the poles. Team Aqua offsets its carbon footprint and promotes sustainable development.
Team Aqua is an international sailing team owned by Dubai based businessman Chris Bake. Kiwi sailor Cameron Appleton is the team’s pro skipper; crewmembers are Matt Cassidy, Andrew Estcourt, Ben Graham, Chris Noble, Nigel King, Christian Kamp, Jimmy Maloney and Karl Funk. Chris is a passionate sailor who grew up in Spain, sailed through school in England and University in America. “Aqua, the Spanish word for water, is a reference to his kids’ names. The team’s objective is to be competitive, to always look for solutions to enhance its performance and to ensure that it functions as a team.
After wishing for more boatspeed following the match racing portion of the RC 44 Valencia Cup, Anders Myralf of Denmark guided James Spithill and the 17 crew to three first place finishes today to wrest control of the fleet racing portion of the regatta.
The 17 crew won the first, third and fourth races, and placed fourth in Race 2. Their low score, however, is 8 points due to a 1 point penalty imposed by the International Jury.
Second place is held by Chris Bake and Team Aqua, winners of the match racing portion of the week-long event, with 14 points on finishes of 2-3-5-4.
Third place is held by Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis at 20 points (5-7-2-6).
“It’s incredible to come down here from Copenhagen and jump into a boat that is so organized and well sailed,? said Myralf, an amateur sailor who races aboard the Farr 40 Nanooq with the Prince of Denmark. “I’ve never seen such a good crew. I’ve got the easiest job on the boat.?
The southeasterly sea breeze that marked the match racing didn’t materialize today until the fourth race, but it lacked its typical punch. Instead, the fleet sailed in mostly an easterly wind between 8 and 10 knots. Only in Race 4 did it shift to the southeast and increase to 12 knots.
The new conditions made consistency hard to achieve. Instead of trusting the right side of the racecourse, some found the left side of the course favorable. Aside from the top two, the rest of the fleet had at least one, if not two finishes out of the top five.
“We were able to stay in the top five, and in this fleet that’s saying something,? said Bake of Team Aqua. “The field was fairly mixed up.?
Another marked difference from the match racing portion are the amateur helmsmen, as required by class rules. In most cases that is the owner driving the light-displacement yacht.
Completing the top five are a pair of Russians: Guennadi Timtchenko and Katusha, placed fourth with 20 points on finishes of 9-1-8-3, followed by Maxim Logutenko aboard BMW ORACLE Racing with Russell Coutts at 22 points (finishes of 10-6-4-2).
For Timtchenko, this is just his third regatta. Ever. He’d never raced before joining the RC 44 Class, but got into it due to Tornqvist, a friend and business associate.
“I raced with Torbjorn aboard one of his boats,? said the 57-year-old Timtchenko. “The RC 44 is the right class for me. It’s an interesting boat, fast and maneuverable. I make a lot of mistakes, but my crew gets me out of trouble.?
Marring an otherwise great day, 17 was penalized 1 point by the jury after a protest from Islas Canarias Puerto Calero and owner Daniel Calero.
At the start of Race 4, Puerto Calero was the windward yacht with 17 overlapped to leeward. Puerto Calero alleged that Spithill, the professional helmsman, took the helm. Class rules state that the professional may take the helm only on safety grounds.
Puerto Calero maintains that Spithill took the helm to help push them over the line early. Puerto Calero was on the course side at the start.
According to International Jury chairman Bill Edgerton, Spithill said in the protest hearing that he had a hand on the wheel, but only to help turn the yacht down to avoid potentially hitting Puerto Calero.
“We didn’t want to have them disqualified, but we wanted to raise the issue that it is against the rules,? said Daniel Calero.
RC 44 VALENCIA CUP
(Fleet racing provisional results)
1. 17 / Anders Myralf (USA) 1-4-1-1, 8 points*
2. Team Aqua / Chris Bake (UAE) 2-3-5-4, 14 points
3. Artemis / Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) 5-7-2-6, 20 points
4. Katusha / Guennadi Timtchenko (RUS) 9-1-8-3, 21 points
5. BMW ORACLE Racing / Maxim Logutenko (USA) 10-6-4-2, 22 points
6. No Way Back / Pieter Heerema (NED) 8-2-7-5, 22 points
7. Ceeref / Igor Lah (SLO) 6-11-3-7, 27 points
8. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero / Daniel Calero (ESP) 3-9-9-10, 31 points
9. AEZ RC44 Sailing Team / Rene Mangold (AUT) 4-10-10-8, 32 points
10. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team / Vincenzo Onorato (ITA) 11-5-6-11, 33 points
11. Team Sea Dubai / Harm Mueller-Speer (UAE) 7-8-11-9, 35 points
(* includes 1 point penalty by International Jury)
Small jibs and loose boom vangs were the order of the day as the RC 44 Valencia Cup got underway here in a pumping sea breeze that topped out at 20 knots.
Despite the strong wind off Malvarrosa Beach, the professional crews threw the light-displacement boats around with seeming ease.
In a day that saw seven flights and 28 match races completed, three crews made it through the first five flights undefeated. But only Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis escaped unscathed.
