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)