Coutts nailed

Croatian dominate in the RC 44's match racing at the Portorox Cup

Sunday October 29th 2006, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: Mediterranean
The professional sailors involved in the RC 44 class were back at the helm today for the match racing event, and they provided a show that illustrates the great progress made by the five strong fleet. The wind was once again light and the sea flat, but there was enough breeze to conclude a complete round robin and establish some results.

The winner of the day was the Croatian team Cro-A-Sail, skippered by Tomislav Basic, which won all its matches. Tomislav Basic, helmsman, team Cro-A-Sail commented: “This was a great day. We took good starts and managed to control most of the races. When the wind is as light as today, it is important to start with a good speed, and to maintain this speed all through the race. Most matches were really close, but the best one for us was definitely the one against Team Omega. It is always good to beat Russell Coutts.”

But the real surprise came from Mascalzone Latino, which has made huge progress since the Alfa Spider Cup in Trieste, winning three out of four matches. Matteo Savelli, helmsman, Mascalzone Latino: “We are very happy with our result, even though we could probably have won our match against Cro-A-Sail if I hadn’t done a mistake during the pre-start. We have changed 50% of our crew since Trieste, and we have improved a lot. Some of the new guys come from the Farr 40 crew; they have all done a great job.

The Japanese sailors on board Team Beecom, with Morten Henriksen at the helm, also put in a strong performance, beating Russell Coutts’ Team Omega and Magia to take the third place. As Henriksen said: “The racing was quite difficult, with light and irregular winds, but we did OK and we are improving a lot. We organise morning briefings every day, and we try to systematically develop our areas of weaknesses. Our comprehension of the boat is getting better day after day. I am very impressed by Cro-A-Sail’s performance. They really sailed well, and they have set a new benchmark for all of us."

Another surprise was the bad performance of Team Omega, which finished last in the event after loosing four consecutive matches. “It was really hard”, commented the RC 44 co-designer and crewmember Andrej Justin. “We missed all our starts, and did really poor manoeuvres. The level has increased so much that we can not afford to sail like this.” Back at the pontoon, a very long de-briefing illustrated the team’s desire to identify the day’s mistakes, and to make progress in the future.

The regatta was superbly organised and conducted by the Yachting Club Portoroz. The matches followed each other with just five minutes break to recuperate. The public and media appreciated the show. As for the RC 44, they proved once gain to be absolutely beautiful and challenging for the crews. The Italians on board Mascalzone Latino could also appreciate one of its more discreet features after hitting a chase boat: the crash box played its role and protected the rest of the hull without compromising the safety or performance of the injured yacht.

The event continues tomorrow with a fleet race.

Portoroz Cup match-race, final results:

1) Cro-A-Sail (Tomislav Basic), 4 points
2) Mascalzone Latino (Matteo Savelli), 3 points
3) Team Beecom (Morten Henriksen), 2 points
4) Magia (Lorenzo Bodini), 1 point
5) Team Omega (Russell Coutts), 0 point

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