“We started well enough today and the boat was going well through the water,? said Artemis skipper Terry Hutchinson, who finished the day at 6-0. “We had our best day boathandling, and we needed it today.?
Three other teams finished the day with 4-1 records including Russell Coutts and the BMW ORACLE Racing team, Cameron Appleton’s Team Aqua and James Spithill’s 17. Rounding out the top five is Igor Lah’s Ceeref at 3-1 with Rod Davis as skipper.
“We had a good day considering we weren’t able to practice yesterday,? said Davis, who suffered a slight injury when the mainsheet grazed his head. “We went in loose and are quite happy. The boys have been on the boat a long time and that was helpful today.?
The day started mild with an east/southeasterly wind around 12 knots. But with the temperature inland topping out at 90 degrees, it quickly turned wild when the wind shifted to the southeast and built to 16 to 18 knots, with gusts up to 20 knots.
The race committee ordered the small jibs for the fourth flight of races, and VIP spectators were no longer allowed aboard to avoid the risk of injury during transfer from chase boat to race boat.
Corresponding with the increase in wind strength was an increase of incidents. Upwards of eight penalties were issued, three spinnakers ripped, one jib battered and one steering system damaged.
A couple of crews were forced to retire from races due to the damage, but for those who finished you would think the day was a walk in the park.
“This was one of the windiest days we’ve had match racing, but they’re spectacular boats. They come alive downwind,? Hutchinson said.
“My guys did a great job getting me out of trouble today,? said Appleton. “I was the one causing the trouble.?
The match racing portion of the RC 44 Valencia Cup continues tomorrow with another seven flights planned. Thursday is a scheduled practice day for the fleet racing portion of the regatta, which runs Friday through Sunday.
RC 44 VALENCIA CUP
(Match racing, after seven of 14 flights)
1. Artemis / Terry Hutchinson (SWE) 6-0
2. BMW ORACLE Racing / Russell Coutts (USA) 4-1
2. Team Aqua / Cameron Appleton (UAE) 4-1
2. 17 / James Spithill (USA) 4-1
5. Ceeref / Rod Davis (SLO) 3-1
6. No Way Back / Pieter Heerema and Ray Davies (NED) 3-3
7. Team Sea Dubai / Markus Weiser (UAE) 2-4
8. Katusha / Paul Cayard (RUS) 1-3
9. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team / Tommaso Chieffi (ITA) 1-4
10. AEZ RC44 Sailing Team / Christian Binder (AUT) 0-5
10. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero / José Maria Ponce (ESP) 0-5
The second regatta of the RC 44 Championship Tour 2010 will begin on Thursday, April 29, on Lake Traunsee, in Austria. James Spithill, Russell Coutts and Larry Ellison make their come back on the circuit; they will sail against Ray Davies, Paul Cayard, Rod Davis, Markus Wieser, Terry Hutchinson, Cameron Appleton, Christian Binder and many more of the world’s best sailors… Tough job for the bookmakers!
Recent winner of the America’s Cup at the helm of BMW ORACLE Racing, James « Jimmy » Spithill is the skipper of a new team called RC 44 Challenge. His crew is made up of a combination of America’s Cup sailors – such as John Kostecki – and genuine amateurs, as required by the Class rules. RC 44 Challenge will with no doubt immediately become one of the favourites of the event. “I am really looking forward to returning to the RC 44 Class”, says Spithill. “It attracts the world’s best sailors from both match racing and fleet racing, plus the boats are incredibly rewarding to sail and certainly one of the reasons I’m back. We have a fantastic team. John Kostecki will be tactician and Joey Newton trimming, both who raced on the BOR 90 trimaran.”
Other new faces involved in the RC 44 Austria Cup include Harm Müller Spreer, who will be Team Sea Dubai’s fleet race helmsman. Owner of the well known TP 52 Platoon, Harm Müller Spreer is a successful Dragon sailor; he became European champion in 2004, finished second at the 2005 worlds and is a triple Gold Cup winner.
Russell Coutts is also back on the circuit for the first time since last year’s Portoroz Cup. Larry Ellison will steer BMW ORACLE Racing during the fleet races whilst Coutts will be at the helm on Thursday and Friday for the match race.
Finally, Team Austria, the local team headed by René Mangold, will be keen to perform in front of its public. The Austrians managed to win two fleet races in Dubai earlier in the season. “We have improved a lot but we need more continuity”, comments Christian Binder, the team’s match race helmsman and tactician.
The teams involved in the RC 44 Austria Cup (fleet race / match race helmsman):
Team No Way Back (Pieter Heerema / Ray Davies)
Artemis (Torbjorn Tornqvist / Terry Hutchinson)
CEEREF (Igor Lah / Rod Davis)
BMW ORACLE Racing (Larry Ellison / Russell Coutts)
Team Aqua (Chris Bake / Cameron Appleton)
Team Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (Daniel Calero / José Maria Ponce)
Katusha (Paul Cayard)
Team Sea Dubai (Harm Muller Spreer / Markus Wieser)
Team Austria (René Mangold / Christian Binder)
RC 44 Challenge (Ian Vickers / James Spithill)